People always want to make sure they are doing what's best for their children and grandchildren. We are all trying to keep them healthy, happy, and taking advantages of all the things they have access to.
However, sometimes the things we thought were helping us turn out to be a bit more controversial.
We all know that screens have become increasingly prominent in kids' lives. Whether they are watching TV, playing on tablets, or using their parent's cell phones to keep distracted, there are many hours a day spent looking at a screen.
A new study has taken a look at how these screens are affecting children, and unfortunately the results aren't the best news.
Doctors don't want parents to panic, but the World Cancer Research Fund is encouraging families to start limiting their screen usage after discovering that sedentary behavior has raised the risks 12 types of cancer.
This also affects adults, but it's kids who are getting a suggested time limit. Doctors have recommended a limit of two hours per day, as sedentary behavior caused by increased screen time can cause "adverse health outcomes," including a risk of obesity, colon cancer, breast cancer, and endometrial cancer.
The links to cancer seem to be more complex than just using a phone and increasing your risk, instead it's caused by the lack of physical activity and even the number of ads for junk food that a child is faced with when they use these devices. These habits formed as a child continue later on in life, keeping those risk levels elevated.
Not only is there an increased cancer risk, but Dr. Katie Williams, ophthalmology clinical research fellow at King's College, also revealed that the increased screen time has been found to cause nearsightedness.
"Although genetics are thought to play a part, we don't think that they alone can explain why the number of people with myopia is rising so quickly," she said.
But some parents are happy to have the devices, as they can be extremely useful especially for children who have difficulties speaking.
Elizabeth Cambell, mother of two, spoke out about the study and said that her children use devices all the time, but it was actually very important to her son after he was diagnosed with moderate autism spectrum disorder.
"My son has learned to communicate with the help of devices as he uses verbal communication relatively little," Campbell revealed. "They help him self-soothe when he is upset and he puts on videos of favorite nursery rhymes. Playing video games has helped his manual dexterity, hand-eye co-ordination, problem solving skills."
Dr. Erin Walsh reiterates the importance of a time limit. As a pediatric ophthalmologist, she knows that there are risks associated if there is too much screen time.
"These guidelines are not only important to reduce strain, but more importantly to reduce the risk of behavioral disorders," Walsh explains. "Creative, interactive outside play away from digital media remains the most useful recommendation to parents to avoid these complications."