There is no doubt that technology and gadgets prove to be wonderful resources for a child’s development, but can you go too far? Academics from Oxford and Cardiff universities put forward the ‘Goldilocks theory’ suggesting that a certain level of screen time can be beneficial for children. However, with UK children aged 5-16 years averaging 6.3 hours of screen time per day this can be up to 3 times as much as the recommended usage and lead to detrimental effects. This impacts of too much screen time include:
- Social, emotional, and behavioural development:
Kids on their screens are missing opportunities to interact with their parents, other adults, and other children. Studies have shown that children who spend more than the recommended amount of time on their screens are more likely to demonstrate hyperactive and inattentive behaviour, act impulsively, and make poorer decisions.
- Weight issues
Being in front of a screen means your child isn't moving. It may also mean that they're exposed to food advertising and increased snacking while watching TV.
- Sleep issues
The AAP warns against keeping screens in kids' bedrooms, noting that even small screens like phones and tablets have been linked to poor sleep quality.
- Unhealthy habits
One study found that the more time 4-year-olds spent watching TV, the more difficulty they had taking breaks from screens when they were 6.
But, even just slightly slimming your child’s usage to the recommended amount for their age (see here) can bring great benefits! For instance:
- It Inspires Creativity – Time away from the screen encourages exploration and activates a child’s curiosity and creativity through imagination.
- It Builds Confidence – Giving children the freedom to create their own games and explore the world fosters a confidence-building sense of power and independence. Children will be more likely to socialize in person with other kids, building confidence to make new friends.
- It Teaches Responsibility – Especially in the summer months when playing outside, this inspires an appreciation for nature and living things. Those who spend more time in nature are more likely to appreciate and care for the planet as they grow older.
- It Keeps Children Active – A more fun type of exercise is involved through play, where children run, jump, dance, throw balls and even ride bikes! These are all fun ways or children to move their bodies and stay healthy.
- It Improves Physical And Mental Health - Exposure to sunshine and time outdoors helps children's bodied produce Vitamin D, which is important for the immune system and bone development.
- It Reduces Stress – Fresh air and green spaces create a natural calming effect in the body. Outdoor play promotes beneficial “feel-good” hormones like oxytocin and serotonin.