A Digital Epidemic: The Harmful Effects of Excessive Screen Time on Children

It’s crazy what “technology” has come to. All the previous tech that scared parents decades ago is literally nothing compared to the “screen.”

screen time and children technology - A Digital Epidemic: The Harmful Effects of Excessive Screen Time on Children

A Digital Epidemic: The Harmful Effects of Excessive Screen Time on Children

An entire generation of children is growing up with cell phones, tablets, and other electronic gadgets. This has become a global issue and has naturally made many parents worried. But at the same time, it’s allowing researchers to address the following question: What impact does screen time have on children’s minds?

What We Know So Far:

Recently, researchers from the National Institutes of Health tried to answer this question based on preliminary data from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study.

This study is spread across the United States in 21 locations. The focus group includes 11,000 children – from 9 to 10 years old. The study’s director, Gaya Dowling, Ph.D., presented the results on CBS’ “60 Minutes”.

The initial data discovered the following:

  • Children who spent more than 7 hours a day using smartphones, tablets, and video games had significant differences in their brains – based on MRI scans.
  • Children who spent over two hours a day of screen time got lower scores on thinking and language tests.

What Exactly Is Screen Time?

“Screen time” indicates the amount of time that an individual spends gazing at the computerized showcases of PCs, tablets (iPads, for instance), and cell phones.

According to The Vision Council, 72% of American parents report that their kids routinely participate in over two hours of screen time every day.

Furthermore, it’s likely that most children invest essentially more energy staring at screens than their folks might suspect they do.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, this does not apply to children who are not getting too much screen time. Numerous parents battle to force solid limits on themselves as well. The normal grown-up goes through more than 11 hours a day in front of a screen.

What we understand from this is this behavior impacts the whole family in a negative way.

The Negative Effects of Too Much Screen Time

The negative effects of too much screen time can be both immediate and long-term.

Immediate Effects:

  • Headaches: Bursts of headaches and neck pains are a very common side effect.
  • Hazardous Sleep Schedule: A significant number of these dangers are related with circadian rhythm disruption, which is brought about by gazing at advanced screens well into the night, which can make it a lot harder to fall asleep at a typical time.
  • Drowsiness: Sleep disturbance can be particularly hazardous for youngsters, prompting daytime drowsiness and poor performance at school as a result.
  • Obesity: Disturbance of the rest/wake cycle can additionally lead to weight gain and heftiness related medical issues in the long run.
  • Tantrums: Research has demonstrated that individuals who experience disturbed 24-hour cycles of rest and movement are bound to have a temperament issue, lower dimensions of satisfaction, and more prominent sentiments of dejection.
  • ADHD: There is also a strong link between ADHD and screen time.
  • Myopia: The increased use of electronic devices has been linked to myopia or nearsightedness.
  • Violence: Elementary school-age youngsters who sit in front of the TV or utilize a PC over two hours a day watching violence are prone to becoming bullies.
  • Brutality: Exposure to fierce motion pictures, music, and computer games can make children become desensitized to it. In the long run, they may mirror what they see on TV.

Long-term Effects:

The truth is that the long-term dangers of steady blue light exposure from digital devices aren’t yet known. It’s because our previous generations did not have this problem.

It will presumably take a very long time before the long haul impacts of broad screen time for children are better comprehended. Be that as it may, there is as of now some related research which proposes that it might be wise to restrain blue light introduction from an early age.

An experiment done by Japanese and Swiss scientists proposed that the retinas of maturing eyes are progressively powerless to oxidative harm brought about by blue light exposure.

The best case scenario is when these defensive measures are taken amid youth.

Digital Devices Harm Your Relationship with Your Child

Even if you are not currently facing any problem with the way that your relationship is with your children, you might in the future.

In a 2015 study by AVG Technologies, 33% of kids felt neglected when their folks were on their cell phones amid dinners or even while playing together. So, are you not sending a message to your young one that she/he is replaceable with a phone?

Children can read very well into intrusive consideration. When you take a peek at your phone every 2 minutes, it can have a psychological impact on your child.  

So, What Can Parents Do?

For starters, they should remember that children love to imitate behavior.

Do not feel that you have to give your children the benefit of available technology just because it is trendy.

Learn to say no and limit screen time for them. Replace modes of entertainment with other sources. There are plenty of toy options available for kids of every age other than staring at a screen. Shut that iPad down and go out and let them feel the grass beneath their feet.

But why are we only talking about children? Yes, it is true that they are at risk of being highly impacted, but parents are just as much at risk from spending a lot of time in front of the screen.

Advising your youngster to kill his computer games while you’re sitting before the TV won’t benefit anybody in any way. It’s significant to set boundaries on the use of gadgets for all of you.

Building Family Rules for Electronics

For parents who are worried about screen time for their kids, the American Academy of Pediatrics published their media rules two or three years back, based on the latest research. Their recommendations include:

  • No screen time for children under a year and a half.
  • For youngsters 18 months to two years old, guardians ought to pick the source of entertainment to watch with them.
  • For kids 2 to 5 years of age, children should watch programs that help develop behavioral functions along with parents.

Here are a couple of rules you should have to check screen time:

  • No gadgets amid family dinners.
  • No screen time in the vehicle.
  • No screens permitted in rooms.
  • No gadget use amid family fun evenings.

Final Thoughts

Understandably, it is difficult for parents out there to not be lured into handing out gadgets to their children, especially for parents with a busy schedule.

But try to take one step at a time with your children, otherwise, you’d be left competing for their attention with an inanimate object. Give your family time, create that special bond no device can replace. Happy parenting!

Author Bio:

Stepheny is a content writer at FeedFond. She’s a loving mother to her two children and is passionate about psychology and philosophy. To read more of her articles, visit FeedFond.com.

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