By Koshys Hospital | Blog | Healthcare | 19 March 2019

19 Mar: IS TOO MUCH SCREEN TIME HARMING YOUR CHILD?

Ninety eight per cent of the brain develops in the first five years. Parents and educators can create brain compatible environments to support this growth. Read about how to enhance brain growth in your child.

The most important period of life is not the age of university studies but the period from birth to the age six.

The solution according to experts is to reset the brain. Get your child moving jump, swing, and run around. The vestibular system is in charge of motion so these kinds of linear acceleration activities will reset the vestibular system and calm the entire body.

Learning in toddlers can be damaged by technology but sadly we cannot keep technology away from our toddlers as they are born in a ‘tech bubble’, so I urge parents and teachers to do the following so that learning and brain growth are not affected in toddlers:

1. Do not give hand held screens to children below the age of 2 years. Because the young brain is developing at a fast rate during these years and you are actually ‘killing’ neurons with screen exposure. If you are unable to do it then put the screen on airplane mode so that the harmful microwaves emanating from them don’t harm your child. Limit to two 15 minute slots per day.

2. Ensure that the content is non-violent and pro social. Maximum discipline issues happen when kids watch violent or abusive content, and since children learn by imitation they mimic these in their behavior.

3. Be with your child during the screen viewing time and chat with your child during the show. This is because face to face conversations are a must in the early years to build the foundation of social skills, television is a one way process and so children don’t learn important social skills like waiting for the other person to speak.

4. Absolutely no screen time 3 hours before bedtime. The excessive blue light emanating from screens affects melatonin production thus reducing sleep in young babies and toddlers and making them cranky and unfocussed all the time. Sleep disruption also affects growth hormone.

5. Avoid any kind of technology during meal time; meal time is a sensory process that starts with the taste in the mouth and the process of seeing different colors on the plate and feeling the same in the mouth. When children are hooked on a screen during meal time they lose out on the sensory experience that aids the release of digestive juices and may chew less or eat more leading to digestive and obesity issues.

6. After playing with handheld screens ensure that your child is engaged in some sort of high physical activity like jumping, skipping etc. so that the extremely high focus reached by the brain during screen time is clamed down to avoid tantrums and a feeling of suddenly being bereft of stimulation. Ensure that babies and toddlers get at least 3 hours of physical play /outdoors play time.

7. Children are great imitators and if they see you addicted to screens then they will follow in your footsteps. When interacting with your child do not have screens as the third party! Can you ask a child to keep away from sugar while you are merrily chomping on a bar of chocolate?

8. Never use screens as a pacifier to calm them during a tantrum or to make them eat or listen to you or as a baby sitter as this makes them lose out on human emotional bonds and makes them connect to materialistic satisfaction of their emotions.

9. The first 3 to 6 years are critical for brain development and brain requires hands-on stimuli, face-to-face conversations, and opportunities to think, explore and listen to new words. Ensure that you include storytelling, rhymes, non-battery toys, and outdoor time in your child’s daily routine.

Koshys Hospital /About Author
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