Grandparents may be fueling excessive device usage among kids, a new study has found. Screen time among youth is a growing public health concern, but reducing the number of time kids spend on gadgets is tricky. According to research from Rutgers University, kids may be getting far too much screen time while in the care of grandparents who want to spoil their grandchildren.
Grandparents are known for spoiling their kids, traditional examples being a lack of bedtime and an excess of sugary snacks. In the modern world, however, spoiling grandchildren increasingly involves allowing them to use their gadgets for longer periods of time than their parents allow. Screen time, in this case, includes watching TV, using a computer, or spending time on a phone or tablet.
The researchers focused on kids ages 2 to 7 who were babysat by their grandparents at least once per week. Over the course of a four-hour visit, the study found that kids spent an average of two hours playing video games or watching videos.
Boys were found to spend slightly more time on these devices than girls, and grandfathers were found to be somewhat more permission of screen time than grandmothers.
Older kids were found to spend more time on gadgets than younger kids, and grandparents were more likely to let kids spend more time using electronic devices if the child’s parents instructed them on the devices ahead of time.
This increased device usage wasn’t always the result of grandparents spoiling their grandchildren, however, with the study finding evidence that a lack of familiarity with these devices may result in some kids being allowed to use them for longer periods of time.
The study’s co-author Dafna Lemish said:
Grandparents play a very significant role in raising their grandchildren. We need to educate them about the impact of media on children’s lives and on proper use that will benefit the wellbeing of their grandchildren.