- Not only is it possible to reduce screen time for your kids, but it will improve your children’s emotional health. Your child will communicate better, have fewer outbursts or tantrums, and can have lowered anxiety and depression.
- Reducing screen time means more quality sleep for your kids and less time fighting to get them up and ready for school while the growl back at you.
- Better grades and a true love for learning without a constant fight? Is that even a thing?! It is now. Reducing screen time for kids is the answer to all of your prayers.
Keep in mind that too much or poor quality screen time has been linked to:
- Obesity – Reduces healthy habits in them that will carry over into adulthood
- Irregular sleep schedules and shorter duration of sleep ( that comes with a domino effect of problems too)
- Behavioral problems – Behavioral problems increase the risk of depression, anxiety, and so much more.
- Loss of social skills – Social skills are extremely important in order to have successful relationships in the future professionally and personally
- Violence – A result of behavioral problems, plus they become desensitized to violence from TV
- Less time for play – Playtime promotes imaginative play and exercises the brain
- Academic problems – Elementary school-age children who have televisions in their bedrooms do worse on academic testing.
After that dirty laundry list who else wants to reduce screen time for kids?
Emotional Intelligence and Health In Children
What does emotional health mean to you?
Emotional health for each stage of development means our children are able to communicate their feelings appropriately for that age group. They can understand what they are feeling and why they can sense how others are feeling and react in a manner that doesn’t make the situation worse. Does your child have good coping skills? This is something that is difficult for a lot of us, even as adults.
How does reducing screen time for kids help with their emotional health and intelligence?
First, let’s see what it’s doing to our children.
Research shows that screen time is mostly spent on anything but educational based apps or shows. Children ages 2 to 4 were reported to be spending an average of 1 hour and 37 minutes a day on screen time, with as much as 1 hour and 16 minutes being spent on educational materials. In contrast, kids ages 8 to 10 spent 2 hours and 36 minutes a day on screens and only 42 minutes was spent on educational media.
In other words, the proportion of screen time spent on educational materials dropped from 78 percent for younger kids to 27 percent for older children. YIKES!
Between birth and age three, for example, our brains develop quickly and are particularly sensitive to the environment around us. In medical circles, this is called the critical period, because the changes that happen in the brain during these first tender years become the permanent foundation upon which all later brain function is built. In order for the brain’s neural networks to develop normally during the critical period, a child needs specific stimuli from the outside environment. These are rules that have evolved over centuries of human evolution, but—not surprisingly—these essential stimuli are not found on today’s tablet screens. When a young child spends too much time in front of a screen and not enough getting required stimuli from the real world, her development becomes stunted.
Tablets are the ultimate shortcut tools: Unlike a mother or father reading a story to a child.
Let’s compare the differences using an example from Psychologytoday.com. A smartphone will spoon-feed images, words, and pictures all at once. This bombards the child not allowing them to process the storyline at their own pace. When a mom or dad reads, the child takes time to process the voice into words, visualize complete picutres and put effort into following the storyline. A device does the thinking for them making their own cognitive muscles stay weak.
When cognitive muscles remain weak, they are unable to build these neuronal connections in order to develop healthy emotional habits as well. Emotional intelligence (EQ) is something that we don’t hear enough about, but this is something that is equally as important as IQ.
Emotional intelligence(EQ) is when someone can communicate well, develop strong relationships, negotiate tricky situations, be leaders in their field and according to TalentSmart even earn more money. They will be more empathetic and compassionate to their friends, partners and own children, relate more easily to others and have greater self-awareness.
Often, too much screen time is a huge factor in irritability in kids. Chronically irritable children are often in a state of abnormally high arousal, and may seem “wired and tired.” That is, they’re agitated but exhausted. Because chronically high arousal levels impact memory and the ability to relate, these kids are also likely to struggle academically and socially.
Below are examples of what children experience when they are emotionally healthy as you reducing screen time for your kids.
- Form secure relationships – Creating healthy bonds with children thier age and even trusted adults is important. We are their to guide them and teach them. If they are able to form these bonds that will help as they grow.
- Explore and learn – Imagination is open door to endless possibilities. It is where creativity, ingenuity, and thinking outside the box begin for child development. Imaginative and creative play is how children learn about the world. During imaginative play, children manipulate materials, express themselves verbally and non-verbally, plan (intentionally or unintentionally), act, interact, react, and try different roles.
- Empathize with others – We could use more empathic people in this cold world. Our children are the future and they need to be equipped on how to handle all different types of personalities in order to ensure our world is still thriving long after.
- Less likely to experience depression and anxiety – Of course this has many contributing factors, but screen time is one of them.
