Negative effects of screen time on kids

Can you guess how much time teenagers spend on screens outside of school time? According to a recent study reports that teenagers spend an average of  9hrs online and kids from ages 8-12 spend an average of 6 hrs. While there are an array of benefits from learning new skills online, developing problem solving skills to researching on subjects for educational purposes. We can’t thank enough that technology has got the entire world at our fingertips, but the same has shifted how human’s operate and is posing a potential threat for our young generation’s health. Continuous consumption of digital content has derailed creativity and need for social interaction. Here is a list of negative effects of too much screen time on kids.

How much screen time is too much?

As per American Academy of Pediatrics and World health organization recommendation on Screen time guidelines by age 
under 2 yrs  = zero hours 
3 -5 yrs  =1 hour
6-10 yrs =1.5 hours
>10 yrs = 2 hours
Too much screen time in younger kids 0-4 years have shown development delays. 

9 Negative effects of too much screen time on kids

  1. As parents we have witnessed bad behavior when we take devices away. Anger, Irritation, throwing tantrums and sometimes aggressive behavior. Kids watching excessive screen time show symptoms of being inattentive and hyperactive behaviors associated with ADHD. Attention deficit problems lead to lower grades at school, stress and anxiety.

  1. Watching programs that are not age appropriate. This can be harmful for their mental health. Parents should take an active role in approving and monitoring what kids can watch. Block content which is not appropriate using parental controls Enable password protected screen time. I have explained how to enable parental controls in my video. Please watch.

 

  1. Cyber Bulling – Sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation. Please make your child aware of such possibilities in the online world, to be careful of what data goes out. Children are so naive they take everything so personally and feel embarrassed. We have to make them understand it’s ok to share with parents and not deal with it alone. As parents we need to take such issues with great patience and absolute calmness to gain the trust of your child.
  1. Online Predators – Adults who use the internet to entice children for sexual or other types of abusive exploitation are considered online predators. Never chat with strangers. Never divulge personal information such as birth of date, address, phone number, parent details, school name, photograph or any private data. If the child has ever divulged information to strangers and is concerned. They should feel free to take your help. Make them aware of online predators and what precautions they need to take.
  1. Surveillance Capitalism – The concept is well explained by the American author Shoshana Zuboff in her international best seller “The age of surveillance capitalism”. Here the author highlights how the big social media companies how our personal data gathered is used by others not only to predict our behavior but also to modify and influence it. Though predicting our interests and supplying us information is incredibly helpful and saves time. But in the bargain we are giving into the thirst of quenching information by consuming never ending supply of similar content and getting influenced. It’s not just content, sometimes it’s fake, we believe it’s true. Sometimes we become victims of cyber crime that impacts our mental health and can get as serious as depression. I highly recommend you to watch the Social Dilemma, a Netflix documentary depicting the potential threats of social media on our kids. It’s worth watching.
  1. Addiction – It is said that the exciting nature of screen time triggers a rush of Dopamine (pleasure hormone) in kids. More dopamine is released, the more we want to be glued to our devices. Addiction problems can lead to anxiety, stress and depression.
  1. Sleep deprivation problems – Electronic devices emit an artificial blue light that can suppress the release of the body’s sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin.  It disrupts the regular sleep cycle that can lead to other disorders in the functioning of the body. Please try to disconnect from gadgets 1 hour before, if you experience sleep problems.
  1. Lower physical exercise – Many studies have shown association between too much screen time and obesity and development of diabetes in young children. Find reference to 2 research citations in the below sources section to know more on association of more screen time with obesity and diabetes.
  1. Eye strain – It can cause headaches, tired weak eyes, blurred vision and dry eyes. Please ask  your kids to practice the 20-20-20 rule. This rule was popularized by Dr. Jeff Anshell, a specialist in “vision ergonomics.” Every 20 minutes, look at an object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

How to effectively manage screen time?

1. Have limited screen time – As per American Academy of Pediatrics, permissible screen time for entertainment should be less than 2 hours. During remote school days as we have 6 hours of screen already, encourage kids to go on zero hour screen time Monday-Friday. 

2. Kids often follow parents, so please be a good role model.

3. Watch only shows and games which are age appropriate and approved by your parents.

4. No screen time during meals – make a family rule.

5. No screen time 1 hour before you sleep.

6. Keep screens out of the bedroom and study room.

7. Enjoy a gadget free vacation with your family. 

That’s an exhaustive research on negative effects of too much screen time on kids and suggestions how to mitigate the risk. Hope you found this article resourceful. Please share with your family and friends.

Sources

To grow up healthy children need to sit less and play more
https://www.who.int/news/item/24-04-2019-to-grow-up-healthy-children-need-to-sit-less-and-play-more
Media use in school aged children http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/138/5/e20162592
Parents ultimate guide to parental controls https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/parents-ultimate-guide-to-parental-controls
How much screen time is too much https://newsroom.osfhealthcare.org/screen-time-for-kids-how-much-is-too-much/ 
https://www.stopbullying.gov/bullying/what-is-bullying
Eye Health from Children’s hospital Philidelphia
https://internetsafety101.org/internetpredators
https://www.eyepromise.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Screentime-Recommendation-Chart-Final_AAP-WHO.pdf
https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/more-screen-time-more-obesity/
https://www.nhs.uk/news/diabetes/childrens-screen-time-linked-to-diabetes-risk-factors/
https://www.netflix.com/title/81254224 – the Social Dilemma

 

You can also find the below video on my YouTube channel TLV Talks. Please like, comment, subscribe and share with your friends and family. Thank you for supporting my channel.

Credit: Photos/Videos by Pexels & Pixabay

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