There is no denying that an individual’s screen time has increased exponentially in the past decade.
The millennial kids have grown up amidst a vast array of screens at their fingertips. They can’t imagine a world without smartphones, tablets, and the internet. The advances in technology mean today’s parents are the first generation who have to figure out how to limit screen time for children.
While digital devices can provide endless hours of entertainment and they can offer educational content, unlimited screen time can be harmful.
Bands of blue light may be harmful to the light-sensitive retina of the eye over time. Staring into a screen for extended periods of time can cause “computer vision syndrome.” Symptoms include strain, dry eyes, blurred vision, and headaches. Poor posture can also cause neck and shoulder pain.
Increasing levels of myopia, or short-sightedness, and increased indoor time may be to blame. Lack of exposure to sunlight and reduced exposure to natural green which might be important for proper eye development.
Too much time engaging in sedentary activity, such as watching TV and playing video games, can be a risk factor. Even two hours of TV a day can increase the risk of weight gain, diabetes, higher cholesterol & blood pressure and heart disease due to less active time, less sleep, seeing more ads for unhealthy foods and bad eating habits; not just in adults, in kids too.
The blue light suppresses the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin and alters our body’s circadian rhythm (internal body clock), also called our sleep/wake cycle. Hence using TV to wind down before bed, heavy computer and mobile phone use can backfire. The light emitted from screens can cause insomnia, altered sleep pattern, more likelihood of lying awake for an hour or more before finally falling asleep, shorter, lower-quality sleep and delays in bedtime. Sleep disruption can be especially problematic for children, leading to daytime drowsiness and poor performance at school, weight gain and obesity-related health problems.
Behavior and Addiction:
Children who watch TV or use a computer more than two hours per day are more likely to have emotional, social & attention problems, more likely for risky behaviors like drinking and driving. Playing video games hikes up dopamine in brain that is linked to cravings for drugs and gambling, similarly for social media, every time we see a new post or get a reaction to ours, it’s like a hit of brain candy. Exposure to violent TV shows, movies, music, and video games can cause children to become desensitized to it. Eventually, they may use violence to solve problems and may imitate screen behaviors.
Educational problems, Language & cognitive function:
Kids and young adults are likely to suffer from attention disorders, affects learning, worsen in academics, takes away from unstructured play time, which is important for learning and problem solving. TV can hamper language development in kids by displacing time spent interacting with caregivers. Digital devices might have a similar effect. Cognitive imaging studies have found that spending too much screen time will lead less efficient information processing.
Self-confidence , Emotions and personality:
Less time exploring and creating own experiences, stories, or art can lead to lack of face-to-face interaction and hamper healthy relationships and overall mental well-being.
Internet addiction and game addiction can shrink the brain regions responsible for planning and executive functions, empathy, compassion, and impulse control, higher chance of psychological difficulties, more aggression and less sensitivity to others.
Relationship with Your Child:
Children feel unimportant when their parents look at their smartphones during meals or when playing together. Frequent looking at your digital devices could increase your child’s chances of developing mental health problems, like depression. Giving your child interrupted care by repeatedly checking your smartphone, could also affect his development and mental health. Using digital devices as “shut-up” toys to occupy kids during day-to-day tasks like grocery shopping or eating out might prevent them from learning how to regulate boredom, distress, and other impulses and emotions.
Chronic neck and back pain:
Poor posture when using screens can cause chronic neck, shoulder, and back pain.