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Screen have become such an important part of our day, yet we hardly ever consider how much time we ACTUALLY spend in from of it. Let alone, how much our children spend in front of it.
We talked about screen-free parenting before, in this article, but today I wanted to share more about why it is important to limit your children’s screen time. Because even though it can be fun, entertaining and educational to use screens, more often than not it is way more beneficial for your child to turn off the screen and play.
If you are more into watching videos, you can also watch the video below! But let’s dive into all the reasons WHY you should consider limiting screen time.
Probably one of the most common reasons mentioned to reduce screen time is physical health. We all know how bad it is to sit down in front of a screen all day. You do not move and probably eat more than you should (we can all relate to that probably).
But it does not only make you gain weight. It can cause all sorts of physical problems. I have actually experienced this myself. I have been working from home since 2018 and have spend many hours behind a screen. Because I was (and still am honestly) looking down at a screen most of those hours, I started to develop back problems. Because one of the major side effects of watching a screen all the time, is bad posture. You lean forward with your shoulders, causing your shoulder, back and chest muscles to a position you do not want to be in.
And one of the main things our children need to do way more these days, is just move their bodies. They need to climb trees, ride their bikes and run around playing tag. An added bonus is all the fresh air they breath in outside instead!
Another obvious reason you should consider reducing screen time, is their mental health. There’s a few reasons for this.
- What is ON TV. I probably don’t even need to explain this, but the amount of violence you can see on TV these days is ridiculous. Not to speak of all the words and phrases they will pick up, the adult content they can find easier than ever before and just crap they can find. The TV has a lot of junk readily available that your children do not need and should not watch ever.
- Creativity. A lesser know side effect of screen time of the lack of creativity it causes. Did you know it is good for a child to be bored sometimes? It will make them come up with things to do and will stimulate the creative part of their brain. Turning on the TV whenever they can, obviously does not stimulate any creativity. All it does is make them dependent on someone or something else to entertain them, plus it will make them lazy. They will not think for themselves and just turn on the TV whenever they feel like. Why not pick up a book to enrich their vocabulary? Or draw a picture to process their emotions? What about just running around outside and moving their body?
- Processing what they have learnt. Another very important side effect of too much screen time, is the amount of information your children will receive. Their brains will be overstimulated with new information every second. When you turn on the TV as soon as the kids come home from school, their brains do not get time to process what they have learnt in school. Because their brains get stimulated again and again and again, leaving little to no time to process what was already put in their brain, the 7 hours before they came home. Overstimulation is a big problem in our information age and one of the reasons, I believe, we have so many young adults and even children with burnouts and depressions.
One of the lesser know but equally as obvious reasons to reduce screen time is your children’s social skills. Or lack thereof. Because what happens if your child is in front of a screen all day? Do they learn how to be social just because they are watching a show that tells them how to talk to other people? Or do they learn social skills by going outside and playing with the neighbour kids? Or by coming with you to the grocery store and talking to the cashier?
I’m sure you already know the answer, but it is still something a lot of parents don’t think about. But having good social skills is way more important than being able to name all the characters in the latest video game.
Poor Academic Performance
I mentioned it before when we talked about mental health, but spending all their time in front of a screen is detrimental for your child’s ability to perform well in school. Because in order to actually learn something, we need to process what we have heard, create connections in our brains and making sure it actually ‘sticks’.
How do we do this? Well, by doing the things we already mentioned before. Kids need to move their body, get creative and process what they learnt in a way they enjoy. My son loves to tell his sister what he has learnt in school today. By explaining what he learnt to someone else, he makes it a lot easier for his brains to remember it.
Another great way to process information, is by being creative. Colouring is amazing for the brain, but you can also think about playdoh, kinetic sand or building blocks. When a child has just learnt to count for example, it might use the building blocks to practice their counting.
There are two major reasons why having too much screen time can prevent from having a good night sleep.
- Forgetting the time. A big problem for both adults and teenagers, is spending too much time behind a screen. We all know the feeling of turning on a show at 9pm and realising at one point it is 1am and you should have been in bed 3 hours ago. When we, as adults, have trouble turning off the TV. Why would our children be able to do this?!
Something I heard over and over again when I was a secondary school teacher, was teenagers that spent hours a day gaming. They forgot about time, spent all their time gaming and went to bed too late. The next day, they were expected to be in class in time. And they obviously did not do any of their homework.
- Overstimulation. There it is again! Our brains get too much information, making it basically impossible to process it all throughout the night. Causing our brain to work overtime. And when we work overtime, we get tired. The same thing is true for our brain!
So now what?
After reading all this, you probably think; Now What?! Well, now it is time to start thinking about ways you can reduce screen time!
I am doing a whole series on YouTube about screen free parenting, so feel free to follow along there! We will talk about how to reduce screen time next! But let me leave you with just a simple tip
- Start tracking the amount of hours your child spends in front of a screen. Track the time they watch TV, play a game or scroll TikTok or Instagram (which is one of the worst things they can do, but that’s a subject for another day.)
- Reduce their screen time by a small amount. If your child spends 1 hour a day watching shows, start setting a timer and reduce the amount by 5 or 10 minutes. You don’t need to go from 4 hours of screen time to 10 minutes of screen time in one day. Take it slow. It’s important for them to get used to limits in screen time.
Once you started reducing the screen time, you can keep doing this. But like I said, there are more ways to do this, which we’ll talk about next time!