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Cutting down on kids screen time this summer following the pandemic

Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 8:13 AM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - In-person activities were limited the last year due to the pandemic, which left more children in front of a phone, computer, tv, or tablet screen than ever before. Now that all kids across North Central Florida are officially out of school for the summer, experts like Pediatrician Lindsay Thompson, stress the importance of reducing screen time.

“Kids need to get outdoors, they need to eat healthy foods,” said Thompson. “I’ve also seen some kids develop anxiety about social situations so a slow introduction back to face-to-face gatherings will be really important.”

Studies have found that adolescents who spend more time’ doing extracurricular activities and less time in front of screens have better mental health. Dr. Thompson said she’s concerned about the damaging effects of too much screen time from social and mental health effects to physical effects like weight gain or loss.

“Adults need to model that behavior,” Thompson said. “They need to not be on their phones when they’re talking to their kids, I have teenagers and they’d probably accuse me of the same so you have to be very aware and put your phone down and say ‘everybody phones down were gonna sit and have dinner’ or a good old fashioned board game.”

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Dr. Thompson stressed the importance of engaging kids and teens in more physical and social activities this summer to make up for any setbacks that could have occurred over the last year.

“Especially younger children, they need word density,” said Thompson. “Young children really need to be able to hear the spoken word in front of them in real-time to learn vocabulary and understand the nuances of social interaction and to grow in their thinking.”

She said the best way to continue changing this trajectory is through vaccinating children and those around them.

RELATED STORY: UF Health pediatrician addresses concerns with vaccinating kids against COVID-19

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