Being parents of young children, we all have repeatedly heard the recommendation to reduce the screen time (television, laptops, smartphones, and tablets) as much as we possible. For the majority of parents, adhering to such limits has proven challenging at most of the times.
Not long time ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics has come up with a new research and said that there are different types of screen time i.e. TV versus using the video chat. In the same research, the AAP has also discussed how we are exposing our children to screen time. This includes spending time in front of the screens with your children. Now, this helps them understand what they are actually seeing on their devices.
Importance of Limiting Screen Time
It is important to make your kids understand why reducing screen time is necessary for their skills development but at the same time, we should understand how to use the screens in front of them. Limiting screen time will help children focus on developing self-regulatory skills and they will be able to solve problems on their own. If we understand how we use screens with our kids then we have partially solved the problem.
When we use screens as a mere tool, we are basically relying on them. Since our children tend to imitate our actions, they start relying on them too. Many parents rely on screens to help distract their children so they cannot disturb them while they are busy doing an important task. When children become dependent on the screens for reliance, their ability to develop cognitive, physiological and emotional skills become limited.
These skills help build self-regulation in children and because of spending too much in front of screens, children may not be able to develop self-regulation skills. For instance, if parents develop a habit of putting up a YouTube video for the child every time the child gets upset, the child is not learning to use their body or brain to help them calm down on their own.
Further to that, young children are not using their own self-regulation skills to calm down themselves. Instead, they are relying on a YouTube video to help them calm down. They are depending on screen time to help them distract from a difficult situation and parents are encouraging them to do so.
Why Self-Regulatory Skills Are Important?
Developing self-regulatory skills are important because these skills will be valuable for the children when they are studying in school, such as listening attentively to their teacher or sitting calmly in a class. If parents want their children to develop these skills then they have to make sure they spend less time in front of their screens and do not rely on them.
Parents can also make use of parental control solutions and set them up on their children’s digital devices and online platforms to ensure their children are not spending too much time in front of their screens. Boundaries and time limits can be set on different apps and websites so the children can only use them at a specific time during the day.
Harmful Effects of Screen Time
Apart from not letting self-regulatory skills get developed, screen time can also affect kids in a lot of other harmful ways. Instead of relaxing the children, screen time overstimulates and distracts their brains to such an extent that it might create even bigger problems for families that rely too much on the screens to make their child sit quietly.
The child’s body may remain inactive while watching screens, their brain is constantly active as it absorbs intense, fast-moving stimulation through the eyes and ears. Teaching your child to rely on screens to calm down or take a rest is basically teaching them a way to overstimulate their brains.
When a child’s brain gets accustomed to such type of overstimulation, they become less interested in gaining other experiences that may not be much stimulating for them such as playing with toys, readings books or listening to their teacher.
Parents can become a role model for their kids by not spending too much time in front of screens. They should instigate more conversations with them and engage them in physical activities. Self-regulatory skills should be promoted among children so they can learn how to calm down themselves on their own, without the need of relying on the screens.