Impact of Increased Screen Time in Children A Burning problem in Covid Era
In today’s scenario, increase in screen time in children is inevitable considering necessity of on line classes coupled with restricted physical activity. Nearly half of all children 8 and under have their own digital devices and spend an average of about 2.25hr a day on digital screen so the permissible time of upto 2hrs in invariably exceeded.
If young children most of their time is being spent on digital devices, it can be hard to get them engaged in non electronic devices. Young children learn by exploring their environment and watching the adults in their lives and then imitating them. Excessive screen time may inhibit their ability to observe and experience the typical everyday activities they need to engage with in order to learn about the world leading to a kind of tunnel vision which can be detrimental to overall development. Such children score low on language and thinking tests. Excessive screen time may lead to thinning of brain cortex.
Such children will not engage in playing with toys, foster imagination and creativity, will not play outdoor games, with other children to develop appropriate social skills.
In young children, It hinders with their language development and communication skill, they will have poor reading skill and attention deficit.
Such children will have behavior problems. Children exposed to violent TV shows due to lack of parental control can cause children to become insensitive. Eventually they will use violence to solve their problems
Sleep problems and other physical effects
The blue light from screen inhibits melanin which can delay sleep. Brain and body is active which also delay sleep. Lack of sleep will in turn affect behavior and cognitive performance. It is linked with obesity which in turn affects self esteem which leads to social isolation and more screen time so a vicious cycle is there. Physical strain to yours eyes and dry eyes can lead to retinal damage and blurred vision.
Poor posture when using screen can cause chronic neck, shoulder and back pain. It will also impact social aspects. Fewer friends, poor relationships and low self esteem.
With moderation, there are some benefits of screen time – It has educational value as it is helpful in school related work and research. Playing video games will improve coordination.
Recommendation to decrease screen time
First of all, avoid screen for children younger than 18-24 months.
Limiting screen use for preschool children aged 2-5hrs to just 1hr a day of high quality programmes.
Tips for parents to limit screen time
- Co-watch whenever possible – Watch show or game with them as much as possible to help them understand what they are seeing.
- Choose media wisely.
- Keep bed time, mealtime and family time screen free – Don’t use screen in cars. Balancing on time and off time is extremely important.
- Limit your own phone use – because kids imitate their parent’s action. Parents are role models for them.
- Emphasizing the big three
- Sleep, healthy nutrition and exercise – All three are essential to optimal brain growth and development.
- Children who spend more time in front of screen have been shown to eat more fast food and less fruits and vegetables
- Therefore, It is important to incorporate healthy life style
- Turn media mistakes in teachable moments
In nutshell moderation is the key to limits damage due to digital screen
Dr. Kavita Sharma
Paediatrics & Neonatology