Children spend a lot of their time watching television, searching the internet, or texting their friends. Some spend more time on electronic media than they do in school. Spending too much screen time can take away a child’s energy and can lead to isolation. It is important for parents to monitor how much and how long their children are in front of screens and need to balance their free time with physical activities and social interactions. Don’t get me wrong- technology does serve a purpose. It provides with credible information. But spending time on entertainment media can have serious consequences.
Social interaction is limited: If your child is constantly in front of a computer or screen, it takes away the opportunity to be with friends in person and they are missing out on verbal conversations, social skills and knowing how to respond with others. Electronics are passive and offers no opportunity to interact with others.
Poor eating habits: Children need time to play and to be active. By playing games or watching television provides no benefit to their physical health. Television offers advertisement of food that has poor nutritional value which can increase the risk for children to become overweight. Children are not moving their bodies when they are watching television or on the computer and they are more likely to consume unhealthy foods without noticing what they are eating.
Education: According to Walsh (www.education.com) “A recent study showed that exposure to general television programming in early childhood is associated with inferior academic skills at school age. The children in the study who were regular viewers of mainstream television had smaller vocabularies and less developed math skills compared to children who viewed no television or children’s educational programs only” (Wright, 2001). Also, another study showed that children exposed to television more than three hours a day were at greater risk for attention problems. “Youths who watched 1 or more hours of television per day at mean age 14 years were at elevated risk for poor homework completion, negative attitudes toward school, poor grades, and long-term academic failure. In addition, youths who watched 3 or more hours of television per day were at elevated risk for subsequent attention problems and were the least likely to receive postsecondary education.” (Johnson, Cohen, Kasen, Brook, 2007 from http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com)
Sleep patterns: The light from a cell phone or television tricks your brain into thinking that it is daylight which messes with your sleep cycle. Watching television or staying on your phone provides with stimulation which wakens your brain when it is time to sleep.
Behavioral problems: According to the Mayo Clinic “elementary students spending more than two hours a day in front of computer or TV screens are more likely to have social, emotional and attention problems.” Children who spend time watching violent movies or playing violent video games may also experience increased aggression, fight with peers, and engage in more aggressive behaviors.
Addiction: Children can become addicted to screens. When screens are taken away, children become fidgety, restless, aggressive, and may see changes in their attitude.
Parents need to be careful and avoid the negative consequences that electronics can have on their children. Monitoring and limiting screen time is key.