The Unintended Consequences of Screen Time for Young Children
Screen time has become the enemy of parents and educators alike. We’ve heard countless experts tell us that too much screen time is bad for children. It makes them less smart, less creative—the list goes on and on. The use of screen time can also a lot of physical, developmental and safety risks. In this piece, we will discuss these unintended consequences.
Causes digital addiction. Recent research has shown that smartphones, iPads, video games and other electronic devices can have a similar effect as a drug. Those same research studies show that these devices affect the frontal cortex, the part of the brain that controls execution and impulses, in exactly the same way as cocaine does. Furthermore, staring at screens increases dopamine levels, which is why children become suddenly happy when handed an electronic device and then immediately upset when the device is taken away.
Physical concerns. Viewing a screen intensely and for extended periods of time can cause eye irritations, fatigue, and headaches. Looking down while viewing a screen can cause neck and spine issues. Being sedentary for extended periods of times can lead to childhood obesity. You can mitigate these problems by encouraging your child to look away from the screen periodically, keeping their neck upright, taking regular breaks to move about, and engaging in physical activities.
Development concerns. Screen time can have an impact on your children’s social skill and language development. Children need interaction with peers and adults to develop these core competencies. In older children, it can affect their ability to carry on a casual or intelligent conversation, maintain focus, or read other people’s body language. You can mitigate these issues by balancing their screen time with other activities.
Safety concerns. You child is sure to encounter inappropriate content and people on the internet. You can mitigate this risk by setting taking proper precautions. You can set the privacy settings on devices that your child has access to. Also, teach your child to use the internet responsibly. Remind them that if they do not, they could use the privilege.
Media messages. Screen- based media can influence your child’s thoughts, ideas, and behavior. For instance, by watching screen-based media, your child can be affected by the bad behavior of their favorite cartoon character, form stereotypes of various groups, or internalize violent images that they see on their screens. You can mitigate this risk by assisting your child in developing digital media literacy so they can understand your dangers and concerns.
Lots of screen time could cause diabetes. Children who are permitted to have over three hours of screen time a day are in more danger of developing diabetes, new research suggests. The study found that kids who were glued to their screens for at least three hours a day scored higher on measures of muscle to fat ratio ratios and had high amounts of resistance to insulin than their classmates who spent an hour or less staring at screen media. In any case, the researchers forewarned that the study does not demonstrate that increased screen time itself brings about an increased risk of developing diabetes.
Screens can keep kids up at night. Exposure to LED-illuminated devices at night suppresses melatonin and makes it more difficult for you to got to sleep at night. Basically, it disrupts your circadian rhythm. A Scientific American article found that subjects who spent their evenings reading for an extended period of time on an e-reader, needed more time to fall asleep. In effect, they experienced less REM sleep and felt tired for hours after they woke up in the morning, even if they received the same amount of sleep as the control group. Pediatricians see problems like this with their patients all the time. When they ask what type of screen media they have been consuming, patients usually report that they have viewed or playing social media, video games or TV within hours of going to bed. Disruptions to the circadian rhythm is also a major contributor to ADHD and other behavioral and mood disorders. However, there is some good news, you can prevent this from happening by reducing your child’s screen media consumption.
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