Screen Addiction in kids: The advancement of technology has occupied a great space in the day to day life of a human. This today plays is a great role in most of our daily chores making our lives easy. It has unlocked a huge amount of human potential.
Since the law of balance applies to everything in life the use of technology should be moderate. An excess of it will cause detrimental effects, especially for growing children.
As the number of kids remaining indoors increase due to the corona breakout, they will want to find ways to kill their boredom. The easiest solution will be to play a game, watch a movie, or browse the social media.
- What is screen time
- What is screen addiction?
- Facts and research about screen time
- How it affects a child’s brain development
- Why kids fall prey to screen addiction
- How to prevent kids screen addiction- Note and Tips to parents
What is screen time?
Screen time, as the name suggests, is the amount of time spent by an individual using a device that has a screen. This can be a Smartphone, Television, or a Personal computer.
Screen time can be measured by inbuilt services within the device. This has also been a factor considered by buyers when purchasing used devices.
Excessive screen time leads to screen addiction in kids.
What is screen addiction?
Before knowing what screen addiction in kids is. Let us first understand what the word addiction means.
Addiction is a complex brain disorder, where an individual compulsively engages on a rewarding task, despite it being harmful to the user.
Anything becomes an addiction when the individual start losing control over the activity of engaging with the object he is addicted to. The temptation to engage even though it is harmful for self becomes much more compelling than his own will power.
A person can get addicted to anything. Addiction needs an object. The object can be anything right from drugs, alcohol, sex. Seemingly innocent objects or substance like chocolates, work, and screen time.
There is nothing called good addiction or bad addiction. addiction does not favour any age or gender. Even little children can form, and addiction do something.
An addiction develops when a person repeatedly engages with an object which doing activity which results in the person feeling good or better.
Screen time addiction is a disease where an individual is obsessed over the idea of glaring at a screen despite it being harmful.
The individual spends his time in front of us screen which is not only healthy for him and his eyes but also make him lead a sedentary life.
Facts and Research about screen addiction in Kids.
2017 UNICEF’s online survey reveals that, children represent 1 in 3 internet users worldwide.
That is close to 660 million kids around the world. A research conducted by Childwise in 2015, discovered children aged 5-16 spend an average of 6.5 hours a day looking at a screen.
When calculated this amount to 98 days per year, or 3 months and 8 days.
Taking this into account, we can conclude that an average child spends almost 3 months a year looking at a screen.
Apart from these crazy statistics here are some facts about screen time which might amaze you.
1. This may shock you; Prisoners spend more time outdoors than kid’s do.
Prisoners usually spend 2-4 hours a day outside engaging in outdoor activities. So, this is less than 2 hours a day. A survey conducted by Percil’s “Dirt is good” campaign gathered information from 2000 parents of 5-12-year-olds.
2. Around 25% of kids think that playing video games is exercise
This is a time where physical activity declines among the youth. They are so glued to their screens that they have little or no time to even get up walk look around and enjoy the world they live in.
This has let them to live a sedentary life. Hence it is of little wonder that it is found that higher screen time is associated with increased BMI and childhood obesity.
3. Kid’s do not get enough sleep
The importance of sleep cannot be emphasized in one or two words.
The recommended hours of sleep for a child aged 3-11 are about 10-13 hours.
There are not many studies conducted on the average sleep time a child gets today, but sleep researchers and the public have agreed to the fact that children are not sleeping enough.
According to a survey conducted by Junior Fine Bedding Company, 2064 parents of 2-11-year-olds have reported that their child does not have a regular bedtime.
Let me give your practical example:
It is not a rare sight to find a kid engaged in screen time activity such a watching television, browsing the internet on laptops, playing games on tabs, or watching YouTube on mobile phone.
And it has become a very common sight to hear parent is almost pleading with their children to go to sleep. Since it is way past their bedtime. The ritual to get them up from their seat and to put them in the bed is a Himalayan task most of the household go through almost every day. Also, always in most of the family this results in constant fights, tantrums, frustration, and disappointment.
Have you ever wondered how would it be possible for children to suddenly switch off their active brains and go to sleep in search conditions? Because just few minutes before they were forcefully sent to bed their eyes were wide open. They brain was having fireworks of visual input. And suddenly couple of minutes later they are expected to get into a peaceful and relaxed sleep.
Do you even think that this would be possible for us as adults let alone our children?
How screen addiction affects a child’s brain development
Increased Levels of Depression
More screen time means the child gets less time to spend outside.
A UK study commissioned by the National Trust found that children spend half the time playing outside than what their parents did at their age.
How many of us have left our homes just to get some good air, and have come feeling refreshed and relaxed? This is something that a screen cannot do.
A study by the UK government study has found that around 10% of their respondents have not been out for almost a year for an even a stroll outside in a natural environment such as a park, or beach.
When kids interact with nature it is proven to reduce stress, aggression, and improve focus.
