How Children’s Screen Time Affects Their Learning
A few days ago on a cloudy Saturday afternoon, I was at a friend’s place to meet her toddler son. I sat on the sofa watching him play with his toy animals. He would pick one up in his tiny hand, name it and show it to me. I was amazed at how such a young child could identify a turkey, a Cockatoo or a cheetah so accurately. The little boy could even write A to Z and 1 to 10 as well. I was curious as to how passionately my friend’s one and a half-year-old was learning. When I asked her about it, she told me it hasn’t always been this way. Earlier, her son wouldn’t eat unless a mobile/iPad with some cartoon was in front of him. He would watch tv or Videos on iPhone for hours on end. It was after she realized how it put his mental development in jeopardy that she decided to eliminate the use of these technological stimulants altogether. Now, she doesn’t watch the tv or let him watch it. She even bites the urge to check her Facebook or Whatsapp when he is around. This has resulted in her son being more inquisitive and creative.
In an age where it is extremely difficult for parents, especially mothers to juggle work, home, and childcare, we tend to find the easy way out by sticking a phone in our toddler’s hands to keep them busy while we tend to our chores. While it certainly is a tactic that works momentarily, the impacts of having kids use technology to keep busy are damaging in the long run. Therefore it is important to minimize the use of technology around kids so that they can be smarter through better mental development.
Why should You Keep a Check on Screen Time of Your Children?
The utmost development of a human brain takes place between the age of one and five. Thus, the negatives of the frequent use of technology among little children are higher in comparison to its positives.
Downsides to children using mobiles and watching too much television?
Shorter Attention Span
Young children get accustomed to rapid flashing images due to appealing colors and movement. Just like we tend to idly watch tv, children too will develop the same habit at an early age. This restricts their learning ability as attention spans grow shorter and information retention power reduces or under-develops.
Children tend to develop habits quickly. The overuse of phones, cameras, and tv manifest into addictive behaviors. This makes schooling a difficult task ahead.
Disturbed Sleep Cycle
Children tend to stay up later than they should be watching their favorite cartoon. Thus, they miss out on the time they do most of their growing – while sleeping. Being sleep deprived has a horde of health impacts of its own not only in children but also in adults.
Less Physical Activity
As the little ones become sedentary, they indulge in less physical activity. They grow to prefer the television than go to a park or play with their toys. This increases the chances of a rapid weight gain and stunted growth.
Aversion to learning
Children learn their best through playing with things, using their hands to create and processing information on their own. Most of the content is meant for entertainment purposes and does spoon feeding. Thus, the child will find it difficult to get by in his play school.
As most of these effects take roots, the child will lean more towards aggression. Also, a lot of cartoons too can nudge the child towards aggressive approach.
So, How to Break Toddler’s iPad Addiction?
Yes, the negatives seem daunting. But that doesn’t mean all is wrong in the world. Simply taking care and minimizing digital use will do the needful. You can take the following steps to avoid the pitfalls overuse of technology can cause among children.
Be a Martyr Yourself
Being a mother already has made you used to sacrifice. And now motherhood demands another- to shun your phone and tv use. If the kids don’t see you use phones or watch tv they will automatically be distant from the triggers themselves. I am not asking you to not use a cell phone or a tv. Just avoid it as much as you can around children. Find time for it after they are asleep.
Moderation is Key
Even if you minimize you and your kid’s use of technology, you can’t entirely avoid it. So moderation is the solution we must resolve to implement. Let the children watch their favorite cartoon for an hour. But make sure it doesn’t exceed more than that. Set rules and schedule and follow them strictly.
Make them Look Someplace Else
Divert their attention to something more beneficial. Get them more interested in picture books, or let them paint and color to their heart’s content. Such activities will benefit them in the long run.
Pick the Right Content
Make sure the content your children are exposed to is educational yet entertaining. For example, the cartoon Dora The Explorer teaches kids as well as takes them on an adventure. Be it on a cell phone screen or a television one, the right content will actually do good for the child.
Clock in more Quality Time
While your chores are certainly important, make sure you spend quality time with your child and are not just sitting in the same room with him or her. Talk to them, ask them what they think of a toy or a story. Even if isn’t a whole day but for an hour. Make sure you have an hour of quality time with children each day.
Although as a whole the use of technology seems scary, it isn’t. Simply following the care tips mentioned above and being conscious of the relationship between your child and technology will be enough to ward off the negative effects. Mindfulness, just by reading this, will help you understand and establish how your child’s screen time affects his or her learning.