Researchers have debated the impact of screen time on children for decades. It’s a debate that has only increased as video games, computers, smartphone and tablets have been added to the attraction of watching television.
The truth is, no one can precisely quantify the extent of the harm. However, violent images and large amounts of time in front of a screen can have a negative impact, according to the American Academy Pediatrics (AAP).
It’s an issue of increasing importance to parents as children have more technological gadgets than ever. Connection to the internet offers children a great opportunity for learning. But it also presents dangers to young minds.
It’s an issue that those who want to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Children’s Learning and Development will certainly address both in their academic and professional careers. The following are some of the issues around children and screen time.
Violence and Aggression
A review of 400 studies done on viewing violence on television and playing violent video games “found a significant association between exposure to media violence and aggressive behavior, aggressive thoughts, angry feelings and physiological arousal,” according to the AAP. Those results increased somewhat with children who played violent video games when compared to those who passively watch violence on television.
In an issue associated with violence, the AAP noted that entertainment often glamorizes the use of weapons. The AAP recommended that both lawmakers and pediatricians advocate for more “child-positive” media. They also recommend that “violence for laughs and gratuitous violence should be eliminated.”
It’s Not All Bad
With all the warnings out there, it’s tempting for parents to simply shut out children from using technology. But, clearly, there are positive uses for both the television and the internet. Many shows, particularly on public broadcasting, are geared to educate children. And using Facebook or Skype to communicate with distant relatives or friends can be a good experience. The internet also has many sites that provide valuable information and learning tools for children and teens.
Ban From Bedrooms
One idea worth considering is banning screens from bedrooms. The light emitted by screens and the stimulation to the brain can both keep kids up late and get them up early, undermining good sleeping patterns.
Wait On The Smartphone
More children are now spending time with small screens rather than computers and televisions. Some parents have banded together to pledge not to give their kids a cell phone until they finish middle school. The concern is that smartphones can prove especially addictive to young minds and may even slow their development in some areas, according to National Public Radio.
It’s Not Just Kids
Parents should watch their own screen time, as well. Distracted by screens, parents might spend less time interacting with children, which is not a positive approach. Parents might also consider the bedroom ban of electronics and planning “together time” during which electronics are turned off and everyone interacts with one another, rather than a screen.
Monitoring screen time for children is a tough job and a complicated issue. Parents would do well to find the latest research on the issue - as should those interested in earning a degree in a child development field.