10 Reasons Why You Should Limit Your Child’s Screen Time (Part III)

If you haven’t read Part I and Part II of this series, I invite you to go over those articles before jumping on this one.

6.Physical and Developmental Issues

As we all know, screen time is a primarily sedentary in nature. Our kids are sitting down or lying around while using their electronic devices.
The time our children spend without physical activity while on their electronic devices  adds on to their already high number of hours they spend sitting inside the school. All this time without physical activity, inevitably leads to weight gain, poor muscle development, and many other physical issues. Lack of physical movement not only affects our children’s physical development, but it also negatively impacts brain development, as it is needed to form brain connections necessary for physical coordination.
Additionally, the use of screens might delay a child’s ability to form words. A recent study presented by the American Association of Pediatrics argues that for each 30-minute increase in handheld screen time, there’s a 49 percent increased risk of expressive speech delay. As we all know, when kids can’t express themselves properly they get really frustrated, which causes them to act out more and to use their bodies to try to communicate with us, and to use destructive attention-seeking behaviors.

7. Dangerous EMF Exposure

One growing area of concern is the fact that our brains (and especially our children’s) may be harmed by overexposure to electronic devices. While EMF (electromagnetic fields) exposure in smaller doses doesn’t seem to be a concern over short periods of time, the more frequent and intense the exposure the more problems arise. This is especially true for children, as their brains are rapidly growing and changing from birth through adolescence.

Children who use devices close to their heads for longer periods of time have potentially a higher risk to the damaging effects of EMF exposure.

8. Disconnected Families

We can’t deny that technology makes family organization and calendar management much easier. It also allows us to immediately communicate with our children and spouses, via text, email, whatsup… It allows us to connect with family and friends that might live far away from us, via Skype, whatsup, google chat…

However, in our busy lives, finding good quality time to connect with our children is very difficult. Allowing technology to cut into those precious moments is something we might try to avoid . Excessive screen time also leads to an increase in serious parent-child conflicts.

While it can be fun to have a family movie night or play a video game together, we should not resort to that as an every day activity. The reality is that screen time means less face-to-face, natural interactions with our children.

I will continue addressing the 10 main reasons why we should control our children’s technology use in the next few days. Stay posted!

Much love, Diana-

10 Reasons Why You Should Limit Your Child’s Screen Time (Part II)

If you haven’t read Part I of this series, I invite you to go over that article before jumping on this one.

4. Decreased Academic Performance

Regular use of electronics can overstimulate and cause chronically high arousal levels in our children. This hyperarousal affects our children’s memory and ability to make associations, which leads academic struggles. Increased time on electronic devices is therefore associated with poorer academic outcomes.

The more time children spend using digital devices, the less time they spend reading. Reading strengthens brains connections and builds new ones, and helps them improve their attention and focus. Children who are good readers tend to achieve better understanding of academic concepts and therefore better grades.

Many schools are moving to computerized instruction, and our children are now spending a remarkable amount of time in front of their computers or tablets during school hours. I was surprised to learn that my daughters spend upwards of 3.5 hours in front of a screen during their school days. I am not sure how this digital instruction is improving our children’s education; and there’s no strong strong research evidence to support that this is beneficial for students or supportive for their learning. However, it is a reality that we have to live with, and we must take into account their electronics exposure in school as we set limits for electronics use at home.

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5. Poor Executive Functioning

Early brain development is determined by our children’s environmental stimuli or lack thereof. When most of the stimulation our kids receive comes from exposure to technologies (TV, computer, phones, iPads…) their executive functioning, attention, working memory, impulse control, delay gratification and ability to self-regulate are severely compromised.

Research has also shown that higher level cognitive skills such as critical thinking, reflection, self-awareness, creativity and imagination may get reduced as a result of excessive digital use.

When our children spend time flipping from one game, online activity, YouTube video, tv show… to the next develop a higher threshold for stimulation. They therefore tend to become more easily bored with normal tasks that are not fast-paced and constantly stimulating.

