It was about ten years ago when Sue Palmer, an eminent psychologist, warned against the detrimental effects of social media on people, particularly on children. Today, she is concerned about a new danger, which might be even worse!
This new danger is called IPad, tablets, cell phones, and other devices, which most parents these days use as the easiest way to calm their kids down. For instance, when a child starts crying in public place, the parents reach for an iPad right away to divert their attention.
In her book, Toxic Childhood, she warned against the dangers of too much screen-time on children`s physical and mental health. The bad news is that she has been right about all of her fears and we are witnesses of the more and more children becoming slaves of the screen.
These days, a kid spends about six hours in front of a screen. As an added bonus, they have more than one screen in front of them. For instance, playing a game on cellphone or IPad while watching TV. As Sue explains, we can only theorize on the effects of screens on children as the problem is relatively new and we are not sure yet how will they act.
She believes that screens have influenced children`s hyperactivity and attention span as recently there has been a lot more prescription for this type of drugs.
A recent study has shown that ten percent of children under four years were put to bed with a tablet to play with. Another research confirmed that up to one-third of children under three years had their own tablets. It is worth mentioning that the earlier kids are introduced to tablets, the harder it is for them to live without one.
The major problem regarding screens like IPads is that they basically take up all the time and children are left with no time nor desire to play with other kids. This negatively affects their teamwork and communication skills and they have a hard time later on. Parents MUST avoid using this easy solution to please their children and calm them down, as this only gives them a hard time in socializing and interacting with others.
Playing with other children provides physical benefit too, as it makes children healthier and stronger. It also contributes to the development of problem-solving skills and empathy, both of which are of utmost importance. Screens only distract children and inhibit the growth of both their body and mind.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises no screen time for children under two years and maximum of two hours daily after that. All parents should try to limit screen-time to as little as possible and teach their children to spend more time in the real world.
While screens have helped our society progress, it should be a small amount! Parents need to stop using them as a quick way to keep their kids quiet, as this affects their social skills, self-confidence, and creative thinking.