This means the more they spend their time in front of a screen the lesser time they get to experience these natural mood enhancers.
In fact, more screen time does the opposite. Where nature calms and relaxes, too much screen time can increase stress levels and cause increased levels of depression.
Reduced amounts of focus can irritate them. Studies show that screen time consumes a vast amount of mental energy, this creates a craving for energy where it is quickly replaced by getting irritated.
Affects brain’s ability to concentrate or focus.
Children are under constant growth, as their brains are under development, exposure to screens can negatively impact it.
This is mainly emphasized in video games, it is found that increased screen time retards emotion processing, decision making, cognitive control, and the ability to focus one’s attention.
On the contrary studies has kids who regularly make it a habit to go outside and play have improved memory and classroom attention span increases by 20%.
This happens because during activity outdoors the child becomes more aware of its surrounding. When something catches the child’s interest the child starts to focus on that, and they pay attention to it.
E.g. a caterpillar climbing up a tree can not only amuse the kid but also while your child focuses to unravel the mystery it provides your child is also improving his/her attention span while learning. This can help a child to build their level of focus and attention without the child even realizing it.
Reduction of dream time.
We have all heard the detrimental effects of screens on a human’s sleeping pattern. The blue light that is illuminated from a screen can clamp down the hormone which induces sleep, known as “Melatonin”.
Lack of melatonin means less sleep for the child. This chronic destruction of your body’s sleep and wake cycle can cause some serious health concerns.
Even if the child gets to sleep it will not be the deep sleep that is needed to have a refreshing start to the day.
How kids fall prey to screen addiction
Like any addiction screen addiction also starts innocently with on off engagement with technology. Slowly the child tries to escape boredom pie engaging with technology and screen time increases.
The child starts to feel good and feel better thereby the pleasure increases for the child.
Games also increase the secretion of Dopamine, which makes us feel good or happy. As the dopamine secretion is increased, the brain gets more and more desensitized.
This will cause an increase in the threshold level of dopamine that is needed to make a child happy, thus forcing the child to play more and more until he/she becomes happy. There by pulling your kid into screen addiction.
Researches have also shown dopamine which is a hormone released to reward addiction, is released while playing games and internet usage.
This creates urges or cravings for more of these gratifications, which is compared to that of a drug addict’s brain.
Brain scans also prove that gaming and internet usage has similar or more rewards, like cocaine usage. The reason being both give more rewards with little effort, thus leading the brain to ask more of it.
Note and Tips to parents
All these things are kind of scary is not it?
So, what can you do to keep your family healthy in this era of technological advancement?
Some guidelines and tips
- We should try not to strap Infants to anything for more than one hour. This includes strollers, and highchairs or being strapped to an individual.
- It is also a good idea to read to a baby while the baby is still.
- Kids under 4 must be active at least 3 hours a day. This includes play, running, and walking.
- Infants under the age of 24 months should not have any screen time at all.
- For kids aged between 2-5, the screen time needs to be restricted to 1 hour a day. It is also important to monitor what they watch.
Few More Tips..
- Bringing up healthy children requires some sacrifice from our side. If possible disconnect your television set from your house.
- Try your best not to buy children any separate gadgets exclusively for your children. This will prevent them from having free access to technology any time they wish night or day.
- If you should and must give in to their request to use your mobile, following a schedule with fixed non-negotiable start and end time will help.
- It would be preferred that you give your children free time post daylight so that they can use the Daylight Time playing outside.
- To help children wind down and have a peaceful sleep schedule screen time before dinner. Have dinner at least 30 minutes prior to sleep time. This will help them to wind down slowly. Finish their dinner, have mild activities, and go to bed with soothing song or a bedtime story.
- Make the dinner table gadget free zone. A popular saying goes like this. “The family that eats together stays together”. This habit off no gadgets on the dinner table well not only help children enjoy their food but also give time for the family share and communicate with each other.
However, every household is different. You may not follow these guidelines to the exact point, but you can build upon a schedule that fits you based upon these guidelines.
Being consistent with a schedule will eventually build up healthy habit and less stressful environment.
Do remember that children observe adults and try to imitate whatever we do. So, it will be of little or no use if we do not follow the rules that we set for our children and at the same time expect them to be perfect. E.g. We declare the dinner table as gadget free zone, but we attend to a very important call while eating.
Screen addiction is harmful. Day by day children are falling prey to this addiction. Technology is claiming its victims very quickly and aggressively. To protect our children from falling prey to this we will have to work in as a family so that we stay protected, healthy, and happy as family we have always longed for.
We at the Yellow playschool understand this hence we have a strict NO SCREEN policy. We also ensure that more than 30% of the school time is spent on outdoor activities. This not only helps our kids make memories and have fun but also help them enjoy while learning.
We hope this blog has been helpful to you. Do share it with your friends and loved ones so together we can make the world a better place one step at a time.
Do let us know any further ideas that we can incorporate that can help parent who are battling screen addiction of their kids.