I remember while I was growing up that we were routinely told that watching too much TV would ‘give us square eyes.’
Even when the only screen we had was a TV (and only one in the house!) our parents knew even way back then that it wasn’t a great idea for us to be sitting in front of it all the time.
And honestly, I only recall watching TV for a short period after school each day, maybe some cartoons on a Saturday morning. We played in the backyard, at the neighbours. I have very fond memories of watching my dad use his carpentry skills in the garage (he was a builder) or watching him fix his track and road bikes. Many conversations took place in the garage!
If I was bored, there was something to help mum with, toys to play with, musical instruments to practice and gymnastics training.
Kids find themselves at a loose end today and the first thing they do is gravitate towards a screen – be it the TV or another device. In today’s busy and stressful world, it is really easy as a parent to just be thankful for a bit of peace and some time to either relax or catchup on neglected tasks such as cleaning or work.
But while our children are whiling away their time in a sedentary position with their eyes glued to a screen, quietly, in the background, more issues are being created.
Emotional and Mental Effects of Too Much Screen Time
- Affects the development of the brains frontal cortex
- Social Interactions – such as learning eye contact and taking part in conversations
- Children can become irritated when they are distracted from using their device
- Their circle of friends may begin to decrease as they choose the device over participating in activities with friends
- Lowers their attention capacity, their ability to focus and even build their vocabulary
- Distracts them study time
- Affects family interactions and relationships and weakens emotional bonds
- It greatly increases the chance of them being exposed to inappropriate content, communicating online with strangers and seeking validation by constantly checking the number of ‘likes’ their post has received.
- They stand more chance of affecting their digital footprint
Physical Effects of Too Much Screen Time
- Sore and dry eyes
- Sore necks and shoulders from bad posture
- Poor muscles in hands and fingers creating issues with fine motor skills
- Sore wrists from keyboards, gaming, tapping and swiping
Australian Guidelines for Screen Time
- Children aged 5-18 years should have no more than an accumulated time of 2 hours of entertainment per day (excludes educational uses)
- Children under 2 should not spend any time watching TV or any other screens
- Children aged 2-5 should have no more than 1 hours screen time per day
What can you do to Manage Screen Time?
- Find the right balance for your child and family
- Create family rules for device use
- No devices during mealtimes
- Set an example
- Encourage breaks
- Identify other activities that don’t include screens