A lot has been said about the way the technological advance is killing the creative side of the kids and in a recent interview Bill Gates revealed that he didn’t let his kids own a Smartphone until they were fourteen. This comes as a little surprise as the man who strived so much for technological development has been so rigid in letting his kids embrace technology.
Lately, there’s been an increased concern about the devices kids are surrounded with and which are though meant to make them learn many things at once is actually causing more harm than good. Delving totally into the virtual world kid often appears to be uncomfortable with a face to face interaction, and they’re choosing these devices over an outdoor game or socializing with friends.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) there are guidelines for screen time:
- For babies and toddlers up to 18 months: old there should be no screen time at all, except video chatting with friends and family.
- Toddlers of 18 months to 24 months: a little bit of screen time with a parent or a care giver.
- For preschoolers: just an hour a day with educational programs with a parent or a caregiver, who can help them understand what is it that they’re seeing.
- Kids and teens (5-18 years): Parents need to exercise their screen time that includes watching television, social media and video games. The screen time mustn’t stop kids from getting enough sleep or physical activity.
Let’s have a look at few of the side effects of excessive screen time on kids:
1. Vision related problems
If children are spending way more time on the computers or other gizmos than what is suggested they are likely to develop computer vision syndrome. Eye care specialists believe that prolonged use of computers can put the child’s vision at risk by causing myopia.
All the devices emit harmful blue light, also called ‘High Energy Visible Light’ or ‘HEV light’ which have an awful effect on the children’s vision over time. To minimize the problem, parents can make sure that the computer screen is 15 degrees below the eye level with the child’s back straight and shoulders relaxed. And use eye glasses that are made to block the harmful HEV rays.
2. Addiction to the devices
The pleasure when a child gets when they swipe their ipad or iphone and instantly they get to see a video which they enjoy, increases the hormone which is known for bringing happiness: dopamine.
And when the child doesn’t get the instant gratification, they tend to get irritated and demand for the gadget to be given to them. This behavior, according to the researchers is similar to that of a person addicted to alcohol or drugs, but it is at a less severity phase.
Make strict rules as to when the children can have screen time and do look at the information they are browsing. It will help if their on screen times are share with their siblings.
3. Too much of information
If overlooked, children tend to click whatever information is thrown at them. The curiosity to know everything can be very dangerous when they using the internet. According to the studies, teenagers who watch pornographic or sexually explicit content are more likely to display the interest in sexual activities earlier than their peers who do not engage in watching such content.
Pornography has an adverse effect on their lives in future, as they are more inclined to replicate what they saw. It is mandatory to have parental control on the computer or the device that children are using so that parents can keep tabs on which sites are being visited by their kids.
4. Affect on the child’s health
The uncontrolled screen time can be a major culprit in your child’s health and obesity is often linked to the way children use devices without getting much physical activity at all. It is observed that children who forget themselves by being engrossed into their devices do not have any physical activity and tend to eat junk food a lot, as a quick snack.
It’s better to educate your child about taking breaks in using the gadgets, make a pact with them that only if they take breaks in between, you will allow them to use a gadget. However, don’t start bribing your child about screen time as it may have a negative effect as they will throw tantrums to get what they want i.e., more screen time.
5. Falling prey to online bullying
Another increasing concern is teens who are giving into the online bullying and ending their lives. Parents do have to take charge when their child expresses a desire to be on the social media. A clear cut explanation, that nothing in virtual world is real and long lasting and they shouldn’t be intimidated by strangers at all will help the child get a perspective. Online games such as ‘Blue Whale’ are provoking kids to take up their lives.
Have open conversations with your child and it’s crucial to answer their questions right away as you don’t want them to search an answer for the life questions on the internet.