Dec 23, 2019

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The youth of today are growing up in the digital generation, constantly tethered to their phones, gaming consoles, and computers. While we can thank technology for the convenience it has brought us, it doesn’t come without its share of setbacks. For parents and kids, the challenge lies in knowing when to draw the line.

A study by the American Heart Association shows that most children now spend an average of six hours a day just staring at their screens. It’ hard to blame them due to the abundance of tech that surrounds them, but it’s still up to us parents and guardians to make sure screens don’t control their lives. Because screen time does more than just keep them sedentary — it can affect their brains too.

Hinders their cognitive abilities.

On average, children spend around four to five hours glued to a TV, mobile phone, tablet or computer screen. According to a new study by The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, this is nearly double the suggested limit of two
hours. The findings also revealed that children with excessive screen time showed poor working memory, slower processing speeds, and shorter attention spans. To combat this, it’s recommended that they get at least one hour of “active time” to stay physically and mentally fit. So it is important to think more about them engaging in real-life games and less virtual ones.

Keeps them from having a social life.

When your child becomes too engrossed in their gadgets, they feel less compelled to go out of the house. While the lack of exercise is certainly concerning, they can also be faced with more drastic issues, like social isolation. True enough, Odyssey note how being technology-dependent ruins their chances of understanding social cues. These cues are crucial to developing you child’s communication and social skills. Instead, encourage them to take a break once in a while and accompany them to the local park or playground where they can make new friends. If a fully-grown adult needs a good friend to help them get through tough times, then kids need them all the more.

Slows their development

If dependence on screens isn’t regulated at an early age, it can affect their overall development growing up. In fact, psychologists working at Maryville University emphasize the link between learning and mental health. This implies that how they hone their minds can affect how they progress in life especially when they are very young. Children with more than two hours of continuous daily screen time tend to struggle more in school, as an ongoing study from the National Institutes of Health found. Moreover, they tend to pick up on fundamentals much slower, like speaking and writing.

Gets in the way of sleep

If you notice your little one having a hard time falling asleep, it could be because of their gadgets. Research from Harvard University shows how artificial light, especially blue lights, confuses the brain and keeps it from falling asleep. No matter what age, sleep is essential, but even more for growing children. It’s what triggers their physical growth, increases their attention span, and keeps their systems in check. So, it’s definitely a concern if your kids stay up on their phones all night, and it is worth considering the possible repercussions to their sleep cycle.

Now that you know just how harmful excessive screen time can be, the next step is to do something about it. Of course, you don’t have to cut them off from technology completely, but you can show them that there is a life to be
had outside of a virtual one. Encourage them to get into sports, introduce them to hobbies like painting or dancing, or even sign them up for a summer camp like Camp IHC. Whatever it is, find an activity that you won’t have to force your kid to do. A life without technology shouldn’t be a punishment, but a luxury in itself.

Written by Cynthia Harvey for