Screen Time-How Effective?

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Are technology screens having a positive or negative effect on your child?

Ah, technology! It was just the other day your nana was calling the television the devil box, and, figuring out how the blasted computer or smartphone worked, was a past time activity. And look how it’s become the epitome of modern convenience! It’s estimated that the average individual looks at their screens 150 times in a day. But, should your bundle of joy, or terrible twos terror, be interacting so heavily with technology screens?

The Good

Research suggests that interactive media such as e-books can help improve their reading skills and develop the child’s vocabulary when they are closer to the school-going age. In addition, a University of Wollongong researcher, Irina Verenikina, suggests that online gaming can be classified as imaginative play; if the parent chooses an open-ended and engaging app that will encourage the child to do so.

And there are other benefits to interactive media, such as:

  • The brain develops faster decision-making and problem-solving acuities
  • Visual motor tasks and peripheral vision improves
  • Children are more capable of handling quick cyber search skills.

The Bad

It’s a known fact that children until the age of two, discover the world around them through their senses and interaction with adults and other children. However, introducing tech during this time can impact their learning curve. An experiment by the Centre for Toddler Development at Barnard College showed, when given an iPad, children between 18 to 36 months old were so engrossed that they became antisocial. Yet, when the iPad was taken away, they displayed more creative and interactive behaviour. This hands-on activity is vital for emotional and language development, as well as, improved problem-solving, motor, and people skills.

In addition, apps are created to provide audio-visual rewards that are not only overstimulating your child, but also hindering their development of internal self-regulation; be it the ability to sit still without a device, or the capability to learn without continual rewards. That explains the decreasing attention spans and memory recollection, as well as the increased impulsivity, today. Plus it’s proven that watching more than 1.5 hours of TV daily puts your child at the risk of obesity.

The Ruling

The truth, scientists do not have enough data to really prove what effect constant tech exposure will have on children’s development. The current Generation Z , is the only group of children to grow up with smartphones and tablets, hence the conflicting reports from health officials. Since you can’t live in a device-free world, here are some tips to keep your tots safe:

  • Remember that moderation is the key. They require a balanced schedule that prioritizes chances for play and socializing.
  • Model positive tech usage for your children to emulate.
  • Encourage one-on-one time sans technology daily.
  • Vet the apps they use – they should be based on science, mathematical, literacy, or vocabulary building concepts.
  • Absolutely no tech in the bedrooms; that’s a ‘sleep-only’ zone.
  • Limit screen use to one or two hours a day.
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