It is not an unusual sight to catch an on-the-go mom with a toddler who is holding a gadget (usually cellphone) in his/her tiny hands while mom is busy running a routine errand. It is noticed that an increasing number of caregivers are currently choosing a cellphone or a tablet as a tool to keep children from running around and playing. While many claim that children derive several benefits from this, experts and research emphasize the fact that more harm is done than good by handing a child a gadget.
In this article, let’s see the effect of screen time on children and look for better alternatives that can take its place.
Screen time and children
There do exist benefits that entail the use of gadgets for the purpose of entertainment and education among children. However, it is worth gauging the benefits against the harms that screen time provides to arrive at the right conclusion.
Benefits of screen time in children:
- It’s educational: One cannot deny that children learn fast by using apps and watching videos. Knowing the magnitude of this benefit, schools these days are giving assignments to students that require them to search the world wide web for information. This also leads to the development of research skills during their growing years.
- It can be used as a reinforcer or an incentive: Parents are resorting to using the ‘reinforcement method’ to get their children to do their chores or study. The children are required to complete the tasks allotted to them and upon completion, they will be entitled to receive screen time.
- It helps in developing sensory skills: Video games are very popular not only among children but also among adults. Video games are known to help children improve their fine motor skills in addition to improving coordination skills.
- Encourages reading habit: Apps like iBooks and kindle on a mobile device are inculcating the habit of reading in children. Features like highlighting and wordwise among others, help children improve their vocabulary and writing skills as well.
Disadvantages of screen time in children:
- It is addictive: Too much screen time is seen to develop to become an innocent addiction with time. As there are no immediate and visible dangers to screen time, parents end up allowing their children prolonged screen viewing on digital gadgets. Like all addictions, screen time also gives the individual experience of a high along with a difficulty to stop or detach from viewing the device. This not only causes behavioral issues in children but also affects their normal functioning adversely.
- Causes obesity: Children who enjoy an excessive period of screen time are often found either sitting or lying back for that duration of time. Also, watching videos and playing games is enjoying most with a snack in hand and a drink on the side. This accumulation of calories in the absence of required physical activities will result in making the child obese. Childhood obesity is one of the lingering problems that are leading diabetes and heart issues in children.
- Causes difficulty in sleeping: Research has proved that screen viewing before going to bed can adversely affect the sleep pattern and result in insomnia.
- Difficulty in work and play: Once the children get a hold of a game or show that interest in them, they end up enjoying the said activities and continue to watch and play digital screens by clicking on recommendations that the internet/app suggests. This can interfere with studies and also play that includes human interaction.
- Exhibits behavioral issues: It has been noticed that children exposed to excessive screen time exhibit behavioral issues that include emotional, social, and concentration-related problems.
- Hinders social relationships: Children who have excessive screen time consumption prefer to stay in a place and watch their programs instead of having a genuine conversation with another person. The absence of time spent building relationships and having interactions will make a person lonely.
- Affects physical health: Excessive screen time can cause health issues such as headaches and weak eyes. These days, little children are found wearing vision correction glasses that are mainly caused by excessive viewing of digital devices.
- Causes neurological issues: Medical research has proved that excessive screen viewing can result in grey matter atrophy, which affects planning, organizing, executing, and self-control functions in an individual. This will limit the child from realizing his/her full potential. Also, screen addicts are known to suffer from cortical vision processing issues that deprive them of fulfilling their ambitions.
We see that the list and elaboration of the drawbacks of screen time are more in number as well as effect. Thus, it is better for parents to look for alternative ways to keep their children engaged. Some activities that can productively engage a child are:
- Reading: Reading a book to an infant and then a toddler while growing up will inculcate in the child the love for reading. As the children grow, they will start reading for themselves making it one of the most productive hobbies to pursue.
- Play in the playground: Allowing children to go out and play will help them learn to communicate better. The children will learn to initiate, take turns, and express themselves effectively to others while making friends in the process. Also, engaging children in sensory and free play will help in the child’s development process.
- Develop a skill: Parents can replace screen time with an activity that will enhance your skills such as learn a new language, learn a musical instrument, and the like.
- Pursue a hobby: Parents can also provide all things necessary for a child to pursue his/her hobby/special interest such as painting, skating, singing, and dancing, among others.
After having gone through the pros and cons of screen time among children, let us look at the solution that can curb the increasing screen time – moderation. Anything that is done in moderation is deemed to be good. This applies perfectly to screen time as well. It is considered good to have a no screen time policy for children below the ager of 2 and thereafter children from 3 to 6 years can be permitted to enjoy up to 1 hour of screen time.
Here are a few tips that can help in limiting screen time in children:
- Set up no digital gadget zone in the house, such as dining table and bedroom, to help children invest time in building relationships with people around the table.
- Set alarm clocks to intimate that screen time is over.
- Set up ‘no screen time’ before bed and ensure that the children follow it.
- Lead by example is the best way to teach children to make correct life choices. Follow all the rules that are set so that the child can emulate the parents’ behavior.
Though screen viewing has its share of benefits as well as setbacks, parents and schools must try to leverage the benefits of the said activity to help in children’s growth and development by providing screen time in discreet moderation. If you want to find out more about screen times and casino read other articles at our site.