10 Impact of Excessive Screen Time on Your Child's Mental Health

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10 Impact of Excessive Screen Time on Your Child's Mental Health

In today’s digitised world, where we constantly talk about environment-friendly, paperless tasks in the office, digital payments, hybrid modes of offices, and online education, it is widespread that we are using electronic items excessively. It would not be wrong to call these gadgets a necessity now more than just a luxury! However, with comfort and ease of connectivity come the adverse effects of excessive screen time on eyes, brain, and mental health. 

Children are small packets with big energy, utter curiosity, and endless questions. The onus to direct their energies in the right way depends mostly on the parents. Many times, parents or guardians who are busy with their work or household chores may enjoy a sigh of relief while their child is engaged in an iPad/ tab or phone. 

However, this seemingly harmless habit may be the start of the child’s mental or physical health damage due to uncontrolled excessive screen time usage. This is a serious concern that needs to be addressed by every parent so that their child can grow into a healthy human with a stable mind. This article talks about the effects of excessive screen time on child development and the measures that parents can take to decrease the same. 

What does too Much Screen Time Do to Children’s Brains? 

You may have read, heard, and discussed many instances and information pieces on the adverse effects of excessive screen time on child development. However, it is very important to understand what these effects are in real-time and whether are they really so bad that your child can suffer to a great extent.

As per most paediatrics around the world, excessive usage of mobile phones, tablets, or laptops can cause delayed development in young children and anxiety symptoms in adolescent users. Concerning many types of research that were done in this field, it was found that a one-year-old child who was exposed to four hours of screen time every day showed a delay in problem-solving and communication activities at later ages. Moreover, a screen time of 4+ hours for a toddler was found to be affecting his fine motor skills as well as causing a delay in the development of his social and personal skills at early ages. The impact of excessive screen time on mental health, therefore, is immense. 

Digging deeper into the effects of excessive screen time on brain development, we will find that the National Institute of Health (NIH) has appointed a special research team on this issue who found out that young children who were habituated to exposure to the screen for an average of 2 hours were found weak in language and thinking abilities in comparison to others of the same age. The children who were exposed to the same for an average of seven hours had low critical thinking and reasoning abilities due to the thinning of the brain’s cortex. It can be concluded that there are negative effects of excessive screen time on brain development. 

How much is too much?

So are the gadgets a big no for our younger ones? How do you know how much is too much? Following are the guidelines listed by the Indian Academy of Pediatrics and also published by UNICEF to reduce the impact of excessive screen time for kids:

  1. Apart from the periodic video chats from relatives, children below the age of 2 years should not be exposed to any type of screen. 
  2. For babies that are between the age group of 1 to 5, the screen time should be limited to a maximum of 1 hour. 
  3. For children above the age of 5 and adolescents, it is recommended that the screen time be a maximum of 2 hours. Exceptions can be made in the case of online classes; however, the fewer, the better!

Experts also mention that a mix of all activities like proper sleep hours, balanced meals, positive surroundings, and following the above-mentioned guidelines can reduce the consequences of excessive screen time on kids. In essence, balancing screen time is key for every child's healthy development in the digital age.

Consequences of Excessive Screen Time 

Anything more than the recommended level is considered excessive screen time can be a reason for headaches, blurry vision, and social anxiety. However, there are many more symptoms which is a result of excessive screen time and can be the root cause of many lifestyle diseases in the later stages of life, like thyroid, PCOD, and sleep paralysis.

Given below are some of the most common problems that can be linked with too much screen time. Simply put, here are 10 reasons why screen time is bad. 

  • Obesity
  • Irregular/ disturbed sleep
  • Social anxiety 
  • Behavioural problems
  • Sudden emotional breakdowns
  • Poor academic performance 
  • Violent behaviour 
  • Stubbornness or rebellious behaviour 
  • Lack of creativity 
  • Vision-related problems

How to Decrease Screen Time? 

As parents, you may have often explained to your child why is screen time bad. However, learning about the above-mentioned problems that can originate from excessive screen time can be scary. Everyone can suffer the impact of too much screen time on the brain, especially kids. 

So, is there no way to reverse this habit? Can parents do something to correct this addictive habit? The answer is Yes! Dig deep to know how to reduce the ill effects of excessive screen time on neurodevelopment:

Eliminate the Background Devices

If you are indulging in some work along with your child and you are not actively watching the program running on a screen, make sure to switch it off. Background noises might not affect you more, but your child will be losing focus in this process. 

Make Sure to Spare Regular Playtime with Children 

Children require attention and regular playtime with their loved ones, which indeed helps them develop social skills and cognitive skills

Keep Electronic Gadgets out of Your Bedroom

Make sure to keep your TV, laptops, tablets, or phones out of your bedroom as this helps avoid excessive screen time and especially helps children have a sound sleep without any disturbances. 

Avoid Eating in Front of an Electronic Device

Eating meals while watching TV has become a common practice today. Nevertheless, it's crucial to discontinue this habit as it significantly impairs children's ability to concentrate. It can also promote mindless munching and can lead to obesity. Instead, promote at least one family meal per day to help the child develop his social skills. 

Watch out for What Your kid is Watching

It can be highly difficult to immediately start acting on all the above-stated points. However, while slowly acting on them, you also need to watch out for what the children are actually into. Try checking all the websites/videos they visited or sitting with them to find out the concept of the shows they watch every day. Emphasise promoting digital tools that help in creativity and critical thinking for your kids. 

Take Away!

Monitoring and managing screen time in children is crucial for their overall well-being. Limiting excessive exposure to screens, including TVs, computers, tablets, and smartphones, is recommended by health experts. For older children, setting consistent limits and encouraging balanced activities beyond screens is essential for healthy development.

Also, keep in mind that when it comes to habits, typically, children are the reflection of the older ones at home. Often, all they crave is attention, love and care. Giving them access to a screen can give you more time for yourself, but it cannot be a long-term answer. Children are habituated to imitating their parents and learn a lot from whatever their parents do or say. Blaming them for excessive screen time usage and not finding a workable solution is the wrong approach. As parents, you first need to cut back your screen time at home! 

One such mindful decision is investing in a reliable health insurance plan. By doing this, you not only prioritise your and your family’s physical well-being but also safeguard your financial future. Care Health Insurance stands as a trustworthy partner, offering peace of mind and the assurance that, no matter what lies ahead, you and your loved ones are protected.

>> Also Read: How to Buy the Best Health Insurance for Children?

Disclaimers: The above information is for reference purposes only. Kindly consult your general physician for verified medical advice. The health insurance benefits are subject to policy terms and conditions. Refer to your policy documents for more information.

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