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Your Healthy Family: Will TikTok's screen time limit help kids' mental health?

Posted at 8:26 AM, Mar 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-16 08:26:44-04

As President Joe Biden talks about banning TikTok, the app has updated its safety guidelines to limit screen time for kids. But doctors said only time will tell if this will help children's mental health.

Stephanie Miller said she's watchful when it comes to her kids' screen time.

“Who doesn’t let them be on technology, you know. They can enjoy things, but it’s definitely minimally because I like to keep their minds going in a more educated way, like imaginary play,” she said.

“I get to play games on it and I like taking videos," her 7-year-old daughter Malia said.

Dr. Michael Manos with the Cleveland Clinic said too much screen time early on can be linked to mental health problems.

“Can even show a withdrawal effect that when you withdraw a very reinforcing event or circumstance, a person experiences a sense of anxiety or fearfulness, or of aloneness that is sometimes intolerable," he said.

TikTok is the most recent app to update its safety guidelines. Users under 18 are now granted an hour of screen time a day. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends less than two hours a day for children age 2 and older.

“I feel sorry for the parents who have to put up with their teenagers who are going to have only an hour of TikTok a day, primarily because TikTok itself is designed to keep a person engaged,” Dr. Manos siad.

Doctors said it'll take time to see if the changes make any impact on a child's mental health. In the meantime, they tell parents to continue setting boundaries or use screen time as an opportunity to watch and play along together.

“I have patients with anxiety of a depressed mood who love the music or to watch funny people on TikTok, so I don’t want it to be just considered this bad thing because it can be very powerful and positive to a lot of children," Carolyn Landis, a Psychologist, said.

Doctors say too much screen time can also impact a child’s sleep, so making sure they’re not in front of screens two hours before bed is key.