Why children should reduce screen time ahead of the school year

Posted at 7:10 AM, Sep 03, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-03 07:13:13-04

RICHMOND, Va -- As parents prepare their children for the upcoming school year, sleep routines are not the only habit doctors say children should adjust. Screen time should also be scaled back gradually.

During the summer, children and teens often spend more time watching TV, or playing on computers, tablets, or smartphones. The glow of the screens, though, has been shown to negatively impact a person's ability to fall asleep. The light can hinder the secretion of melatonin, a hormone made in the brain to help the body fall asleep.

As children adjust their sleep routines to match their school-year habits, pediatricians say it's good to turn off devices earlier.

"You want to limit that to 30 minutes to an hour a day, slowly get your kids off those electronics, especially before bedtime," said Dr. Tracey Deal, a pediatrician with Pediatric Associates. "Younger kids, an hour before bed, electronics should be out of the room, powered down. Older kids, 30 minutes."

Doctors also suggest gradually shifting a child's bedtime 15 minutes earlier each day until the school year starts. Parents may also do the same thing when the children wake up in the morning to get them adjusted.

Tune in to CBS 6 This Morning this week for healthy habits during the back-to school season.