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Learning Curve: Handling More Screen Time For Kids During Distance Learning

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - Kids are inevitably going to spend more time in front of screens because of distance learning. Some doctors call it a "necessary evil," but say parents should still look for ways to cut back on the time spent with technology.

"I think it's taken over a bit," said Haley Howland, a Sacramento mom. "With everything going on, it's amplified that a lot."

It's why moms like Howland bring her kids out to the park, attempting to find ways to stay active and engage in other activities rather than watch TV or play video games.

"It's important they're not stuck in front of a cell phone or a TV all day," Howland said.

But with distance learning a reality, more screen time is bound to happen. Doctors like Sutter Healths' Michael Chez, M.D., said before COVID-19, younger kids could average anywhere up to six hours a day. Now that number could be even more.

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Though, Dr. Chez said this time it has its benefits.

"Where they're getting education materials, having interactions with other people," he said. "The school programs have to be prioritized and then you adjust off the other screen time."

Many doctors suggest finding other ways to entertain kids who spent the day online for school. UC Davis Health's Dr. Breanna Winder-Patel said there can be easy ways to do it.

"We could pick taking a walk together in the neighborhood or a dance party in the living room," Dr. Winder-Patel said. "We're going to do that before we get some of that entertainment screen time."

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Which is exactly what moms like Howland are working to do, as she tries to keep her kids safely in touch with the world.

Dr. Winder-Patel said it may be a while until we know of any lasting impacts from the amount of time spent with screen time due to distance learning. Though she said more screen time can lead to other health issues like behavioral problems or obesity.

For families looking to cut back, but not sure where to start, Dr. Winder-Patel recommends taking an online assessment at

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