After a long hard day, sometimes the easiest thing to do is plunk the kids down in front of a computer, TV screen, or tablet so we can get some much-needed chores done or even have a couple minutes to relax. However, studies and real-life observation show that despite the convenience, screen time can have negative effects on our children. Here are some examples:
Higher screen time is correlated with higher weights in children. Obviously a child is not active while watching TV, unless engaging in something like Wii Fit. Kids often eat while watching TV and aren’t really aware of their consumption. Finally, ads for junk food and fast food can increase your child’s desire for these products.
To start, kids can have trouble going to sleep because they don’t want to turn off their devices. But aside from the compulsion to keep watching even when tired, the light of the screen can suppress production of hormones which kick the sleep cycle into gear.
For children who watch a lot more TV or play a lot more video games than the average, behavioural problems can result. Difficulty with focus and attention, emotional outburst, or social stunting can all occur as a result of too much screen time.
Trouble in School
Kids who watch a lot of TV often have trouble with schoolwork, homework completion, and test performance. This is especially true for kids who have televisions in their bedrooms or are allowed to use computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones in their rooms at night.
Unfortunately, TV and video games can expose children to violence. Even simulated violence can profoundly impact children and warp their perception of the world. Children can become desensitized to violence and see it as a normal or acceptable condition, not extreme behaviour being simulated for entertainment.
Active and creative play is so important to childhood, to brain development, and to interacting and forming social connections with other children. Too much screentime cuts into time to play and discover, and children are worse off as a result.
You can cut down on your children’s screen time, avoid allowing devices to be used in the bedroom, set strict limits on time. Above all, you can set a good example by turning off the TV and switching off devices to interact and engage with your children. The next generation will be better off.