In today’s high-tech world, we are overly dependent on all sorts of gadgets on a daily basis, be it laptops, tablets, or smartphones. But what is alarming is the fact that now we see more and more kids using such gadgets from a very early age and this excessive screen time is doing more harm than what meets the eye. Kids this young are at an age where their brain is still developing and if they expose themselves to too much screen time, it leads to all sorts of disorders, some as serious as hastening of Autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
As a parent, you need to be aware of all the threats you are exposing your child to when you don’t put a limit on the time they can watch television, or play their favorite video games, or use your tablets. Here are some of the effects of excessive screen time on the mental health of your kids:
Leads To Sleep Deprivation:
Kids get so glued to the smartphones and tablets that it ultimately starts eating into their sleep time. The average child needs 10 to 12 hours of sleep for them to develop properly. However, if you leave your kids in their room with a gadget, chances are, they are not really sleeping even when the lights are off. Research has shown that blue light from the screens has a similar effect to caffeine and it gives the brain signals to wake up instead of sleeping.
Induces Stress Reactions:
Kids who spend too much time using electronic devices have a difficult time managing stress and being in control of their mood. They become overstimulated because of spending increased amounts of time on tablets, iPhones, and laptops. A recent study revealed that kids who spent more than two hours per day in front of a screen faced greater psychological difficulties than kids who spent fewer hours or no hours on gadgets.
Depletes The Mental Reserves:
High visuals and cognitive inputs deplete the mental energy reserves of the kids. Fast-paced programming games have a lot of distracting content and violent media that can raise attention problems and anxiety issues in your kids. These visuals give quick fire hits of dopamine and become so addictive that the kids find it hard to relate to a real-life situation.
Dr. Aric Sigman, an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society says, “When very small children get hooked on tablets and smartphones, they can unintentionally cause permanent damage to their still-developing brains. Too much screen time too soon is the very thing impeding the development of the abilities that parents are so eager to foster through the tablets. The ability to focus, to concentrate, to lend attention, to sense other people’s attitudes and communicate with them, to build a large vocabulary—all those abilities are harmed.”
Trouble Making Friends:
A child that spends a major chunk of his free time playing video games on his favorite play station, or watching television, is without a doubt going to be clueless when it comes to making real-life friends. He won’t know what human interaction feels like and how to carry real conversations. His physical activity levels would also take a hit and curb his growth and development which is crucial in the early stages. Such kids lack social skills and social etiquettes. They have a hard time in coping with face to face future adult relationships.
Excessive screen times are leading to childhood obesity as kids spend long hours sitting on their haunches glued to their electronic devices. The physical activities are very limited. The kids watch various commercials on television promoting junk food and high-calorie items which they crave for and become overweight. Obesity is also linked to other harmful health problems like diabetes and heart diseases. A child this young should be actively involved in playing outdoors and enjoying sports rather than getting distracted by technology.
We are all fully aware of the harmful electromagnetic radiations that these electronic devices emit which are not good for any individual, not just kids. The screen light does more damage in the dark and the eyes get more strained. Focusing on the screen for continuous amount of time can cause pain, watery and red eyes. It is important to keep away any kinds of gadgets from your kids’ reach especially in the night to avoid potential vision problems in the future.
Aches and Pains:
When a kid spends too much time with his tablet or Ipad or a smartphone, he uses his head, neck, and wrists at odd angles for too long which cause severe aches and pains. Whether it is the use of thumbs to control the joysticks of a video game, or for texting and chatting, prolonged wrong postures can pose severe threats as the child grows older. Back pain, arthritis, migraines, and repetitive motion syndrome are some of the health risks that kids these days face because of too much dependence on electronic gadgets.
Lots of video games that the kids play these days feature violence. In fact, kids get lured by such games that have a gory plot or require killing or use of weapons. This also translates into aggression and corrupts the young minds. They become more intolerant, cranky and short-tempered. Another contribution to behavioral changes in kids is due to online relationships and social media that have become a part of their lives at a very early stage. The virtual world overpowers their real world and causes serious trauma to such kids.
We hope this post was an eye opener for you. If your child is exposed to longer screen times, you should have that chat with him now and explain how this is damaging his health over time. Limit your child’s screen time and notice the difference in his mood and his personality. He would be more focused, happy, and social.