Are you a worrying parent because of kids screen time issues? Are you always feeling concerned about your children gazing into the screens of smart devices? Well, you are not alone. There are millions of parents who share the same worry, which we can refer to as ‘screen time’ issues.
Without going into a technical definition. For the sake of simplicity screen time may be defined as the time your child spends in front of screen. Watching television, using a mobile phone, playing games on electronic gadgets, etc.
Screen time is an issue which our elderly parents never had to worry about. This is a problem of this age. While the screen time itself is a reason of concern. The greater concern here is the continuous increase in it with each passing day.
Yes each passing day not a year. Because the development in technology is relentless and continuously we are seeing applications harnessing the technology.
Before moving further let’s understand some guidelines pertaining to the issue to understand what’s the norm and whether or not our worries are justified.
Some Guidelines On Kids Screen Time Usage
So, buckle up the seat belts as we are about to share some hardline facts.
The American Academy of Paediatrics completely discourages media use for children younger than 24 or at least 18 months. The only exception here is the video calling to friends and family which we understand is unavoidable.
For children aged 2 to 5, limiting screen time to one hour a day is recommended. And even that one hour should be of high-quality content.
After the age of 5, the recommendation from the American Health Association is to limit screen time for kids to a maximum of 2 hours per day.
Now let’s have a reality check, as opposed to these guidelines. Children aged from 8 to 12 years spend around 4 to 6 hours daily in front of screens, which can shoot up to 9 hours per day for teens.
Seeing these facts it’s time that we now take a moment to understand. That what are the dangers of the increased screen time. And how our children are at risk.
Threats of Increased Screen Time
Before we start compiling the list of the potential threats associated with increased screen time. Let us be honest about the fact that enumerating these can be an exhaustive and a complex task. Simply for the reason that increased screen time not only has direct health hazards. It is responsible for multiple indirect personality, physique, cognitive and social issues.
Let’s take a look into some of the notable threats.
1. Screen Time Effects On Vision
This perhaps is one of the most obvious dangers of the increased screen time and something we can witness around us. You can witness more and more young children with spectacles on their eyes in your neighborhood and around.
Apart from weak eyesight, some of the other most common defects include strained and dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches, dark circles around the eyes.
2. Sleep Deprivation
It’s a no brainer that gazing at bright screens (blue light) negatively impacts the sleep-inducing ability. And is the prime reason for sleep disorders. The issue is backed by a scientific study. That terms blue light emitting from these screens as responsible for sleep deprivation.
3. Sluggishness and Lethargy
The increased screen time has turned many kids into couch potatoes. Resulting in them feeling sluggish and lethargic. With communication, education, entertainment, and information services at our fingertips. Sluggishness has become a new norm and a habit in children being a cause of worry for many parents.
4. Kids Obesity
After having discussed the habit of laziness and lethargy. This concern is obvious to make part of the list. Screen time robs children the virtues of physical activities and outdoor games. Thus being a reason of weight gain in children. No wonder that sight of obese children is getting common day by day.
5. Physical Health Issues Owing To Higher Screen Time
Never before were the heart and other diseases as common as we can witness these days in young children. Children of current age lack vigor, physical strength, stamina, and suffer from a compromised immune system. These issues are growing challenges that parents face in the digital era.
Screen Time And Personality Issues
Now after discussing some of the threats of screen time on physical health. Let us now see how this dilemma can affect the personality and behaviour of children. It’s pertinent to note that the impacts of screen time on personality and behaviour are more serious. As these are not apparently visible and can manifest in their personality later on in life.
Some of the personality issues are as follows. Also read A Guide On Child Disciplining
1. Impaired Learning
As virtual learning is becoming more and more common in these pandemic times. Our children have no choice but to be exposed to learning from the screens of electronic devices. Even though this offers a viable learning mechanism in cases where physical classes are not possible. It ensures limited learning only. Children don’t get the complete opportunity of personality and emotional skills development thus leaving them the victims of partial learning.
