Are your kids glued to their screens?

Written by Dr. Andrew Doan & Brooke Strickland on .

Kids are born into a world full of technology. Every week, there seems to be a new advancement in the world of technology. Babies and toddlers grow up surrounded by televisions, computers, video games, tablets, smart phones, and more. A new study revealed that almost half of parents in North West area of the United Kingdom think that their kids are addicted to digital devices.  Approximately 44% are glued to their screens, with tablets being the top technology for children (39% of children have their own iPad).  More than a third (38%) of North West kids also own a mobile phone, while nearly a quarter (24%) have already got Facebook.

The group that showed to be the most tech-crazy were 8 to 10 year olds. Most of those kids spend time gaming online, one in five of those kids had their own Facebook profile, and 36% had their own phone. When parents were asked to respond, less than half of them said that they did not monitor their kids activity online and 28% of them said that they believed it was ok for their children to be on their devices for up to 4 hours a day. 

Rob Hogan, optical expert, was interviewed for the study and he stressed the importance of keeping kids away from their screens for extended periods of time, as well as placing a good light source when using a computer screen. He also said that for every 20 minutes spent looking at a screen, spend 20 seconds looking at something 20 feet away. (1)

Exposing children to technology is not a bad thing. But when they become glued to the screen and start craving it, there is a problem. Limit access to technology – let them play video games and surf the web only in moderation.  Turn off screens before bedtime, as the light from the screens can disrupt sleep patterns. When technology use becomes excessive, it can lead to other problems like behavioral issues or difficulty in focusing, with the risk of developing attention deficit disorder. Another common issue is eye strain and neck issues, simply because kids that are hunched over the screen, continually squinting. A recent study showed that kids who played less than 1 hour of video games daily were happier and did better than kids who played 3 or more hours a day! (2) Moderation is the key!

Monitor your children’s use of technology. In moderation, technology can be a beneficial tool, but in excess, it can damage them physically, as well as emotionally and socially. 

 

References

1. Arthur, Sam. “Parents believe North West toddlers and teens are hooked on tablets, phones, and games, says report.” Mancunian Matters. July 31, 2014. Accessed online August 10, 2014. http://www.mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/310770034-parents-believe-north-west-toddlers-and-teens-are-hooked-tablets-phones-and-games

2. Andrew K. Przybylski. Electronic Gaming and Psychosocial Adjustment. August 4, 2014. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2013-4021