Families nowadays spend too much time on screens, from televisions to mobile phones. For an overwhelmed parent, screen time is a break from the chaos of child care, almost like a "free babysitter". No wonder about 68% of children under 3 years have daily screen time. Yet, every well-meaning parent knows that too much screen time can't be good for their children.
Pediatricians agree that too much screen time is not good for children. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends no screen time for children under 18 months except for video calls with family or friends. They further recommend children under 5 years have less than an hour of quality programs. Quality programs are those with educational content as opposed to mindless entertainment. Let us take a closer look at why less screen time is better for toddlers.
1. Human Interaction Beats Screens
Parents and guardians may argue that screen time is educational for children. But, the educational value of screen time does not kick in until children are at least a year old. Brain scan studies have found that young children under 1 year do not learn anything from a machine. Babies learn from other humans, hence the zero-screen time for children under 18 months.
2. Boredom Enhances Self-Regulation and Creativity
Screens are so ubiquitous that we all don't know what to do with ourselves without them. Unfortunately, screens are an escape from boredom and stress. Yet there are healthier ways to manage these emotions. With reduced screen time, a child can learn to self-regulate and engage themselves. Alternatives like Just Smarty Interactive Posters can enhance development while reducing screen time.
3. Sedentary Lifestyles Are Harmful
Children with a lot of screen time will engage in less physical activity. Lower physical activity affects the development of the brain's sensorimotor regions. It also affects their quality of sleep and increases the risk of childhood obesity and other health complications. Playtime, therefore, is important for a toddler's health and development in the present and future. So reduced screen time and increased playtime may very well be lifesaving for your child.
4. Prolonged Screen Time Affects Cognitive Abilities
There are studies that implicate prolonged screen time to reduced cognitive abilities. They show that too much TV reduces the attention span and short-term memory of children under 3 years. The only exception was for educational programs that promote literacy and problem-solving skills. No parent wants to risk their child's development so you should reduce the screen time.
5. Screen Time Linked to Behavioral Issues
A lot of screen time may cause behavioral issues in young children. This could be due to the content and the lowered attention span caused by long hours staring at a screen. These behavioral issues are most evident and harder to address as they get older, so it is best to nip this in the bud. Reduced screen time can help keep your sweet toddler from trouble now and in the future.
These days it is hard to keep our children from screens, but their current and future health is worth the fight. Thankfully options like the Just Smarty Toy Tablet, posters, and puzzles help improve their math and literacy skills while cutting screen time.