2. Speech Problems
Increased screen time impacts cognitive development which in turn creates language barriers for children often resulting in speech delays and other language disorders. Another way in which screen time hampers language development is by robbing children of the time they should be spending communicating with parents and loved ones.
3. Emotional Development & Self Confidence
Emotional stability, self-confidence, and other behavioural traits stem in children in their young ages. Which grow further as children advance in life. Excessive screen time in children creates obstacles in the development of these virtues in children.
Spending more time in front of screens narrows down the focus of attention and inquisition in children. It devoids them of critical thinking and reasoning opportunities.
4. Violence, And Stubbornness
Increased screen time comes with certain ill manner problems in children such as violence, irritation and stubbornness. Obviously, this should not be any surprising as we know that children learn and adapt to what they see. And a lot of the content children watch may not suited for their developing and receptive minds.
Tips For Reducing Kids Screen Time
Well, now we have understood how screen time impacts children. Let’s now move on to understand how you can mitigate these challenges.
1. Be A Responsible Parent
Notice how many times you tell your child off for excessive usage of electronic gadgets while holding your gadgets in your own hand. This obviously is not a good idea nor effective. If you want to educate your child on limiting screen time you need to be a role model yourself.
Consciously make efforts to limit the usage of mobile phones and laptops in front of children. You can do this by including little changes in your schedule. When talking to children make sure that your mobile phones are not kept nearby, to help prevent you from unconscious usage of the phone.
2. Engage More and More In Healthy Activities
Accept it or not but often we are the reason that young kids resort to the electronic devices. Due to the busy schedules we have we let children deliberately spend time and seek education and entertainment from these sources. Where in reality this is supposed to be the job of the parents.
By engaging with our children in healthy discussions, board games, gardening, kitchen chores, or any such activity. We may divert their attention from digital entertainment to real-life fun and pleasures. Furthermore, when children engage more and more in non-digital activities. They will have less and less time available for getting hooked in front of screens.
3. Restrict Access To Devices
Remember the days there used to be a telephone wired with the wall or fixed on the table. And a single television mounted in the lounge. Nowadays owing to the abundance of digital gadgets children have not one but several devices within their reach.
You must have heard the golden rule ‘out of sight out of mind’. Try use the same rule when working towards the reduction of screen time for the children. Keep handheld devices, games, or remote controls away from children and out of their instant reach. So that those devices do not entice them in the first place.
4. Don’t Tie Digital Entertainment With Reward
We see parents promising children to buy them popular video games, electronic entertainment devices, or media subscriptions as their birthday present or any reward. This no doubt looks like a symbol of caring or love but on the contrary, is the opposite. It’s like deliberately exposing children to threats of increased screen time.
5. Teach Them Rationale And Logic
Children pay attention to our lessons and instructions if we strive to teach them lovingly rather than reprimanding or scolding them. Teach them the adverse effects and the logic behind reducing the usage of these devices in an emphatic manner day by day.
The effects may not be immediately evident in their behaviour. But will surely and gradually make them more responsible and understanding. The only key here is an easy explanation rather than harsh scolding or forceful actions.
6. Education With Responsibility
Well in current times we can see more and more utilization of screen time for education, which we call virtual learning. Virtual learning is a suitable alternative to education in COVID-19 times and in situations where physical education is not an option.
However, parents should monitor that the time the child spends in front of a screen for education remains solely for that. And they don’t end up spending unnecessary time in front of screens.
Final Word On Kids Screen Time Usage
Screen time even though posing threats to children is inevitable. It will gradually increase in times to come owing to our dependency on technology. In parallel to the drawbacks mentioned here. The wise usage of screen time offers various benefits as well. Such as boosting creativity, increasing general knowledge, self-learning, and quick information.
It is the responsibility of parents to harness the maximum pros of technology while keeping threats at bay for children. You may also like reading 19 Parenting Tips You Should Not Ignore