So many of you often ask us that when can screen time be harmful? Well there is not just one answer but many answers. Currently I am helping eight children to overcome screen addiction out of which three are teenagers and three are toddlers. Rest two are in their school age.
My heart cries when I meet these children during sessions and when I interact with them. Hence I thought of penning my thoughts in this blog. Screen time can turn harmful at any age right from the time child is an infant.
Feeding food to toddlers and screen time
This is such a common scenario we see these days. I have seen parents using mobile and TV while feeding their children. You walk in any restaurant and you will notice infants as young as 8 months or may be younger to them are sitting on high chair with a mobile in front, someone feeding them. I meet many mothers who tell me that they use cell phone or Television to feed their toddlers of 1.5 or 2 years.
My question is that how is food and mobile is connected to each other?
Think about your childhood days and reflect, do you remember your parent showing you mobile or TV while feeding you?
A twelve or a fifteen months old child doesn’t even know about this connection. It is introduced by elders of the family and then one fine day the child refuses to eat without screen time. Out of which some children don’t demand cell phones rest of the day however there are others who keep on demanding cell phone throughout the day.
When your child eats while watching screen he doesn’t even know what is he eating and how much is he eating. A request to every parent of toddler especially whose kids are in between one month to three years kindly refrain to show any type of screen to children while eating. if possible show them least amount of TV and cell phone till the time they are three. Let it be the last activity for your children.
Dr.Samir H.Dalwai who is a well known developmental and behavioral pediatrician is of the opinion that there should be no screen time till the child is of two years and even after two years it should be only supervised screen time.
Screen time is considered equal to playtime
There are families who give children smartphones, tablets or switch on TV when they demand playtime. This habit is inculcated in their infancy, toddler-hood or early childhood days. This same child refrains to play anything real after they reach a particular age
Again reflect on your early days and think how many hours did you spend in front of Television. We were blessed that we didn’t have smart phones in that era. Our parents made every effort that we played indoors or go outdoors so why can’t we?
I feel so happy when I see school age children playing board games, reading stories, engaging themselves in pretend play and playing traditional games, sports too.
It is fun to see these children engaged in innocent talks and living in their imaginary world. I still get to see children who are not totally inclined towards screen.
Facts about ADHD and more use of screen time
A new study out of the University of Alberta has found that by the age of 5, children who spent two hours or more looking at a screen each day were 7.7 times more likely to meet the criteria for a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) when compared to children who spent 30 minutes or less each day on a screen.
If you observe children in an around you many children are becoming target of hyperactivity, attention deficits and impulsiveness.
There are many causes for this. However, one of the cause is too much exposure to screen time and lack of physical activities. Often parents of ADHD children come up and say that their child is extremely quiet while in front of screen but as soon as they are off screen they are extremely high on energy.
Similarly, children who watch too much animated cartoons are often impulsive and often on the move. If these children are not given timely help then they tend to loose their concentrations in studies when they grow up. These same children are often fidgety and at times show certain clumsiness in their daily activities.
Screen time and Mental state of mind
It is a very sad plight that parents feel if their child at a young age can scroll through mobile, click photos or go on a you tube then their child is really intelligent as compared to others. In fact few parents prefer to make their children listen to stories, songs and even give knowledge to the young toddlers through screen.
Like it is said everything in limit is fine same is with screen time. Overuse of screen can definitely lead to screen addiction. Have you seen a child and teenager with addiction of gadgets ? I wish that you must never meet one because the plight of such children is miserable.
Real case studies
I am counseling parents of toddlers these days whose children are merely 3 to 4 years old. They all are individual cases and their toddlers got used to watching you tube to such an extend that for every small thing their children’s need mobile.
All the three children have developed different issue. One of them has delayed milestones post he got addicted.
Other one is impulsive in nature and she doesn’t even know when she harms other kids around her. She was a very smart girl who has now become a very dull child.
The third boy is just 3 years old but extremely aggressive in nature. It is very difficult for him to make friends. Loss of appetite is observed in all three of them. This is just about their mental state of mind. Over and above there are health issues too. We are gradually helping the kids to come out of addiction.
The school age children with whom I am interacting, one is victim of Tik Tok and the other one is constantly glued to video games. Both of them were so involved with their mobiles whole day that they have almost lost touch with the real world. If you ask me age of kids, they are barely 8 and 10 years.
The teenagers who are coming for sessions are preparing for competitive exams and now they are highly addicted to screen because of which they aren’t able to study, neither sleep and anxious too. One of them is under depression and will be visiting a psychiatric too. The unfortunate part is two of the teenagers have ambitious parents and hence there is a gap between the parents and the children too which is adding to the current problem. I am not elaborating much on these cases but just tried to give you an overview of the current scenario.
Research on screen time and its effects on children
“Kids who are being put in front of screens are showing delayed development,” said lead researcher Sheri Madigan. She is research chair of child development with the University of Calgary’s department of psychology, in Canada.
“We found that, on average, children are viewing screens somewhere between two and three hours per day,” Madigan said. “This exceeds the recommended guidelines of no more than one hour of high-quality programming for kids between the ages of 2 and 5” set by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Growing data suggests that exposing young children to too much time in front of a TV or computer can have negative effects on their development, including issues with memory, attention and language skills.
In the latest look at the topic, researchers report in JAMA Pediatrics that more screen time is linked to poorer progress on key developmental measures such as communication skills, problem solving and social interactions among young kids over time.
Happy Children’s day
I don’t want to write any preachy tips in terms of how to reduce screen time for your child.
On this children’s day I wish all your children play more and spend less time with the gadgets.
Yes there will be an age when your child will demand screen and it is alright to give till the time your child doesn’t fall prey to it and doesn’t give priority to screen.
If you want to teach new things to your children, be it stories, games, language use the actual human connection and see the magic.
It is better that your child moves around and eat rather then he eating in front of mobile.
You should be happy if your child wants to meet his or her actual friends rather then chatting with his friends.
And yes if your child is keen to pursue a hobby please encourage him. It is definitely better then playing video games.
I am sure nothing can replace the time, love and affection that you can give to your children.
This children’s day bring out the child within you as well and share at least one inspiring story with your child of your childhood which your child has not done but you have done.
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