Practically since the first televisions were invented, there has been some concern about the effects that exposure to screens could have on children and their development. In many cases, however, the information about it has been of questionable scientific validity and has been tinged with fear and sensationalism.

Content and behavior problems

In this sense, perhaps the main concern in this regard is that the content that children consume in audiovisual media may cause behavioral problems in children. Research in this regard, however, is inconclusive.

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A review of the literature on the subject published in 2017 in the academic environment Developmental Review, for example, it concludes that the evidence indicates that the effects of television exposure on behavior depend largely on factors such as individual characteristics of the childyour family or your social context.

Thus, while some works have observed Negative effects such as hyperactive behaviors or a decrease in executive functions, others have found that, on the contrary, viewing quality educational content improves the school performance of many children.

Eye problems and sedentary lifestyle

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On the contrary, the most evident negative impacts reside rather in the way in which children consume television. Of course, children who spend a lot of time in front of screens do not dedicate that time to more active forms of leisure, so it is often associated with sedentary behavior.

Likewise, screens are a major cause of Eye fatigue (asthenopia) in both adults and children. Therefore, excessive screen time can increase symptoms such as eye pain, headaches, dry eyes; Likewise, spending too much time indoors early in life (after all, the most common use of screens is indoors) is associated with a higher likelihood of nearsightedness.

Some basic recommendations

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In view of all this, some basic recommendations can be established to guarantee that the use of screens by the smallest is the safest and healthiest possible.

First of all, it is advisable to establish a time limitation, in order to prevent the use of audiovisual media from replacing other more physically active or more creative hobbies. Specifically, parents should avoid using the television so they do not have to pay attention to the child.

Second, ensuring that children watch screens from a reasonable distance can help minimize the risk of problems. ocular and visual (although in this sense the main factor is, without a doubt, the exposure time).

And, thirdly, there is that of exercising some control over content viewing. The ideal is to make sure that it is material appropriate to their age, if possible educational; and, as they get older, help them contextualize elements like violence within fiction.


Katarzyna Kostyrka-Allchorne, Nicholas R. Cooper, Andrew Simpson,

The relationship between television exposure and children’s cognition and behaviour: A systematic review. Developmental Review, Volume 44 (2017).

19-58, ISSN 0273-2297 DOI: