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How social media videos can impact a child's attention span

“The impact of screens is certainly profound because what happens with screens is attention is taken away from face-to-face interactions."

CLEVELAND — Many kids these days spend hours on social media platforms aimlessly scrolling through video after video, but some reports suggest that it could be actually harming their attention span.

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“The impact of screens is certainly profound because what happens with screens is attention is taken away from face-to-face interactions and it’s given over to a device,” said Michael Manos, MD, pediatric psychologist for Cleveland Clinic Children’s.

Dr. Manos said there is currently no concrete evidence indicating that regularly scrolling through videos on social media can impact a child’s attention span long-term.

However, in the short-term, it could make it harder for them to concentrate in class or complete an assignment, which they think is boring.

Dr. Manos said the best way for parents to help prevent that is to limit screen time. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, kids under four should have no more than one hour of screen time a day, while older kids should have no more than two. And, if they are going to engage with screens, parents should do it with them.

“Limiting access is certainly the only way that I know of,” said Dr. Manos. “All the conversations and lecturing of a child is not going to do a thing because the captivation of screens is far more powerful than anything a parent is going to say.” Dr. Manos said if your child is throwing tantrums when you take away their phones or tablets, it’s worth consulting with a professional.

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