How Screen Time Impacting My Kids' Learning & Development?

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Screen time has the potential to help your child learn and develop. 

Screen time can be considered both positive and negative, depending on who you ask and how much screen time they think is “normal.”

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Digital technology offers kids active learning experiences like never before. While the benefits can be huge, the internet isn’t a platform where children can have unrestrained access.

To determine what exactly a healthy amount of screen time is, first consider the age of your child.

For example, screen time is more detrimental to children below the age of two.

But even when kids are older than two, the content they consume during screen time really determines if the impact will be positive or negative.

Screen time and its role in child development is hotly debated. Almost everyone has a take on the topic. 

That’s why Carrots&Cake pulled together some of the facts to help you understand this better. 

Is there a relationship between screen time and displacement?

Screen time can displace children from the real world and the skills they need to learn at this formative stage of life. 

The displacement hypothesis states that screen time negatively affects mental well-being because it displaces time to participate in healthier activities, such as physical exercise.

Here are some facts that support this hypothesis:

1. Television has been shown to have a negative impact on reading skills in children under the age of one. 

2. Time spent with screen media causes children to spend less time with physical toys and social interactions, these children have poorer language skills and cognitive development

The relationship between screen time and cognitive development

Most parents think there isn’t a link between knowledge, development and screen time. 

That’s not true.

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For instance, shooter games  — the ultra-violent ones that parents hate — can improve a child’s spatial skills! These skills include the ability to generate, retain, retrieve, and transform well-structured visual images. 

This includes being able to do mental rotations in your head, visualizing objects from different perspectives, and coordinating how to use different spaces in relation to other spaces (C. S. Green & Bavelier, 2012).

Uttal et al., 2013 found that players of shooter games show faster and more accurate attention allocation.

Don’t worry though, other games have immense benefits too!

Adachi & Willoughby, 2013 determined that children who play strategic video games like roleplaying games (e.g., World of Warcraft & Star Wars: The Old Republic) have excellent problem-solving skills.

Video games generally put the player in an immercement state. This is sometimes referred to as a flow state or being in the zone.

This frame of mind reduces experiences such as boredom, depression, and anxiety (Vogel et al., 2018).

That doesn’t mean you should let kids run wild with \video games whenever they want.

Educational games have incredible benefits as well. 

In fact, after a child reaches two and a half years old, educational media are effective in enhancing academic knowledge and skills.

Mobile apps are particularly affective in enhancing literacy and training math skills.

The impact of screen time on behavior

Screen time can be addictive for both children and adults. 

This addictive effect results from the instant gratification received from playing video games   and scrolling online. 

These activities can cause children to feel agitated and throw tantrums when they are asked to stop engaging in screen time. 

Just like an alcoholic gets upset when the bartender cuts them off, kids react badly when the thing that makes them happy is taken away.

The type of screen media a child consumes also impacts behavior. 

If a child plays fast-paced games, it can lead to withdrawal symptoms when the game is taken away. Educational apps don’t have this effect because they stimulate children differently.

It is important to point out that violent entertainment media is often associated with impulsive and aggressive behavior, which may cause problems at home, in school, and with friends.

5 Top tips for parents dealing with screen time:

Managing screen time and children can be difficult,.

Here are tips to help you with your journey:

  • Television exposure should be limited for children under the age of two. 

Less television means more time spent reading, playing outside, and having quality family time. 

  • Parents should interact with toddlers and touchscreen devices (including e-books) the same way you interact with children while reading traditional books. This increases the benefits of using the touchscreen device by incorporating social and family time.

Minimize screen time exposure for children in general.

Dr. Clifford Sussman, a child psychologist and psychiatrist, suggests the following screen time rules:
For younger kids: no more than 30 minutes per session

  • For teens: no more than 1 hour per session
  • Use educational apps based on a science of learning approach.
    This ensures your child is actively gaining benefits from the app.
  • Encourage your kids (either say your child or your kids, your kid sounds too harsh) to engage in activities that require a high cognitive load (i.e., lots of thinking) before engaging in screen time activities.

    This can help your child reduce habit-forming/addictiveness to screens. 

How can you manage screen time more effectively?

With Carrots&Cake you can help your children build positive screen time habits, minus the tantrums. Click here to learn more!

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