Use of screen time in today’s world includes different kinds of screens like mobile phones, ipads, laptops, television and more. Life without screens is nearly impossible today which is why children are exposed to screens right from their childhood or even their birth! Exposure to screens cannot be completely avoided in such circumstances. But there are ways to manage or limit screen time so that children are benefited from it and not suffer because of it.
Benefits of screen time:
There is some research backed educational content available on different media platforms like youtube, Netflix, TV and so on. These include preschool content that helps children learn language, communication, fine or gross motor skills and more. For example, Miss Rachel is a YouTube channel that is wonderful for preschoolers or toddlers as it is filled with lots of amazing learning content. Children learn to sing, dance, say their first words, sentences and more! It does not have flashy or addictive content that harms the eye sight of little children.
Parents must be vigilant in picking the right educational content for their children as not all educational content is beneficial. There is a definite need for parents to do their research before exposing their children to any kind of screen time. For instance, research shows that certain YouTube or other channels for children seem educational but in fact they are causing harm to your child by making them get addicted to them. Children feel a strong inclination to keep watching screens for long periods of time leading to screen addiction. Parents should always keep an eye on their child’s screen time so as to stop their child from getting too attached or addicted to screen time.
Limiting screen time:
Screen time for little ones must be limited to no more than 1 hour per day. But this does not mean they sit for that one hour at a stretch. The time must be split into shorter durations of 10-15 mins during the day. This will reduce the stress and strain on the little one’s eyes. Often children watch screens for long periods of time where their eyes are exposed to the screen’s blue light and all the bright colorful flashing lights on the screen. Such exposure is very harmful to children as they are also exposed to the device’s radiation.
Limiting screen time will stop children from getting addicted to screen time which is a common sight in children today. Parents must be aware of the awful consequences of screen time on their children and take necessary steps to stop any kind of screen addiction. Allowing screen time does not mean that children can screen time right before their sleep time. They must not be allowed to watch screens at least 1-2 hours before bedtime as it disrupts their sleep at night.
Effects of screen time on a child’s mental health:
Screen time can have significant side effects on a child’s physical and mental health. Watching screens for too long leads to insomnia,violent behavior, obesity in children and mental health issues like anxiety, depression, attention deficit, hyperactivity and more.
Children lose their ability to pay attention to the world around them. They stop learning from the stimuli around them. They find it difficult to make social interactions with people around them. Reading books for example, would help a child to process the pictures, words and emotions that they see and hear, thereby helping them comprehend and understand whatever is being read to them. Children lose the ability to concentrate and focus on their daily activities and always seek entertainment in the form of screen time. They may not perform well in their academics as well.
Children often lose their ability to think creatively and be imaginative if they are constantly exposed to outside entertainment in the form of screen time. In the absence of screen time, children observe the world around them, their surroundings and learn to explore and learn through free play time.
Children learn the most by observing human interactions. Screen time takes this away from them leading to the inability of children to learn and regulate human emotions, feelings and empathy. They lack social skills that are so crucial for their entire lifetime.
In the absence of screen time, a child’s brain develops in the way it is meant to develop and its benefits last a lifetime. A child will not be able to learn how to control their own emotions, read other’s emotions and struggle to make social interactions and play with their peers. The emotional health of the child is affected due to excessive exposure to screens. Research Failure of parents to guide their child by limiting or even eliminating screen time will impact the child’s overall development and health adversely. Relationships between family members are directly affected because of screen addiction. Family rules like no TV in the bedrooms, no screens during meal times, during car travel can help build healthy family relationships.