Must-know Negative Effects of Too Much Screen Time

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Is it reasonable for us to cut down screen time for our children? Or are we being borderline helicopter parents who simply want to assert our opinion on everything? In the age of technology, the following information provides real and compelling reasons to support our decision to cut down on tablets and TV.

 

Less in tuned with emotions

A research by the University of California in 2014 revealed that screen time inhibits a child’s ability to recognise emotions. This stems from the reduced face-to-face interaction that children require for optimal growth and development. When such interactions become infrequent, a child’s social skills will become more dormant. This is reflected in their finding which demonstrated that sixth-graders who took a five-day break from screens were more capable of reading emotions and relating to others.

 

Leads to lower self-esteem

Back to the point of reduced social interactions, it has been discovered that lesser face-to-face time can lead to greater anxiety in children. This can be a trigger for behavourial and emotional issues in the long run. According to a study published by Public Health England, “each additional hour of viewing increases children’s likelihood of experiencing socio-emotional problems and lower self-esteem.”

 

Lead to screen addiction

If adults can be addicted to screens, so will our young children? What’s more, there is science to back this up. According to various research, screen time triggers significant changes in brain chemistry. Exposure to screens releases dopamine, a pleasure chemical. And this is why children crave more screen time.

Already, many studies have proven the loss of tissue volume in gray matter areas of the brain in Internet and gaming addiction. Neuro-imaging findings also reveal changes in brain regions that involve emotional processing, attention span, decision-making and cognitive control.

 

Poorer quality of sleep

Sleep is important to our children as it directly impacts their physical and mental development. Sleep allows our body to be in a state of rest to repair and regenerate. It is also important for learning, memory and behaviours. But when screen time is introduced just before sleep, it can have profound effects on a child’s sleep patterns. For example, exciting video games or dramatic video scenes can engage and stimulate the brain to release adrenaline. This makes it difficult for the child to fall or stay asleep throughout the night.

Moreover, bright light emitted from many hand-held devices can affect sleep or sleep patterns in children, or adults for that matter. Exposure to these lights prior to sleep can induce alertness in one. It also disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm as it suppresses the release of melatonin, a hormone that is important in maintaining and regulating our sleeping cycles.

 

Leads to obesity

This does not require much explaining. Young children should be leading an active lifestyle. Being cooped up in a room perusing the computer or iPad for hours on end encourages a sedentary lifestyle that can lead to weight gain.

 

Conclusion

 We cannot stop technology from infiltrating our lives, much less the lives of a generation that will become increasingly reliant on modern technology and its conveniences. The crux of the matter then lies in how we can manage the use of technology such that our children can enjoy its conveniences without having to bear the brunt of its side effects.

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