ABC by Paley – SCREENS
Even if he does not watch fairy tales at home, perhaps his grandparents have already shown him some films. Despite your sincere intentions, screens are hard to avoid these days. They are practically everywhere – on the street, in shops and even in museums.
Sooner or later, the child will have contact with technology. There is nothing wrong with that, because nowadays it is difficult to function without knowing how to use electronic equipment. Phones, tablets and computers are useful tools – we don’t need to demonize them. Instead, let’s teach children to use them responsibly.
WHO and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that children under the age of two should not use screens at all. The exception is conversations with the family using electronic media. As a child grows older, the amount of time children can safely spend using electronics increases. And so for children from 2 to 6 years it is 20 minutes a day. Children from 6 to 12 years old are recommended a maximum of 2 hours in front of the screens, while for older ones, 2-3 hours.
In times of remote work and study, long journeys by car or plane, compliance with these standards becomes a real challenge.
Therefore, whenever possible, encourage children to be active outside the home or play freely without electronics. Such play helps a child develop motor, social and intellectual development. You will also need some exercise and rest for your eyes every day. In order to convince children more effectively not to use mobile devices for so long, it is worth taking a look at your habits. If parents inevitably associate their children with a telephone in their hands, it is more difficult to be credible and convince your child that it is better to play football outside than to train your fingers while playing Brawl Stars.
Why is it worth turning off screens after work / school?
There are three main elements that we will look at: sleep, child development, and interpersonal relationships.
Electronic device screens emit blue light that our brain interprets as daylight. Therefore, the use of mobile devices at bedtime (especially in a dark room) causes less melatonin to be released. Melatonin regulates the work of the biological clock and helps us maintain the circadian rhythm. Blue light interferes with the secretion of this hormone and makes it difficult to fall asleep. For this reason, researchers recommend that we turn off all electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime and let melatonin lull us to sleep.
In the case of teenagers who often use phones without parental supervision, it is worth checking whether the electronics do not reduce their sleep. Late sitting in front of the screen takes the time needed for a night’s rest, and thus the teenager stops getting enough sleep. Long-term fatigue can then translate into a decrease in well-being, an increase in appetite and a decrease in the ability to concentrate and absorb knowledge.
Ads and various applications encourage us to show children educational videos and install special applications or games. Are they really effective and helpful in the child’s development? Not necessarily.
Research has shown that the more time young children spend using mobile devices, the greater the risk of delaying speech development. Children learn new words more effectively when interacting with another person than from movies or applications (even those referred to as educational). Additionally, when they learn words using mobile devices, they may later have trouble to use them in the right context during the conversation.
The use of electronics also translates into the development of imagination and creativity. In order for us to be able to visualize something effectively, we need to experience it with many senses. Apps, games, and movies limit the experience to sight and hearing. It is important for a harmonious development that a child experiences the world with all his senses. The touch, smell and sense of balance that children train while playing freely are conducive to proper development.
Mobile devices can connect, but also share. Nowadays, many types of communicators are the only possibility of contact with the family for many families. It is worth inviting and encouraging children to such conversations. They will not replace hugs to your beloved grandparents, but they will help maintain relationships that are important to us.
In the case of older children, mobile devices play an important role in contacts with peers. Using social media, playing games, sharing photos – these are all activities that help adolescent children build relationships with their peers.
However, excessive use of mobile devices can contribute to conflicts and misunderstandings at home. Busy using electronics, parents lose their attention to their children. It is easier then to overlook the warning signals or contact requests sent by children. Likewise, children who are stuck in the virtual world cease to be present, cannot hear what their parents say, and they stop wanting to talk face to face.
If your child has spent many hours with device screens so far, you may be tempted to cut them off from the electronics overnight. However, such a strategy may prove ineffective and may damage your relationship. It is better to start with gradually reducing the time for the phone or computer. The child will have the chance to slowly adapt to the new rules and will accept them more easily. This way you will avoid many unnecessary quarrels and tensions.
You may find a timer useful in controlling screen time. Make an appointment with the child for how many minutes you will set him / her. When the passing time can be observed, it will cease to be such an abstract concept for a child. At the same time, you will avoid accusations that you reduce the time for playing or watching cartoons.
Talk to your children about the wise and responsible use of electronics. Teach your child the rules of safe surfing on the Internet, think together about the dangerous situations that may be lurking there. Reassure your child that he or she can come to you with any matter that concerns them, and then they will receive the support and help they need.
Look for mild videos that show good behavior patterns. Watch together, talk about what happened on the screen. Then, electronics will actually have an educational dimension. In addition, you will take care of your mutual relationship.
Chang A.-M. et al. (2014) Evening use of light-emitting eReaders negatively affects sleep, circadian timing, and next-morning alertness, National Academy of Sciences
Roseberry S., Hirsh-Pasek K., Golinkoff R.M. (2013), Skype me! Socially contingent interactions help toddlers learn language, Child Development
Thomas C., Hooper L., Petty R., Thomas F., Rosenberg G., Vohra J.(2018), 10 Years On: New evidence on TV marketing and junk food eating amongst 11-19 year olds 10 years after broadcast regulations
van den Heuvel M. et al. (2019) Mobile Media Device Use is Associated with Expressive Language Delay in 18-Month-Old Children, Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics