More and more scientific research points to the many harms our modern use of technology has on our health and the health of brains, especially little growing brains. Parents and guardians can give the a very important gift this holiday season (and every day, really) of presence. We hear it so often, “moments like these are fleeting, so cherish every second,” but are we doing our children just when we allow a screen to pacify crazy tantrums or fill valuable brain growing time during the day by putting show after show on? Let’s agree to scale it back a bit, or even better, bring it back to basics and shut down the electronics (just while the sun is up). Just a day at a time, and see how it goes. You (and your children) will begin to rely less and less on the “screens” to entertain you and begin to organically create, use that frontal lobe and keep our logic, reasoning and social skills sharp.
Below are ways that using screens too early on our little ones prove to be more harm than good:
1. Excites the Instant Gratification Factor in our Kids (and all of us, really).
Because we are a modern world of “I need it now, faster and better,” having connection to wireless and digital devices gives us information at the touch of a button. When screens are turned off, we are taught to expect that pace and speed, but real life does not happen that fast. Learning to slow down and live presently is just that, learned. We must teach and remind our little ones and ourselves that real life pace should be as fast as our awareness and breath. Taking a little bit more time to do our daily tasks will help with anxiety and stress, especially for our families. This will lessen psychological issues in the future.
2. Lack of Social Skills.
With more and more on line gaming and networking screen culture, teens are locked away in their rooms when not in school. Experts suggest that children 8-12 should get no more than two hours of screen time a day, and our current statistics in the modern societies say we are surpassing 3-4 times that. This results in children and young adults not knowing how to socially interact, and having social anxiety in settings with actual real live people and groups. Children are less and less likely to look others in the eyes when communicating and reading social cues have fallen dramatically. This is important for many reasons. Jobs are harder to obtain when you do not know how to interact and be with people. Solving social problems (conflict in the playground, school or job place) will be challenged. Socialization is part of being human. Too much screen time stifles that.
3. Physical Health and Body Movement Halts.
Over 60 % of young men and women of the western world are obese (not just overweight). This is due to more than 2 hours watching screens. (The average teen and young adult spends on average 7 hours a day behind screens). Because school budgets have cut physical education in schools and our culture has evolved to be more sedentary than ever before, most children (and adults) are no longer out and about, exploring in the park or riding bikes with their friends in the streets (because it has become too dangerous, some say). This is very sad, because movement enhances learning and attention ability. Kids grab their ipads and stream this show which follows that show and then get back on their computers to do some interactive school suggested homework. Even children in kindergarten are being told to do an hour of homework on the ipad or computer each night. Now about 84% of young adults ages 18-24 years old complain of lower back pain from slumping over too much for a long period of time. I think we should do more tactile mental stimulation in nature and less optic nerve stimulation from LED screens, or save them for after the sun sets.
4. Poor Sleep, Poor Hearing, Eye Sight Taxed
Everyone who sleeps with their smart pads, computers, mobile devices and within 10 feet of their internet router is being exposed to a huge dose of EMF’s (Electro Magnetic Frequencies) that are radiation frequencies that have shown to disrupt our REM sleep and lead to sleep deprivation, and could build up toxins and anxieties into our bodies. Piggy that onto the use of ear phones (which have more than 12% of adolescents with hearing impairments) and strained wrists, hands and eye sight. . . Isn’t it better just to hold you and your children accountable and limit electronic device usage to a minimum? Turning off the electronics 2 hours before bed time allows the optic nerves to relax and signals to the brain that it is time to rest.
I find it appalling that 1 in 11 children ages 8-18 years are addicted to technology. That means they cannot function normally without their devices. Adults have a very high number as well. The sad part about that is that parents are detaching from their dependent children and plugging away into these devices, while missing tender moments to. . . check their mail (again). Most times it is unnecessary and simply feeding into a need to be busy or stay in touch with the outside world, of which is giving us a false sense of connecting. Our little ones will mirror what they see. They are very impressionable. If you want to model good behavior, put down your phone and lift your head and see what they are showing you. Yes, it is THAT important. (photo credit: the inquirer.com)
I say, instead of being consumed with Cyber this and Black that, we stay present. We act with awareness and pay attention to the moments in our lives that help create memories, love, gratitude and happiness. Everything else will come and go and is not tangible. Connecting with others (eye to eye) is the most rewarding action and feeling your being will experience. So let’s practice shutting down or turning off our devices. . . especially in front of our children (just until the sun is down).
Photo credit: pixgood.com, the guardian.com
Below is a guideline for technology use by young babies and children provided by Huffington Post: