Parents Beware! Screen Time Dangers

Why should you be concerned?  There are lots of reasons.  Let’s look at a few:

More screen time = less physical activity, less social interaction, less time with family members, less real world problem solving, brain atrophy, increased risk for depression and a reduced ability to learn (among other problems).  For more specifics, please check out Psychology Today’s article about this here.

Devices can reduce your child’s ability to learn.  Really?  Check out this article to learn more.

Did you know that electronics use can change your child’s brain structure?  In the oh so distant past of the 1970’s and 1980’s, children’s television shows were slow paced.  Today, much like games and interactive “educational” apps on devices, television shows are incredibly fast-paced.  Fast paced TV shows and hours of electronic games teach children to expect immediate gratification; this might explain why it seems children are less patient and more entitled nowadays.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting television for children and recommends no television exposure for children under age 2.  Check out their article here.  Please visit Business Insider here for an interesting article about screen time.

Children’s brain development takes years.  The prefrontal cortex, commonly referred to as the “judgment center” of the brain, doesn’t finish developing until age 25.  Here is an article from the University of Rochester Medical Center that provides a great explanation of the teen brain and why they make those crazy decisions.  What does this have to do with screen time?  In simple terms – DON’T put a TV or game system in your kid’s room.  Do Not Do It.  They don’t have self-control and if they have a TV, computer, smart phone or tablet in their room it is a recipe for disaster.  This puts them at greater risk for targeting by internet predators at worst and at the very least they won’t be getting a good night’s sleep anytime they are allowed to stimulate their brains by watching a bright, stimulating screen.

Television and other types of screen time should be monitored by parents.  Homework done on a computer or tablet should be done in family common areas, and TVs, tablets, phones and game consoles should be in family common areas so that parents can supervise what their children are doing and what is being done to them.  Having your kiddo watch a show or play a video game so you can clean the kitchen or catch up on laundry is understandable, but don’t make a habit of it.  Kids and teens spend on average from 2 to 8 hours a day in front of a screen, according to CNN and the BBC.  If your kid is spending hours in front of a screen on a daily basis, that can spell trouble. Basically, if you’re taking the shortcut of letting a screen babysit your child every day, you’re abdicating one of the most important responsibilities you have as a parent and you are putting your child at risk.

This article is not meant to provide clinical, therapeutic or legal advice.  This is not a substitute for professional therapeutic help.  If you’re in need of professional help, please contact a professional.  This is offered as educational information only.