Nowadays, the majority of children spend more and more time in front of digital screens. Most of them at least once touched and looked into a cell phone, a computer, tablet or TV etc. Do these new habits impact their brain?
Who has not seen a child using digital technology at least once? Today, in the 21st century, we can say: nobody. Indeed these electronic devices play a huge role in the lives of children. As tools for learning and leisure, the question we must ask is what effect it has on their brain?
Electronic devices and media, double-edged inventions
Scientific research proves that spending too much time in front of screens may have adverse effects on children. Certainly, digital media offer children many advantages such as learning applications, movies in different languages to learn the language, games that exercise memory and cognitive abilities etc. But these benefits can affect the mental health of children.
The digital revolution has made the use of digital devices common to all ages. However, excessive use can be a danger to the child’s brain that is not fully formed and make it vulnerable to possible side effects.
So parents and teachers need to be vigilant when they educate and entertain children through these devices, especially the young ones. It is very important to think about the disastrous consequences for the child above all else.
A Canadian study concluded that a child from 2 to 4 years of age should not be exposed to digital devices , one hour is allowed after 4 years, but no more than two hours a day. Today, children spend double or triple than the recommended time in front of screens of these devices.
According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, children between 8 and 18 spend on average more than 7 hours a day in front of digital media. Many psychologists believe that spending too much time in front of screens affects the development of the brain including the concentration and social skills.
It has been proven that spending a lot of screen time causes real changes in the brain. But the problem is even more important and serious when it comes to young children. In fact, their brains are still developing and they may have trouble differentiating the real and the virtual world.
More time spent in front of a screen means less time in nature
Unreal replaces real! Spending too much time on digital devices slows cognitive development of children. It is for this reason that young children have very limited ability to concentrate and great difficult to perform simple tasks.
Also when children are in front of their devices, they are detached from the real world around them which prevents them from doing other activities such as physical activity, sensory, motor, educational etc. In addition to affecting their concentration span, it can lead to cognitive impairment (memory, attention, perception, solving tasks …) and eating disorders (childhood obesity…).
Several scientific evidences prove the benefits of outdoor activity on the body and mind while exposure to electronic devices produces the opposite effect.
How much time a child can spend in front of a screen without having negative impact on its health?
Although there is no perfect formula on which all experts agree, it is possible to define guidelines. The American Pediatric Academy has recently updated its recommendations and recommended more focus on how children should spend their screen time.
Finding the right balance!
There is still no consensus on the time a child should spend in front of a screen. Nevertheless, the American Pediatric Academy suggests a close look at each child and how he spends time in front of a digital screen and monitor adverse effects. Today, in our society, digital media are ubiquitous. Therefore, it is essential to monitor the behavior of children and ensure that their screen time is balanced with other physical or social activities.
References: naturalblaze.com, psychologytoday.com, screenfree.org