Grandparents spoil their grandkids. It’s a time-honored tradition.
It’s not always a beneficial one, however. A meta-analysis of studies tracking how grandparents affect their young charges, published two years ago by PLOS One, a journal of peer-reviewed science, revealed that overindulgent grandparents often had negative effects on the diet, exercise habits, and weight gain of their grandkids.
This is certainly true in the United States, since a huge study shows American kids don’t get enough exercise. A new study, which just appeared in The Journal of Children and Media, seems to confirm that Grandma and Grandpa are helping to turn youngsters into pint-size couch potatoes. The study was conducted in Israel, a country where the population has grown by 87% between 1990 and 2017 — and these are the most crowded countries in the world.
According to a survey of some 356 grandparents of children aged 2 to 7, conducted online, during each four-hour visit, the kids spent an average of two hours either playing video games or watching videos on their computers, phones, or tablets. Grandfathers were more indulgent that grandmothers, permitting longer periods of screen time.
“Use time increased with age and was higher among boys compared with girls,” the study reported. “These findings raise concerns regarding young children’s media use under their grandparents’ watch….”
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time at all, except video-chatting with other people, for babies under 18 months and one hour a day at most of high-quality programs for kids between 2 and 5. Too much time spent in front of the TV of other video screen can result in low quality of sleep and affect some social behaviors such as interacting with other people, according to AAP.
Screen time may also replace time for play and physical activity, which is crucial for overall health. Childhood obesity is already an epidemic in the United States. The rates are much higher in some parts of the country — these are the states where children are struggling with obesity.