Five Good Reasons to Limit Children TV and Computer Time
Lately I’ve been reading a lot about the dangers of TV and computers for our children’s health. I was aware of the fact that “TV is not good for you” or that sitting for too long in front of a computer screen is really unhealthy, but I didn’t really stop and wonder why exactly was that so. Sadly, in the past year, there have been days when I let my 21-month-old son watch short videos on youtube with Winnie the Pooh, or videos of himself filmed the previous days. Sometimes for 5 minutes, sometimes for 15-20.
While at home in Romania, watching short videos on either the laptop, or my smart phone shortly became like a daily ritual that I dreaded, but could not end. It got to the point where I literally had to hide in order to answer my mobile or text a friend if I wanted to escape all hell breaking loose. The constant buzz of the TV in the background (my dad is addicted to the damn thing!) helped fuel my son’s obsession with the media. Sometimes I could tame his screams by distracting his attention. But it didn’t always work. Each time I failed, I felt a pang of guilt for giving into his hysteria and feeding his addiction.
One of the reasons for his obsession with the screens was the lack of educational toys we had left in London, and his inability to being “creatively messy”. In our home, he’s more involved in fun activities such as hand painting and wall-scribbling. The “cave drawings” were a definite no-go at the grandparents’ place.
We seldom watch TV in our home in London. In fact we went without owning a TV set for about 4 years. I am so happy that since coming back at the end of June, Aidan’s time in front of the laptop has become literally non-existent. These days he’s too busy having fun exploring and rediscovering his territory to watch videos. And I marvel at being able to answer my mobile every time it rings. Sometimes I wave it before his eyes and the boy doesn’t even flinch. There goes to show how important a child’s environment is when it comes to the habits he develops.
So, here are a few good reasons why, when the time comes (as late as humanly possible without us turning into proper dictators), well be very strict about Aidan’s time in front of the TV or the computer.
1. TV/computers increase the risk of developing aggressive behaviour. A 3-year-old who watches on average 2 hours of television per day is prone to juvenile delinquency, violence and criminal behaviour later in his teens and adulthood. This is why the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that kids 2 years old and younger should not be exposed to any sort of screen media. (that’s a bit too late for us, but hopefully we haven’t caused any irreparable damages).
2. Pre-teen children toddlers exposed to television and computers have a higher risk of developing psychological problems. According to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, the risk stays the same even if those children also participate in physical activities.
3. Toddlers who watch television are significantly more likely to have poor health and poor educational performance by age 10.
3. Constant media screen exposure is also linked to ADHD and “inner speech” interference. The pace of TV is greatly sped up and is totally unnatural to the way young children see and experience real life. Exposing a baby’s developing brain to videos may overstimulate it, causing permanent changes in developing neural pathways. For every hour watched at age one and age three, there is almost a ten percent higher chance of developing attention problems that could be diagnosed as ADHD by age 7. A toddler watching three hours of infant television daily has nearly a 30% higher chance of having attention problems in school. These numbers are scary!!!
And if you think it’s ok to have the TV on when the kids seem busy doing other stuff around the house, scientists come to tell’you the contrary. Unfortunately, even having the television on in the background can disrupt toddlers as they play with toys, causing them to lose focus during play.
5. TV and computers delay language development and impede creative play. The more time young children spend in front of computers and TV, the less time they have to dedicate to roaming, exploring and making up games.
Sadly, for many of today’s children, outdoor games like hopscotch or hide and sick that kept us out until the dusk, seem outdated at best. And while some parents may use these modern entertainment tools to keep their children away from the dangers of the outside world, do they really keep them safe?