The impact of SCREENS is HUGE in our lives today. We constantly have screens – both big and small being flashed at us. Whether it’s your ringing phone, your What’s App messages lighting up everysecond, your TV with its unending advertisements and soap operas, your home theatres, video games, your laptops and I-pads; so much so that what we see and what we hear has slowly (but surely) shaped our thoughts and actions. And if this is the case for us adults, imagine the kind of impact it has on our children. Considering the fact that maximum brain development occurs by age 7 and further building by age 12, what children see, do or hear at this age will shape their entire future.
As adults you often hear people complain that they have no time, yet they spend hours scrolling through their phones, staring endlessly at screens bombarding their brains with more content than there is space for. Children see this behaviour in adults and ape it. They believe its okay to stare at screens all the time as they watch adults do it too. Parents also resort to gadgets and smart screens to keep their children engaged so they don’t have to spend quality time with them.
Screen addiction today is like digital heroin. It’s as bad as drugging a child. It ruins healthy family relationships, turns children into unhealthy couch potatoes, pushes them deep into a cocoon from which they rarely learn to emerge, they lose their communication skills which are essential in life, and become solitary, reserved and many-a-time even highly antisocial. Too much screen usage is stimulating and makes a child completely lost in it and they end up feeling like screens are the only thing that can make them happy. They reach a point where they keep going back to screens whenever their hands are free.
Here are some of the negative impacts of being exposed to screens for long spans of time –
1) Prolonged exposure to bright blue light causes headaches, decreases concentration and leads to poor vision.
2) A lot of interesting and engaging content for children on screens has led to a decline in their physical activity level. Physical activity also provides an opportunity for a kid to make new friends, communicate, and learn key skills like coordination, teamwork, etc. Thus, with no physical activity, the child’s ability to socialise also diminishes.
3) Staring constantly into screens effects posture. Children are constantly slouching over and complaining of neck/back pain. 4) Sitting in one position and spot with a screen in hand for prolonged periods of time causes obesity. Children have no interest to go outdoors and play or take time to eat healthy meals as they are addicted to screens.
5) Children spend a lot more time with screens right before bedtime, which causes irregular sleep patterns. The bright light emitted from screens make the brain think its day time, disrupting sleep.
6) Screens take a toll on imagination and creativity of the child. They live in virtual worlds for long periods of time and disconnect from reality.
7) Gadgets make children more depressed as they are usually very sad and angry when you deprive them of it.
8) It increases violent thoughts and behaviour in children as most video games involve punching, shooting, destroying, etc.
9) Spending time in front of screens leads to lesser social interaction. Children become socially awkward and do not know how to communicate effectively with other people. They form views and opinions based on what the screens display all the time. This can very negatively affect the psychological growth of the child.
While we cannot completely take away screens from the lives of our children as technology is what is shaping their future, we can limit the use of screens in a big way.