By Team

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Parents often struggle to put limits on how much time their children spend on screens. A new study shows why that battle could make a difference that lasts a lifetime.

Rachel Wall and her family live in London, where the kids enjoy lots of time outdoors. But they also enjoy their screen time.

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“Some mornings it’s, ‘I want a show right now.’ And I’ve learned as a parent, if I give in, it becomes a daily request,” Wall said.

Instead, she tries to encourage more reading.

“Reading is actually quite foundational and predictive of a lot of outcomes for children,” said clinical psychologist Brae Anne McArthur.

Her research identified a vicious cycle between screen time and reading.

“What we found was that children who were using higher levels of screen time at age two were having lower levels of reading at age three, which then predicted higher levels of screen use at age five.”

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Screen time in this study included a range of activities, including TV, computers and video games.

During the pandemic, it was harder than ever to limit screen time, especially with many schools switching to remote learning. Now, families are struggling to get back on schedule. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends for children ages two to five limiting screen use to one hour per day. For children under 18 months, no screen time at all, except video chatting.

One way to encourage more reading is for parents to lead by example.

McArthur said, “These early reading skills are quite predictive of how children will do later in school, whether they’ll graduate from high school, whether they’ll be successful in different aspects of adult life.”

Wall said knowing that inspires her to try harder.

“We’ve already been rotating through different books. And you can see they still love it,” she said.

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And the benefits could last a lifetime. Team