Dangers of Too Much Screen Time for Kids & What Parents Can Do About It

Dangers of too much screen time for kids

Steve Jobs, creator of the iPhone, NEVER let his kids use the iPhone or iPad… even for viewing media that claims to be educational. 

Did he know something that we don’t?

Yes and no. He did know that our devices are designed for adults, but more importantly, he knew that the risks to developing children were unknown.

Screen time management is one of the biggest parenting challenges in the digital age. 

As childhood researchers try to keep up with new technologies they have just begun to assess the results of too much screen time. Results so far make it clear; This is a safety issue that isn’t getting enough attention.

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Decades of research has shown the damage caused to infants and children who experience too little stimulation, but studies have just begun to assess the result of too much stimulation. Among other findings, early studies have shown that over-stimulation from high levels of cognitive input may be damaging to the development of children’s vital sensory and processing systems.

Excessive Screen Time Dangers (OR) Dangers of Excessive Screen Time

  • Increased risk of attention and behavioral issues. Too much exposure compromises the part of  the brain that regulates attention.
  • Difficulty with vision & higher risk of vision correction at an earlier age.
  • Impeding the development of visual processing and sensory systems. These help a person    process what they see and understand the relation of their bodies to the outside world
  • Delayed and deficient language skills.
  • Encourages poor posture during crucial growth years.
  • Inhibition of the ability to recognize emotions.
  • Chronic sleep disruption. Especially nighttime exposure disrupts sleep cycles, suppresses    melatonin, and desynchronizing the body’s natural clock.
  • Linked to lower self-esteem.
  • Higher risk of tech addiction in childhood and adolescence. Many screen visuals overstimulate  the same dopamine receptors associated with addiction.
  • Linked to higher rates of childhood obesity.
  • Delayed speech for children under 2.
  • Less time spent in developmentally helpful interactions with siblings and parents.
  • Less emotional buoyancy as adolescents and adults.

 

Recommendations

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated their guidelines in 2016 to reflect findings from ongoing research.

  • No screen time under the age of 18 months. *Other than video-chatting.
  • For children 18-24 months old parents can introduce small amounts of screen media to use together, but should avoid solo screen time.
  • Kids between 2 and 5 should be limited to 1 hour per day or less.
  • 5 years & older 1-2 hours per day.

 

10 Tips for Helping Children Unplug

 1.   Make personalized guidelines for your household. You can even make a family media use plan.

2.  Access AAP resources for parents. They have great ideas for healthy media habits.           

3.  Have a family game night. This is especially a good idea when you are newly limiting           evening screen time.

4. Make a rule for everyone to have tech-free family meals. It’s good for the children       developing communication skills, and you’ll be amazed at the conversations that come up.

5.  Exercise together! Even simple exercises like running or jumping help train the pace of the   body. This can also retrain or reset a child’s vestibular system and calm the entire body.

6.  Let kids get a bit bored. Relax, boredom helps stimulate curiosity, creativity and play. Emotional buoyancy is developed through the important play prompted by ‘boredom’.

7.  Set the example! Studies have shown that on average parents spend 3 hours a day on screen time. Try unplugging more yourself and reflect on your kid’s reactions.

8. Get outside more! Outdoor activities promote healthier habits and natural sleep patterns.

9.   Common sense media  is another great resource for parents. The nonprofit provides information, tools, and reviews on media and technology for children.

10.  Read more with your kids, and encourage more solo reading.

In health and happiness, 

Dr. Lydia Signature.png

Sources:

https://www.healthpartners.com/hp/healthy-living/healthy-living-blog/helping-your-child-unplug.html

https://handsonotrehab.com/screen-time-brain-sensory-processing/

http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2014/08/28/343735856/kids-and-screen-time-what-does-the-research-say

http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/21/health/screen-time-media-rules-children-aap/index.html

https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/pages/media-and-children.aspx -AAP resources

http://www.healthychildren.org/MediaUsePlan Media Use Plan

https://youtu.be/jKbCmszqO9U  Webinar on children and media

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/ 

http://thekolaveridi.com/kolaveri-day/technology-useful-servant-dangerous-master/   

image credit: http://www.k5learning.com/blog/how-addicted-are-children-screentime