In today’s digitally driven world, children are constantly subject to enhanced screen time on multiple devices.
From early childhood they are often exposed to digital content on smartphones and tabs; children today grow up with the constant presence of devices that deliver a consistent flow of information. It is indeed a high level of exposure that involves long screen times, whether it be watching a movie or playing a game.
A heightened level of screen time can be disturbing and distracting for the growing minds. It can impact the growth and acquisition of life skills and encourage loner behavior in children as well.
Experts predict that with the advance of digital services such as Metaverse which is a fully immersive digital experience brought through VR headsets, the negative impact on children can worsen. Given the fact that Metaverse provides virtual experiences that are more powerful and engaging than real-life situations, it may also create a false sense of existence.
The International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity in a study undertaken into the impact of a high level of screen time on children, states that if children are exposed to screen time moderately, the impact would be less damaging. It also states that the quality of the content delivered digitally is vital in determining the effect on the children.
In a recent study, children who spend over 02 hours daily on screen time scored lower in language and tests that involved critical thinking. The study further stated that those who spent over 07 hours of screen time daily experienced a thinning of the brain’s cortex, the area of the brain related to critical thinking and reasoning.
Child behavior experts believe that screen time could inhibit certain aspects of the development process by limiting their focus of interest and their attention towards exploration and learning. When exposed to devices constantly, it is difficult to generate interest in non-electronic activities such as playing outdoors, engaging in creative pursuits, and engaging with other children in play.
It is also believed that over-exposure to screen time can limit a child’s capacity to engage in conversation and activities on a one-to-one basis with other children, reducing the child’s capacity to engage with others in person rather than on screen.
Reducing screen time is a key issue in ensuring that children do not get overexposed to digital content.
Parents can take the following steps to ensure a reduction in screen time:
- Ensure that young children are not constantly engaged with a screen by limiting the time they spend with a screen.
- Encourage children to participate in activities that are non-electronic such as playing, drawing, and board games.
- Set aside device-free times for family engagement – dinner time, playtime, etc.
- As a family, to develop activities such as reading books and sharing stories instead of interacting with devices.