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Take the Kids Away from the Screen

03.06.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

Canadian researchers have proven the connection between the amount of time a preschooler spends in front of a screen and the risk of developing behavioural problems and ADHD

Preschooler at the TV screen

No one is surprised when a two-year-old baby skillfully uses a tablet. Another common sight is to see a   mother turning on cartoons on her phone for the child so she can go about her business or to brighten up a long waiting time at the clinic. Conscientious parents do attempt to combat the media noise that penetrates children’s minds by introducing restrictions on viewing entertainment content such as playing games on the phone and computer. Doctors do not recommend more than 1 hour of screen time for children from 2 to 5 years old or more than 2 hours for children of 6 to 8 years old. At the same time, statistics claim that many of today’s children use various electronic devices for 6-7 hours a day.

Researchers from the University of Alberta recently released the results of an analysis of the data of newborns from more than 2.4 thousand families from a national cohort study. The study collected genetic data, data on health status, lifestyle and environmental influences of 3.5 thousand children from the time they were in the womb until adolescence.

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The data analysis showed that children who spend more than 2 hours a day in front of a screen are more at risk of developing clinically significant externalization problems, such as behaviour disorders and hyperactivity with attention deficit as compared to children who use electronic devices for less than half an hour a day.

Besides behaviour problems and attention retention, “screen kids” have an increased risk of visual impairment, speech delay, sleep disturbances, and spine curvature. The ability to switch various information streams forms an absent-mindedness, clipped thinking and difficulties with concentration in today’s children. They are used to perceiving information constantly, they are easily distracted and need a constant change of impressions.

We cannot establish total control over children. Moreover, according to scientific data, parents’ limitation of screen time, may, on the contrary, make it more attractive to kids.

According to Canadian researchers, the real factors that can protect a child from the influence of the screen are adequate sleep and physical activity.

The right organization of leisure time is of decisive importance for the development of a child at the preschool age. Spending weekends at home in front of the TV or walking in the fresh air, giving the child a tablet or a construction set to play with – the choice is up to parents.