Are Kids Spending Too Much Time Online?

At an average of over seven hours per day, some parents are concerned that their children are spending too much time online. Studies say that too much screen time can lead to sleep interruption, obesity and behavioral problems.

And there is a growing debate about whether smartphones should be allowed in school. Children are getting distracted from the devices instead of focusing on classwork.

“Kids don’t learn to process the day” when they are distracted by the web, warned Dr. Michael Rich, from Boston Children’s Hospital. “No screens any closer to bedtime than an hour,” he advised.

In a video with, Randi Zuckerberg, author of Dot Complicated and CEO of Zuckerberg Media, said “technology is rewiring children’s brains in ways that we’re just going to start to learn about.”

Zuckerberg, who worked alongside her brother Mark, as the director of marketing at Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), gained insight into Internet usage. The social media service has a minimum age requirement of 13, based on the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

“A lot of sites are starting to think about creating these safer environments for children,”  said Zuckerberg.  Brands like Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOGL) YouTube,  Twitter's (NYSE:TWTR)Vine and Snapchat have all released kids versions of their product, to help facilitate safer searching.

The Internet can also be a powerful educational tool for children, with countless apps and programs aimed at aiding learning and development. The right content “puts them ahead of their peers, gives them the skills that they are really going to need to be successful,” said Zuckerberg.

It is important that parents are not “dismissive of technology but recognizing that there are ways that it can fit into a child’s life that can be very positive,” added Kyle Snow, senior scholar at the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Zuckerberg recommended engineering toys GoldieBlox and robots Dash and Dot as positive technology programs for children.

But while there are plenty of helpful learning tools, “a device is not a babysitter,” quipped Zuckerberg. “It does not replace a human.”