It was already a decade ago when psychologist Sue Palmer said that the social media has harmful effects on people, especially on children. Now she predicts that there is a new danger, maybe even a worse one.
The new threat is called the iPad, cellphones, tablets and other technology, which for many parents is the quickest and easiest way to shut down kids. For example, when a child starts screaming or crying in the public place, the parents just reach for the iPad to calm them and distract them.
The psychologist Sue Palmer says that she sees the scene more and more.
Children, who are barely able to speak, are pros at handling the iPad. The addiction to the screen starts at a very early age, and it does not get better over time. We seen teenagers only facing the screens as well.
In her book, Toxic Childhood, Sue wrote about the dangers of too much screen-time on children’s mental and physical health. Unfortunately, her fears have been correct and more and more young children are slaves of the screen.
The problem is that on average, a kid spends 6 hours in front of a screen nowadays. Plus, usually, they have more than one screen in front of them. For example, watching TV while playing a game on iPad. Sue says that we can only speculate the effect of screens on children because the problem is rather new and we do not know yet how will they behave like adults and what kind of challenges will they have then.
Sue thinks that the screens have affected the children’s attention span and hyperactivity because lately there has been a lot more prescriptions for this kind of medicines.
There was a recent study, which showed that 10% of children under 4 years were put to bed with a tablet to play with as they fall asleep. There was another research about the families owning a tablet, which confirmed that one-third of children under 3 years had their tablets.
The earlier we introduce the tablets to the kids, the harder it is for them to live without one. So it is like a real addiction. When they are so used to having one by their side, they cannot even manage without one.
The problem with iPads and other screens are that they take up all the time and children do not play anymore with other kids. That can have a hugely adverse effect on their communication and teamwork skills. Parents should not go with the easy solution and give their child a tablet anytime they are not pleased with something. Kids need to interact with other humans and socialize. Otherwise, they have a hard time in their adulthood.
Playing outside with other children helps to develop their physical skills as well. They become stronger and healthier. Also, interacting with each other contributes to developing their empathy and their problem-solving skills, which are as vital to them as food or sleep.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under two years and maximum of two hours after that. Screens distract children and do not help them healthily grow their mind and body.
Children are all about learning. They learn something new every day about the real world, and it is exciting for them. If you give them a screen, that makes sounds and gives prizes, then the real world is not that exciting for them anymore, and they prefer to spend their time watching the screen. That is a real disservice to their development.
Kids might become depressed and sad when they do not interact with others. They become more anxious and lose the trace of reality. There are also a lot of dangers like cyber-bullying and people with bad intentions online.
So parents should have strict rules and keep their eyes out for what their children are doing online. It is best to limit the time to as little as possible and teach the children to play in the real world as well.
Screens are not all bad. They have helped our society a lot. But it should be a small amount, especially for the kids. It might be easier for the parents to put their children in front of a screen to keep them quiet, but this can affect the child’s self-confidence, creative thinking, social skills and focusing negatively. So watch out for your kids and do not do them a disservice.
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