How screen time affects kids mentally
In 2004, an American paediatrician found that for every hour of TV watched per day at the age of three, there was a 10% greater risk of concentration difficulties at age seven. Also what kids watched affected their risk: truly educational content (National Geographic documentaries) was not associated with any increased risk, while fast paced, bright, loud content (Cartoon Network) was associated with poorer concentration in first and second graders.
There is now an official psychiatric condition – Gaming Disorder – which reflects the seriousness of this form of screen overuse. It should therefore not be surprising that there are several other documented adverse mental health consequences of internet gaming and similar screen activities, including extreme irritability, and aggravation of depression and anxiety.
How screen time affects kids physically
Lastly, there are very real physical health risks associated with excessive screen time. There is research linking obesity with screen overuse. This is thought to be due to a combination of factors, including the commensurate lack of exercise, the tendency to snack on unhealthy foods when online, and dysregulation of the appetite-regulating hormones ghrelin and leptin.
Find the balance and protect your kids
Some have argued that we as a society have to accept the “new normal,” that the world and the human brain have evolved and increased digital media consumption is an inevitable and necessary aspect of modern life.
Nonetheless it is still our responsibility as a society and as parents to find a reasonable balance, and to protect especially very young children, whose brains are more vulnerable and whose immaturity precludes them from choosing wisely, against the very real dangers of early and excessive screen time.
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