- Ability to harness and apply emotions effectively – How to recognize their feelings, understand where they come from and learn how to deal with them.
As I was doing research on this topic, I found some steps that will help you help support your child’s emotions effectively:
- Support and validate their feelings. A great example of when it’s dinner time and your little one is playing from ahaparenting.com, “It’s hard for you to stop playing and come to dinner, but it’s time now.”
- It’s okay to express emotions that in a non-violent way. All feelings are okay, but all behaviors are not.
- Teach them to work through their issue by suggesting ways to solve the problem.
- They’re learning, so be patient and walk away for a minute if you get frustrated, then come back.
If you’re worried about fights, this blog tells you 3 easy ways to do reduce screen time for kids with little to no fights.
Better Sleep and Less Fighting
Did you know healthy sleep positively affects neurologic development and appears to be the right medicine for the prevention of many learning and behavioral problems?! That’s according to WebMD.
Here are 3 things that quality sleep will do for our kids:
- Improves mood AND memory. Insufficient sleep impairs memory consolidation, emotion stabilization, school performance and the capacity to learn.
- Builds brain cells. Sleep directly affects a child’s cognitive development. The human brain is a work in progress until age 21 and consistently sufficient sleep will help them reach their full potential.
Sleep improves immunity. Insufficient sleep weakens the immune system’s ability to fight off illness – short-term, chronic and acute health problems.
- Repairs cells. Similar to what happens in adults, sleep is crucial for repairing and rebuilding cells, every single night. In children, sleep plays a key role in releasing growth hormones, improve immunity, strengthening of the nervous system, metabolism and weight management.
Does your little one have healthy sleeping habits?
Here’s a few things that will help you determine how well their sleeping habits are.
- A sufficient amount of sleep for their age group
- Uninterrupted (good quality) sleep
- The proper number of age-appropriate naps
- Sleep schedule that is in sync with your child’s natural biological rhythms
Here’s a checklist of what a child with healthy sleeping habits looks like:
- Optimal alertness – You can see this in a child who is calm and attentive, pleasant, with wide eyes looking around, absorbing everything, one who socially interacts with ease.
- Quality of sleep – Quality sleep is uninterrupted sleep that allows your child to move through all the different and necessary stages of sleep. This is essential for our nervous system.
- Nap Time – Naps are also quite different from night sleep. Not only are they not the same kind of sleep, but naps at different times of the day also serve different functions. They wake up refreshed and ready for play.
- Increased attention span – They are more focused on the book you’re reading and may ask questions and focused on finishing puzzles as opposed to quitting before it’s finished.
Reducing screen time for kids especailly an hour before bed helps them avoid blue light which is so bad for our eyes and brain. Plus, it will help them unwind from a busy day. There are plenty of queit time STEM activities that kids can do before bed.
Here are a list of quiet time STEM activities:
Improved Grades and a Love for Learning
Kids can hardly pay attention to anything longer than 10 seconds, heck even adults have such short attention spans these days. So if we’re having a hard time, imagine our kids and they’re still developing. When you reduce screen time for your kids you’re setting them up for success.
This article talked about a study that showed, reducing screen time for kids led to higher school performance, more prosocial behavior, and lower aggressive behavior.
Benefits of reducing screen time for children in school:
- Eagerness to learn more – Children enjoy the challenge of learning and the steps of problem solving. It’s rewarding to get something right.
- Increased focus – Children are less likely to give up on themselves and the problem they’re facing. They will focus on the task at hand and feel confident enough to critically think and problem solve.
- Proactive habits are formed – When they can’t sit around and zone out, they have to become more attentive to the world around them. They are actively living in the moment and have options giving by their parent to do various activities that will help “exercise their brain”. Eventually, these will become their own choices that are healthy habits.
- Decreased stress during homework time – Kids will have better recall on what they’ve learned in school and they focus better, allowing them to practice what they’ve learned and felt good about it.
- Improved grades – Children are actively listening to the teacher and absorbing new material. They’re more likely to recall and understand what they’re learning. Studying or practicing what they’ve learned is less of a chore and becomes a goal to do well on their tests.
Promote a healthy technology relationship using these Tips and Tricks:
- Discourage entertainment media while doing homework.
- Plan media-free times together, such as family dinners.
- Decide on media-free, unplugged locations in homes, such as bedrooms.
- Engage in family activities that promote wellbeing, such as sports, reading, and talking with each other.
- Set a good example and turn off the TV and put your smartphone on “do not disturb” during media-free times with your family.
- Avoid exposure to devices or screens for 1 hour before bedtime. Do not let your children sleep with devices such as smartphones.
You are an amazing parent as you take the little free time you have to research what else can be done to set your child up for success. #parentwinoftheday
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