- As adults, we are able to understand the downsides of technology and know where to draw the line, but it can be more difficult to manage with children
- Excessive screentime has been shown to be linked to obesity, irregular sleep, emotional/social problems, and EMF exposure can play a role in their development
- It’s essential to take action now, and some ways include being accountable and having boundaries, leading by example, having no-phone zones, and reducing screentime gradually!
Do you remember the good ol’ days when you’d go outside for some fresh air or a picnic anytime you had free time? That’s all changed now – especially for the children of today. When they’re bored, their norm is playing a game on a device. Or turning on the TV to watch a show or Youtube. As adults, we know the downside of technology and can take a moment to step back. But for children who have been using screens for as long as they can remember, this might be all they know – and as they’re still developing, they’ll continue to want more screen-time for that hit of dopamine.
But why exactly is excessive screen-time bad for children? There is a host of research exploring the different impacts of prolonged technology usage. First off, using technology for long periods of time can have a negative impact on a child’s sleep quality and quantity. This is due to the EMF (Electro Magnetic Field) radiation emitted by your devices that have a huge impact on your hormone production. This irregular sleep schedule due to prolonged screen has also been linked to an increased risk of obesity – which can actually affect self-esteem and perception, potentially leading to further isolation and screen-time. Also, this heightened exposure to blue light from the devices can affect many infants and adolescents since they are still in the development stage, and maybe highly susceptible to such unfiltered light. Furthermore, researchers have seen effects on a child’s ability to interact with peers and be empathetic due to their lack of social skills. A study even found a link between increased screen time and the thinning of the brain’s cortex – which impairs their academic performance, attention, and ability to think creatively/outside the box.
Read here on why proximity could be playing a role. Thinking of traveling soon? read this blog to understand ways that transport could be damaging, and here to learn about how the outdoors can be damaging in terms of radiation exposure.
The recommended screen time according to the American Academy of Pediatrics is none for children under the age of 2, 1 hour per day for children between 2 and 12 years old, and 2 hours a day for teens. But there are ways to ensure your children’s screen-time is under control:
- Set boundaries: Make sure your kids know what their limits are and try to be as strict with them as possible
- Have phone free zones/times: Rules like no phones on the dining table or no phones before bed can prevent them from cultivating harmful habits
- Replace screen-time with real-time: The initial adjustment may be hard, but replacing screen-time with going outside or painting or reading a book can help fill the hole earlier on
- Lead by example: Make sure you also try to limit your screen time so they emulate the same!
It is important to keep in mind that technology has definitely changed our lives for the better too – so maintaining that healthy relationship is key. In the right amount, it can stimulate their brains, provide an outlet for their energy, and help develop cognitive skills. Plus, as a parent, it can give you time to work, finish up some chores, and practice self-care! Also – know that if your kids are already used to regular screen-time, the best way to reduce it is not to immediately stop it. For it to be sustainable, the best method is to be gradual and slow to cut down screen-time in the long run!
If you’re inspired to make a change, read this blog to learn about how you can practice digital wellness, here to learn about biohacking and here to read about EMF meters and how you can use them to gauge your exposure.
Updated: July 24th, 2023