We’ve all experienced, or at least seen it: you’re in public and a child is either denied access to a phone, or has a phone or tablet taken away from them. The ensuing tantrum surpasses most other freak outs. We know that nowadays kids have relationships with screens that make most uncomfortable. The reason for their obsession aside, what happens to children when they have screen time? The effects of screen time on children is the frequent subject of articles and studies. Let’s run down some of the effects of screen time for kids.
Children’s brains cannot handle the dopamine exposure related to excessive screen time. The screens themselves, in this case, don’t affect the dopamine, what the screens show causes the problems. Social media, games, and videos all connect to your children’s brain chemistry in an unnatural and aggressive way. The feeling a child gets when they win a game when they scroll a timeline, or when they finish a video causes addiction. Addiction to the feeling the screen gives them, and thus addiction to the screen. A prime example of this is “unboxing videos.” We watch them as adults too. The videos feature someone opening a present or a new toy. The anticipation and elation of opening a present or new toy is felt not only by the opener but the watcher. Children, then, learn the behavior of gaining a “rush” of chemicals from watching someone else do something they want to do. Watching it in real life, however, differs. The “on-demand” and artificial nature of these videos speak for themselves.
Developmental disorders, and difficulties follow excessive screen time. Children struggle in development both socially and mentally if they addict themselves to screens, especially at young ages. Face-to-face interaction is key to help children develop into fully formed, socially confident individuals. The regressive social tendency common today among children is due, at least in part, to screen time. Not only do they learn to entertain themselves without friends, they learn that they don’t need any kind of interaction to be engaged. They simply need something on a screen they enjoy watching or playing. Mentally kids who use too much screen time struggle more in school.
This connection is obvious, and sometimes overblown. However, kids who use screens too much are prone to obesity, and other fitness-related problems. The reason, of course, is a sedentary lifestyle. Limiting screen time leads children to seek entertainment outside of the house or in more physical pursuits. Such physical activities’ importance cannot be overstated.
Eye and Sleep Health
Children more and more complain of struggling with digital eye strain, and sleep issues. Both are attributable to screen exposure. Unlike the other effects listed here, however, both of these issues relate to the screens, not to the content necessarily. The blue light emitted by the screens causes digital eye strain, and disrupts sleep cycle. Children are especially vulnerable, given their early developmental stages. The sheer volume of blue light hitting their eyes hurts them, regardless of the content on the screens.
Striking a balance with your kids’ screen time can be tricky. It’s up to each parent to decide how to approach it. The issues raised here cannot, however, be ignored. Bear in mind your children’s development and future. As for the question of eye and sleep health, watch what this doctor recommends for you and your kids, and check out the product especially for kids.