As the world of technology continues to advance, it’s becoming harder and harder to get your little ones to turn away from those tiny screens. An online publication shares that 56 percent of children between the ages of 10 to 13 own a smartphone. If that number wasn’t enough of a shock, it is also estimated that 25 percent of children between the ages of two and five have a smartphone.
Watching a show or playing an online game after a long day of school or over the weekend is a nice break to relax and unwind, but how much screen time is too much? Here’s how increased cell phone and technology use can negatively affect children’s learning and development.
Harm from radiation has been a topic of concern for a long time. While many professionals claim cell phones do not give off enough radiation to cause harm, the radio frequencies emitted by smartphones might affect a child’s developing brain.
PsychCentral shares, “The temporal and frontal lobes of the brain are still developing in a teen and they are closest to the part of the ear where teens tend to hold their device. Research has shown that both the temporal and frontal are actively developing during adolescence and are instrumental in aspects of advanced cognitive functioning.”
You can avoid excess exposure by removing all devices from your kid’s room while they sleep. Cell phones release electromagnetic radiation whenever they're on - which means sleeping with one nearby boosts your exposure all night long. Rather than playing phone games before bed, have your kids read a book until they get tired.
Being cooped up inside all day takes kids away from all the adventure and exploring the outdoors have to offer. When a child is staring at a screen they tend to block out the physical environment surrounding them, which can lead to a lack of interest in sports, adventure, and other outdoor activities that can help with cognitive skills and child development.
Encourage your kids to spend more time outside as much as possible. Go to the park, take your dog for a walk, or set up a game of soccer with the neighborhood kids so everyone can join in on the fun!
One of the primary ways children gain knowledge and learn is through face-to-face interactions with their families. They can learn how to have a conversation, how to read people’s facial expressions, and learn about their own emotions and how to regulate them just by watching and communicating with their parents and siblings.
Effective communication skills are important for every aspect of life, and touch-screen technology takes away the need for face-to-face communication.
Make one-on-one time a priority with your kids. Set aside all technology during meals so you have time to catch up and communicate with one another every day. Weekly game nights are another great way to get your brains moving and have fun at the same time.
When children become attached to cell phones and tablets, they don’t know how to self-occupy or entertain themselves without their devices, which can lead to disengaged conversations, tantrums, and missing out on broader life context, experiences, and knowledge.
The more they rely on electronics to communicate and entertain themselves, they risk weakening their social skills and becoming detached from those around them.
Make touchscreen devices a treat rather than a necessity. Limit your kid's cell phone use to half an hour a day and encourage them to take interest in other activities. When they do have time on their devices it’s something to look forward to, not something that’s expected.
A smartphone app may provide entertainment for your kiddos and some temporary relief for busy parents, but it can’t replace real social conversations, emotional connections, or the need for physical activity that help developing kids to thrive. By limiting your kid's screen time, you’ll show them everything to do, see, and create that technology can’t offer them.