Screen Time and Your Child - The Negatives
Nowadays, it seems as though children learn how to scroll before they can read. Technology is just a reality for children of this modern age. With this technology comes the inevitable screen time. Of course, technology is a great thing, advancing the way we live and teaching children new skills with ease. However, spending time in front of a screen can have negative effects on anyone so as you can imagine, children are even more susceptible to these effects.
Lower Attention Span
Dr Aric Sigman has done a lot of research into the effects screen time can have on young children. He reports that [Screen time] “is associated in a dose-response manner with subsequent attention problems in a variety of age groups”. The more screen time a child has, the greater the chance of them developing an attentional problem later in life. Even as a child progresses, the more they are exposed to a high amount of screen time the more likely a diagnosis of ADHD, independent of any attentional problems earlier in life.
We know tablets and phones have the ability to download a host of educational apps. As a parent, you may be keen to get them started early in a bid to help their development and give them an edge by the time they hit the classroom, however you may be doing more harm than good.
Hard to Differentiate
As a child observes their parent on their phone they are essentially learning how to interact with the world. They know how to swipe and scroll, and often apply this method to real life. A child might not realise that you have to turn a page of a book, rather than swiping across as you would on a screen. Psychology Today explains the negative response this can have on your child. A smartphone offers a child instant stimulus. The instant colours and noises offered to them from a screen releases dopamine in your child’s brain. This release is addictive, and therefore a child will start to only get satisfaction from interacting with a screen, rather than playing with peers or reading a book with you in the real world.
We’ve spoken about development in early childhood, and how your child begins to interact and socialise. The part of the brain responsible for your child’s ability to be social and interact with peers forms in their very young years. In order to learn how to forge friendships, understand social interactions and read people’s facial expressions. These have to be taught on a practical real-life level, they can’t learn these skills from a screen. So if your child is focused on a screen, they’re missing out on these very real interactions.
This one isn’t very hard to figure out, the more time your child spends stationary in front of a screen throughout the day the more likely they are to gain weight. If your child isn’t outside playing alone or with peers, they are at risk of becoming obese. In 2017 it was reported that almost a third of children in Ireland are obese. Cutting down on screen time can help reduce your child’s risk of developing an unhealthy lifestyle.
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