Children also tend to focus on immediate and instant gratification, and struggle to make decisions based on any factors beyond their immediate wants in needs. Inevitably, this leads them to develop lower frustration tolerance, a tendency to give up on tasks, an impulse to get away from situation that are not of their liking, a lack of persevering in an activity before just moving on to the next thing, and zero problem solving skills.

I will continue addressing the 10 main reasons why we should control our children’s technology use in the next few days. Stay posted!

Much love, Diana-

 

10 Reasons Why You Should Limit Your Child’s Screen Time (Part I)

Since my May Parenting Resolution is to get the use of electronics under control, I figure I would start by explaining why I believe it’s an important thing to do, and why May is the perfect month to get this started.

There is no question about how the advancements in technology have brought numerous benefits to our daily lives. We can coordinate family calendars, connect with friends and family who are miles away, easily control our finances, buy almost anything from the comfort of our own home, have access to information 24×7…

However, as new technology evolves and transforms, many studies are finding strong links between screen time and a variety of behavior problems in children. Those studies don’t necessarily prove causation, just correlation. Despite the inconclusiveness of recent studies, I believe it’s paying attention to them.

1. Unhealthy Sleep

Electronic stimulation, such as that from watching TV, using the computer, playing video games, using the iPad… has been shown to interfere with sleep, both falling asleep and staying asleep. Using electronic devices before bedtime can be physiologically and psychologically stimulating in ways that can negatively impact your sleep.

When our children (and us) use electronic devices right before bed, the artificial blue light that these devices emit interferes with their circadian rhythm (a.k.a. their body’s internal clock). This suppresses the release of melatonin (sleep-inducing hormone), which makes it more difficult for them to fall asleep. Using these devices right before bedtime, also delays the onset of REM sleep (deep and restorative sleep). All this adds up to chronic sleep deprivation and poor sleep habits.

Once the body clock is disrupted, all sorts of other unhealthy reactions occur, such as hormone imbalance and brain inflammation, which can lead to serious health issues down the road.

2. Poor Social and Relational Skills

Research shows that an excessive use of technology can create social disconnection, negatively impact the development of social and relational skills, diminish our children’s understanding of how to engage with others and read non-verbal cues.
In a recent UCLA study they observed that kids who were deprived of screens for five days got much better at reading people’s emotions than kids who continued their normal screen-filled lives. Decreased sensitivity to emotional cues is one of the costs – understanding the emotions of other people. The displacement of in-person social interaction by screen interaction seems to be reducing social skills
Kids with phones and tablets, with smartphones and headphones. Group of teenage girls is using gadgets.

3. Increased Aggressive and Defiant Behavior

According to Psychology Today, what’s often behind explosive and aggressive behavior is poor focus. When attention suffers, so does the ability to process one’s internal and external environment, so little demands become big ones. You may have seen your child having a complete overreaction and utter agitation to a simple request.

Electronic use creates hyperarousal in our children. The constant firing of neural pathways created by this hyperarousal suppresses the function of the brain’s area that regulates their mood. Our children become angrier, and meltdowns and tantrums actually become their go-to coping mechanism.

In addition, children who are exposed to violent online content (videos games, TV shows, and movies) tend to have more aggressive behaviors and reduced moral development.

 

I will continue addressing the 10 main reasons why we should control our children’s technology use in the next few days. Stay posted!

Much love, Diana-

 

May Parenting Resolution: Electronics’ Control

I believe taking control of the use of electronics in our house is vital, especially right before our children are off from school and will have more free time. I’m not saying we shouldn’t use electronics, but I believe in being conscious and intentional with our use of electronics. There are many ways we can use our iPads, iPhones, TVs…  as a way to connect with our children.

This month, we will focus on creating healthy habits around the use of electronics, both for our kids and for ourselves.

Are your kids ‘addicted’ to electronics? How do you keep it under control?

Much love, Diana-