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11

Jan
How Screentime Affects Children's Health?

How Screentime Affects Children's Health?

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How Screentime Affects Children's Health?

Digital devices and latest technology have been bringing both pros and cons to daily life, and the most common agreeable benefit being brought to daily life is the convenience they provided. Nevertheless, experts noticed the cons that digital devices and latest technology are at high chance that it may affect our health, no matter in young children or even adults.

A very common scene in public nowadays is that screen is offered to children, toddler, or even during infancy period. Digital devices are no longer a trend among adults and teens only. It is undeniable the easiest way to deal with cranky kids, and or to keep the child to focus on a screen so that the parents or the caregiver(s) could work on something else without being interrupted. However, revealing how screen time could affect health or even the development of their children, will parents willing to kick this habit away and go back to the old method? I doubt.

The physician and filmmaker Delaney Ruston found out that kids spend an average of 6.5 to 8 hours a day looking at screens, as a doctor she wondered the impact of all this screen time have on health, then she investigates this question in her documentary Screenagers, which explores how young people use digital devices and the possible effects on their brains. She discovers digital media use can produce a drug-like effect, felt at any age but most intensely during the teen years. When parents abruptly take away the device from their child, a meltdown typically ensues.

“I think so many parents are feeling out of control,” Ruston says.

In recent years, many countries are experiencing epidemic levels of myopia or short-sightedness, researchers think that indoor time may be to blame. They believe that exposure to sunlight is important for proper eye development. In the year of 2013, teachers at a Taiwanese school made their students stay outdoor for their entire 80-minutes recess period and positively lead to lower amount of students being diagnosed with myopia a year later as compared to a neighbouring school.

Research has also found that screen use among children lead to shorter and poorer quality of sleep. Children would rather stay up late night to get more time spent on screen, and having longer time spent on screen before sleep, causing the brain to constantly function without getting into the real resting mode, will then lead to lower quality sleep.

Surprisingly, screen time correlates with weight increased too. Several studies have shown that the more TV children watch, the more likely they are to be overweight, and this will also increase the risk of being an overweight adult as well.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, screen time is suggested having effect on the development of fundamental learning, language, and emotional skills. Although some studies had proven that kids who are 30 months and below do have a limited ability to learn from videos, the American Academy of Pediatrics does not encourage the use of media for children below 2 years old. Besides, screen time reduces unstructured play time, restricts children to explore the world, which is believed to be very important for learning and problem solving. On the other hand, live interaction with people and immediate feedback seems to have more positive effect on learning.

The impact continues on the development of language skills. Research has proven that screen time taking over time spent interacting with caregivers has the ability to obstruct language development in children. The chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council, Dr David Hill says, “Screen time reduces speech between parents and their infants and toddlers.” It could be so confusing for them to learn multitasking. This is due to the reason that when they are occupied with the screen, focus and attention are being trained, if parents or caregivers trying to interact with them, shall they focus on the live interaction or continue on what they are more interested on the screen? This could be a practice on selective attention and this is why parents or caregivers complain about children being less responsive. This is merely because they were not guided properly since young.

If those mentioned earlier does not worry you a single bit, this might be the only reason you will consider dropping of the behaviour of forcing your child to stick with the screen. The use of screen time to keep your child “shut-up” during day-to-day tasks such as dining out or shopping, might actually prevent them from learning how to regulate boredom, distress, and other impulses and emotions. Back in our days, we played with other kids in the same space (e.g. restaurants, shopping mall etc.), explore on our own, as well as learning about daily use products. It is understandable that it is no longer safe that parents will never allow their children to leave their sights, children nowadays still need to equip more on common knowledge and regulate themselves.

Would you, as a parent or caregiver continue providing a screen to a child, a toddler or an infant as the use of a pacifier after knowing the negative impacts that it may lead to?

If you are ready to kick the habit off, look here! Do check out some methods to kick the habit of yourself before planning for a series to help your kids out! As it mentioned, it is important to set a good example, not only for your kids but also for your own health.

The following article, we will then look into how screen time may affect teenagers and adults! If by then, you have successfully kicked off the habit of gluing onto your screen, you will be rejoice that you are no longer at risk at those health issues that screen time might lead to.

Contributed by:

Vernice Si Toh

Psychologist of Spectrum of Life.