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
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-