How Screen Time Can Effect Your Children
Since we have been in lockdown for nearly three months (OMG that is mad!!) and our children have been out of school, we have been left with the task of entertaining them. For some of us, this is even harder as we are still working from home and when you need to get work done, what is the easiest option? -- Sticking them in front of a TV, letting them play on an iPad or smartphone. There is nothing wrong with this, but since our children are enjoying more screen time, we need to be conscious of how much is too much and what effects it could have on them.
What is screen time?
Screen time is the amount of time that someone spends using a device or computer, watching television or playing on a games console.
Pros Of Screen Time:
- Online games and activities can enhance teamwork and creativity
- The internet allows children to build their knowledge
- Children in households with computers perform better academically than peers who do not have ready access to computers.
- Can help connect people and ensure social contact between family & friends
Cons of Screen Time:
The number one issue with too much screen time is the effect it has on people's sleep. Especially for children and teenagers, whose brains are still developing. HMS researchers have shown that using blue light-emitting screen devices like smartphones before bedtime can disrupt sleep patterns by suppressing the secretion of the hormone melatonin.
Many teens who stay up on playing video games, on the computer or phones are getting less shut-eye. They’re also lacking the deep REM sleep essential for the processing and storing information from that day into memory.
A young person’s brain lacks a fully developed self-control system to help them with stopping obsessive behaviour. Children and teens are therefore more prone to becoming obsessed with being on their phones or playing video games. Too much screen-based entertainment can increase central nervous system arousal, which can amplify anxiety.
A lot of what happens on a screen provides “broken” stimulation to a developing brain compared to what real stimulants offer our minds. Children need the right balance of online and offline experiences to allow their imagination and creativity to run free. We are at our most creative when we are children, but instead of finding ways to entertain themselves when they are bored, children now just go to their iPads or smartphones.
Tips For Screen-Time
- Make sure you have screen-free time, such as dinner and breakfast. Make a point each week to spend an hour together as a family without screen-time as your source of entertainment.
- Try and limit screen-time in their bedrooms, this is for sleep and play.
- Keep having conversations about online safety, how to behave online, treating others with respect (both online and offline).
- Avoid screen-time an hour before you or your children go to bed. This will help to let your brain settle down and give your eyes time to relax and adjust for bedtime.
- When your children are playing video games, sit down with them and learn how to play, understand what the game is about before you decide it isn’t suitable.
- Give your children a screen-time limit each day, if they finish their homework, or clean their room, they can have an hour or two hours of screen time.
- Make sure your kids get some fresh air! Send them outside to run around the garden for an hour, let their minds take them out of boredom!
Technology is only going to get bigger and more advanced. As parents, we need to ensure that while our children enjoy these luxuries, it is not all they enjoy. Being a child is a time to run around and be as creative as possible, pretend there are pirates and unicorns in your backyard, not just sitting in front of a screen all day.