By: Sarah VonBerge
It is highly debatable whether or not children should be allowed to use iPads, or other screens, for extended periods of time. Because the National Institutes of Health (NIH) did a study, people are now able to look further into the effect electronics have on young kids. It has been shown that screens stunt children’s development by narrowing their focus, interest, and limiting their other means of exploration and learning.
Exploring the outdoors, playing with toys, and playing with other children help them form their imagination and important social skills.
Development happens the most in the first 3 years of their lives and many skills are created by watching the adults around them. If they are looking at a screen, they are not able to take in the world around them. It’s been shown that children under 2 learn more watching someone else teach them as compared to watching a video.
Exaggerated tones and faces help them learn how others around them are feeling or talking to them, without these exaggerations, they are not always able to take in the needed information. Screens and video games cause them to miss out on valuable caregiver interactions that regulate emotions.
Excessive screen time doesn’t just affect emotions and communication, it’s been shown to actually completely change how the brain is formed. It’s been shown that kids who spend more than 7 hours a day on a screen experienced thinning of the brain’s cortex, which is the area related to critical thinking and reasoning.
Kids who spend 2 hours a day on a screen have also been shown to score lower on thinking and language tests. Along with this, it was found that kids who spent more than 2 hours watching TV a day were 64% less likely to get the recommended 10 hours of sleep as compared to kids who spend 30 minutes or less.
5 year olds who spent 2+ hours on screens were 5 times more likely to show symptoms of ADHD compared to children who spent 30 min or less. Although it does not cause ADHD, they’ve been known to be more hyperactive, which is a common symptom in ADHD.
Screen time can trigger the release of dopamine, which is ‘the happy’ neurotransmitter. When you are doing or seeing something that is releasing dopamine, you will not want to get off the screen. Because of this, many children have difficulty putting a screen down, which often results in frustration, anger and/or a complete shut down.
Although it is not completely detrimental to give kids screen time, their time needs to be limited.
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