How many hours does your child spend on the screen per day?
Studies have shown that the number of hours a child spends on the screen reflects so much in their behaviour, health, and social life. Some experts on the subject recommend that kids below two years of age should not be exposed to screens at all. On the other hand, those under six years of age should only have a maximum of two hours of screentime per day. Also, kids should not just watch or do just anything on the TV, iPad, computer or smartphone. They should have strict adult guidance when using these devices.
So, how does the screen time affect your child’s behaviour?
1. An aroused nervous system making falling asleep difficult.
Too much screentime for your child, (TV, computer, video games, tablets, etc.) especially right before their bedtime, puts their body into an unnatural state of arousal. The result is they find it difficult to fall asleep and when they eventually do fall asleep, it’s not the normal sleep pattern. Your child will not reach the most restful stage of sleep because his/her body is still unnaturally aroused. As a result, their body gets stressed and they react with a flight or fight response. They may then become hyperactive or unsettled because they are trying to deal with the unnatural arousal and a stressed body.
2. Slow responses due to sensory overload.
Have you experienced times when you call your child, but they take forever to respond or are completely spaced out? Well, that could be a sign of sensory overload. Excessive screentime takes all their attention. They see too much, hear too much and feel too much all at the same time and become unaware of their immediate surroundings.
3. Very minimal movement leading to obesity.
You might have witnessed how time lapses when watching a movie or playing a game on your computer. Your child might not notice how long they have been sitting on that couch watching or playing a game. The only thing that will make them move is if they feel hungry or need to go to the loo. The result is an increase in body weight and eventually, obesity because, unlike adults, kids don’t know how to compensate the time spent seated and eating with few hours of physical activity.
4. Aggressiveness and fear
All these result from exposure to violent movies or videos. If you fail to monitor what your child is watching, they could end up watching adult content that may affect them negatively. It is not easy for children to tell the difference between acting and real life situations. They will tend to pick up whatever they see and without filtering, apply it in real life without realising or understanding the consequences.
5. Risky behaviours such as drinking and smoking
You might not be drinking nor smoking, but your kid has a high probability of picking up such behaviours from the screen if you are not there to monitor what they are watching and also explain it to them. Children just aren’t mature enough to understand the consequences or effects of these sorts of habitual acts and might think it’s ok because the actors are doing it.