If you are raising kids or taking care of grandkids in the 21st century, you already know that the childhood they are experiencing is far different from your own. Due to the ever presence of smartphones, computers, tablets, and other handheld devices, most children spend a lot of time staring at a screen. When is enough technology enough? How much time is too much? Read on, and you will know.
Overuse of media technology may cause brain damage in kids
Screen media has a decided influence on the way a kid’s brain processes information. In fact, many well-intentioned parents who allow too much screen time may be doing damage to their children’s development without even knowing it, explain occupational therapists at Hands On OT.
The electromagnetic radiation emitted by digital screens not only contributes to developmental delays, it can also have a radical effect on mood, no matter how young or old the user.
A healthful spectrum of sunlight is crucial to human health
Natural sunlight offers a full spectrum of color with just a little bit more blue than other colors. This natural, blue-tinged light boosts attention, shortens reaction time, and lifts the human mood. Natural sunlight suppresses melatonin in the brain and makes it easier for kids -and adults- to stay alert during daylight hours.
LED screens also produce blue light-rays. When kids use computer devices after dark, the sunlight-mimicking artificial rays inhibit melatonin and may contribute to sleeplessness and make it more difficult to wake in the morning.
So, what’s a parent to do? Limit your kid’s exposure to screens, but do so in a way that seems like fun to them. Don’t take away your kid’s screen in anger, but do take it away while encouraging them to enjoy outdoor activities and other non-computer pursuits. When you do allow them an hour of video entertainment, let them play their video games outdoors where they can get some sunlight in their eyes. To save on electricity costs, you can try these to power GameBoys and other devices.
What the experts say about kids and screens
Written in 1999 and reaffirmed since that time, the official policy of the American Academy of Pediatrics clearly states that no human child under the age of 18 months should have any access to computers, tablets, cell phones, or computer screens. The only exception to this rule is occasional video conferencing with far-away relatives, and even that time should be limited.
Between the ages of 2 and five, screen time should be limited to fewer than 60 minutes per day. The AAP reminds parents and grandparents that screen media provides little if any educational value before a child is two years old and even then, most of the learning accomplished during a screen session comes from adult interaction, not the device or app thereon.
Computer screens are a fact of life for most family members. Offer little ones plenty of other opportunities, and remember to moderate computer time for healthier, happier kids.