In the age of technology, children have easy access to different gadgets such as iPad, laptops, iPhones, smartphones etc. Parents introduce screens to kids as a learning medium, on the contrary misuse and overuse of technology adversely impact child’s mental health.
The negative impact of technology on mental health:
1. Lack of social skills: Due to increased online interaction, children do not involve in personal communication. On average children spend 3.5 hours on the screen which is a lot of visual stimulation, gradually they cannot be attentive to a person.
Many children are habituated to watching TV or their favourite cartoon while eating, these children often associate mealtime with screen time. In absence of a device, they feel irritated, cannot concentrate on eating, and feels disconnected from their parents.
Please encourage your child to connect with you during lunch or dinner; listen to their feelings; and allow them to play with friends. Opportunities to interact with peers and family is all-important for their socio-emotional development.
2. Poor sleep quality: Overuse of screens during the night leads to sleep deprivation or poor quality of sleep. Blue light emitted from mobile disrupt circadian rhythms and poses difficulty to fall asleep. It is interlinked with irritability, mood swings, lack of motivation for physical activity, stress, anxiety, and depression.
3. Psychological well-being: Internet addiction disorder leads to poor social skills, low academic grades, and learning barriers. It takes a toll on a child’s mental health and sometimes also causes ADHD. Higher engagement on social media leads to a feeling of loneliness and more isolation. Moreover, it leads to decreased communication and intimacy.
4. Cognitive development: Television in the background can hamper parent-child interaction. The Child cannot learn self-regulation and kids develop attention problems to focus on instructions hence failing to execute the task properly.
In young kids, excessive use of screens slows down language development and causes learning barriers. It causes poor performance in schools. Consuming adult-directed media can produce anti-social or aggressive behaviour and can be detrimental to shaping a child’s personality. Negative social comparison seeds wrong body image perception in young minds
5. Cyberbullying: According to a McAfee cyberbullying study, 85% of Indian children have reported being cyberbullied. Kids who perceive negative online interaction have at a greater risk of developing anxiety and depression.
Apart from this, long hours on digital screens result in poor sitting posture. In turn, it causes neck pain, back pain, or cyber motion sickness at an early age. The kids gradually lose interest and motivation for sports and physical activities. These children develop sedentary lifestyles and end up making unhealthy eating choices. It can be a major reason for the spike in childhood obesity. More exposure to digital screens leads to visual disturbances in kids.
Parents are required to be cognizant of the duration kids are spending on digital devices as well as their online interactions. Face-to-face dialogue is vital to develop common social skills. Children imitate their parent’s behaviour so both parents should limit screen usage.
Screen time recommendation from the Indian Academy of Paediatrics for digital wellness in infants, children and adolescents.
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