Screen time: Is your child Screen addicted?
With TV, Mobiles, Video games, Tablets easily available now a days and new generation being rapidly adapting to new things these all new gadgets are easily available to children and even toddlers. They are getting more and more engaged to the content served by these gadgets with daily spending more and more time. With the rise of covid-19 crisis and worldwide lockdown the problem is increasing explosively to the great magnitude. The screen time average for individuals including children has increased like never before in the history.
Let us see the causes that lead to increased screen time in children and toddlers. Then we will describe its effects and how to prevent it.
Causes of increased screen time in toddler and children
- · Unsafe neighborhood
- · Smaller families
- · Busy parents
- · Parents using gadgets
- · Reduced outdoor games
- · Cheap gadgets
- · Cheap internet
- · Status symbol
- · Educational contents
- · Entertaining content
- · Habit of eating while watching
If the neighborhood is perceived as unsafe to children, they are not allowed to go outside the home to play they have to find something to spend time. With no mates screens such as mobiles, tablets, laptops and video games become the only attraction for the children that can entertain them. Currently with wake of covid-19 situation this problem has increased to manifold and that is needed to. Not going for outdoor games children resort to screens for more time.
With culture of cities being considered superior and acceptable at all levels the size of families is getting smaller and families are becoming nuclear families. They are less number of people entertaining the children. With no other options to spend time with children are heavily attracted to the gadgets and screen.
Parents both being busy and not having time to spend with children, they feel lonely at home and they feel gadgets are their only mates with whom they can spend time with. Children are rather considered as burden in busy parents’ schedule which brings feeling of neglect in minds of the children.
Parents using gadgets
As demanded by job type parents may be busy all the time using the gadgets and in free time also they may be busy using social media and online games and web-series that are easily accessible. Children are fast learners and they learn from parents the habit of watching gadgets’ screen all the time. Parents advising children about not using gadgets and themselves resorting to mobiles and tablets confuse children. Truly children learn by imitating the parents.
Reduced outdoor games
Recently there is trend across the world that habit of playing outdoors is reduced in children of all age group. Apart from current covid-19 situation over the years there is a trend of reducing outdoor activities in the children. With reduction in time spent outdoors, children are rapidly becoming dependant on the activities on gadgets.
Over the years the gadgets which were costlier earlier are getting cheaper and affordable to increasing middle class and even the lower middle class. With easy availability it is not wonder if a single house has 2-3 mobiles and gadgets per person. These cheap easily available gadgets in each house attract the toddlers and children towards them.
Internet is getting cheaper around the world day by day. With easy availability of cheap and lightening fast internet, even more options are available for children to spend time on screen.
In many countries mobiles, tablets are considered as status symbol. The gadgets are many times bought unnecessarily replacing the other actual needs of families. With such a priority given to the gadgets children get the impression on their mind that gadgets are extremely important and good.
Process of education getting highly commercialized the providers are extremely focused on profit and has become money oriented. It becomes easy to sell the educational contents online and more profit can be generated. This profiteering has fuelled the habit of increasing screen time in children.
With increasing quality of entertainment and easy access to it children are getting habit of spending too much time on screen. Many times the entertainment is inappropriate and violent for the children leading to the other problems.
Habit of eating while watching
Many times to do activities that are daily chores like eating children are given screen as rewards. This habit increases the screen time in few days, Your children protests and stop eating if the screen is not given. Wrong parenting is increasing issue pushing the children towards screens that are easily available and accessible.
When to call it a screen addiction?
Currently like all many addictions this term is coming to birth called as screen addiction in children. Currently being a new term it is yet vaguely defined in the medical literature. We hear will try to define it in simple language. Anything is called as addiction when a person is doing it in place of activities he need to do. Normal activities of children are eating, sleeping, playing, and may be studying.
So screen addiction is defined as “The screen time replacing the time to eat, sleep and play and sometimes study in children can be considered as screen addiction.”
With given above definition it will be easy for you whether deciding your child is addicted to screen or not.
What are the effects of screen addiction?
Like any other addictions the screen addictions too have bad effects on children Let us list those effects and then we will describe them in details one by one.
- · Irritability
- · Eye strain
- · Headache, neck pain and backache
- · Sleeplessness
- · Obesity
- · Hypertension
- · Depression
- · Other mental illnesses
- · Addictions
- · Violent behaviors
- · Crime
- · Addiction to pornography
- · Academic loss
With increasing time spent on screen children become increasingly irritable. You will notice children who use gadgets excessively are short tempered and they cannot manage their emotions very effectively. Irritability leads to altered behavior and irritable children are unwanted in friends outdoor. This cycle makes they more increasingly attached to screen. It becomes addiction to the extent they start getting mixed with other relatives and children of the same age group.
With decreasing outdoor activities and increasing time spent in front of screens the incidence of myopia is increasing. Myopia is inability to see the objects at distance. It is proven relationship between myopia and decreased outdoor activities.
The screen emit light of many any colors and wavelengths. Undoubtedly many of these are harmless to human eyes. There in increasingly strong association between the blue color wavelength and the effect on retina of the eye. More over objects seen from very close to screen increases the strain on eyes.
Headache, neck pain and backache
Children for hours together staying in same position after some weeks complain of neck pain, headache and backache. Wrong posture daily for many hours and many weeks lead to these complain. If the cause is not corrected children may face the chronic problems affecting the quality of the life in these children.
The blue light coming from the screen affects the sleep wake cycle. The human brain learns about the environment by the light and the pineal gland in the brain sets the sleep wake cycle. With the light coming from the screen this mechanism is disturbed. In addition to that children may feel emotionally affected when they come across the inappropriate contents online. This may lead to sleep disturbance and sleeplessness even in children of the tender age.
Obesity is more common in children who spend more time in front of screen. The time spent in front of screen is less activity time and less energy is spent. Combined with it if children have habit of eating while watching screen they tend to eat excessively leading to obesity. Wrong type of food and junk food are promoted online in media pushing children towards wrong habits making them more prone for the obesity.
Obese children are more prone to hypertension either in childhood itself or later in adolescent or adult age. Along with obesity and hypertension other lifestyle diseases are common to occur nowadays.
Children spending more time in front of screen are prone to get depression. Recently world has seen many children committing suicide after playing a videogame for longer duration.
Other mental illnesses
Along with depression children are prone to get other mental illnesses. Mood disorders and even psychosis can occur with more screen time. The online content mostly takes children away from the reality, making them detached from the real world. It makes them alone and some children become psychopaths.
Children consider the heroes of games and online series as their role model. The wrong types of role model are projected as hero and the addictions are pushed as status symbol. The addictions are shown as necessity of life and children are pushed towards them. Children spending more time online are more prone to addictions.
Children are exposed to wrong type of contents on media and video games. The children spending more time online have tendency to show impulsive behavior and violent behavior. This problem is more commonly seen adolescent age group.
Crimes are excessively projected in media and online platforms. It produces feeling of insecurity in children. Criminals are projected as heroes on the media and children get pushed towards the criminal tendencies.
Addiction to pornography
Again children using screen and online platform without inspection of parents may lead to wrong use of the online contents. Children first see porn for the curiosity or they are accidentally exposed to wrong types of contents. They may get addicted to such contents.
Children who spend excess time in front of screen may get addicted to the screens and they may bunk their daily academic activities. They may remain absent from classes and outdoor sports. This inattention leads to the loss of academics in children.
Children who spend excess time in front of screen are prone to decreased attention span. They cannot concentrate a thing they are doing for the long. This habit may lead to loss in long term. The children may show impulsive behavior because of this inattention.
How to reduce screen time in children?
Though an emerging problem in recent times, the screen time can be reduced by some simple steps in children.
Let us here discuss ‘how to reduce screen time in children’. There are few simple steps we will list them first and then we will discuss in details one by one.
- · Stop using gadgets in front of children.
- · Promote outdoor games.
- · Stop giving gadgets as reward.
- · Make a rule that screen time should be less than one hour a day.
- · No screen after 7 PM in evening.
- · Give gadgets only after outdoor activities.
- · Monitor the use of gadgets.
- · Install parental locks.
- · Stop considering gadgets as status symbol.
- · No eating in front of screen.
- · Spend more time with children.
Stop using gadgets in front of children
Children are good learners and they do learn imitating the parents. If you have healthy habits of outdoor games your children will learn that too. If you spend all the time with your mobiles, laptops and tabs, your children will also learn the same thing. Changing ourselves rather than preaching the children is the best solution. Using gadgets in front of children as less as possible reduces possibility of children getting addicted to screens.
Promote outdoor games
Promoting outdoor games is the easiest way to get rid of screen addiction. Children spend more time in outdoor games will automatically reduce the screen time.
Stop giving gadgets as reward
Gadgets should not be used as rewards for the children. Using gadgets are rewards highlight the importance of gadgets to the children. They will get attracted to gadgets with more intensity.
Screen time less than hour a day
The screen time for toddlers and children should be less than one hour a day. It should not be more than that.
No screen after 7 PM in night
As we have discussed earlier more screen time leads to sleeplessness in children. This effect is prominent if they spend the time in front of screen after 7 PM in the evening. The children should not be allowed to watch the screen after 7 PM in the evening.
Give gadgets only after outdoor activity
The gadgets should not be allowed to children unless they spend time with outdoor physical activities. No outdoor games no gadgets too.
Monitor the children while using gadgets
Children should be monitored while they use gadgets. The type of content they consume online should be monitored by the parents. Only age appropriate content should be allowed that too for a limited time. Child should not be alone while using the gadgets.
Install the parental locks
Parental locks should be on in the gadgets to protect children from inappropriate content. Proper passwords should be set to lock them.
Stop considering gadgets as status symbol
The behavior of the parents and society should not create undue importance to the gadgets. Gadgets should not be projected and used as a status symbol. If used as status symbol children get more attracted to the gadgets.
No eating in front of screen
The screen should be off when you or your children consume the food. The habit of consuming food while watching screens should be strongly discouraged. Eating while watching screen leads to obesity and life style diseases.
Spend more time with kids
Parents should spend more time with the kids and involve in their activities and play. This habit plays important role in keeping children away from the screens. Toddlers like to pretend and play. Parents also should involve in those activities. These are most memorable events for you in your life.
Here we have explained everything about screen time. You still have doubts you can ask us in comment section.
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