Why we are delaying introduction of technology to our kid and what we are doing instead!
There is an app for that! Walk a pet, water plants, play a game – everything in the unreal world. Gosh!
We are so accustomed to hear that. But whether the same is healthy for the kids is worth debating. Use of mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, leads to delay in speech development and reduction in physical activity among kids and that is not a healthy sign! This is precisely why we are delaying introduction of the same to our child. Instead we are focusing on activities that we used to enjoy during our own childhood.
A new study conducted in Britain has only cemented our beliefs.
It was established that children under the age of three years in Britain spend around an average 44 minutes a day using tablets and smartphones. This is awful and most likely, omnipresent. And researchers have found a link between such long smartphone usage and speech delay in children. Researchers from the University of Toronto and The Hospital For Sick Children in Toronto have found out that the risk of delayed speech increases by 49 percent with every 30 minutes of screen time!
Measuring the progress
Kids should be able to communicate in sentences of three to four words by the age two to three years. However, those who spent a long time on mobile devices were struggling with their communication skills, the researchers have found. This should act as a warning sign for all parents and a deterrent. Instead, it is falling on deaf ears.
“Handheld devices are everywhere these days,” said Dr Catherine Birken, staff pediatrician at The Hospital for Sick Children.
“While new pediatric guidelines suggest limiting screen time for babies and toddlers, we believe that the use of smartphones and tablets with young children has become quite common.
“This is the first study to report an association between handheld screen time and increased risk of expressive language delay.”
As many as 900 children between the ages six months and two years were part of the said study. Its findings were presented at 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting in San Francisco. As per Dr. Birken, children under 18 months should be discouraged from using mobile devices.
Sleep impairment and retarded brain development
Another study conducted at University College London too has some scary findings. It states that screen time also hampers brain development and leads to sleep impairment among kids. Every hour a kid spends on mobile devices results in 16 minutes reduction in sleep time.
If this isn’t scary enough, what is?
Guidelines from The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) on media use by children
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recently released guidelines on media use by children, which is essentially a good beginning. We are going to abide by these come what may and we hope this post delivers the message home among our readers, who may by be parents by now or going to be so in near future.
Here are the guidelines:
- No screen time for kids under 18 months
- Introduction of screens to kids between 18 and 24 months and that too in co-viewing setting
- One hour of media per day for kids between 2 and 5 years
- “Consistent limits” on media usage by kids above 6 years. However, AAP has been short on details what these consistent limits are.
These days, kids are not enjoying their childhood as we used to do. They are not firing up their imagination, and discover what they are passionate about! They are so much engrossed in media that they are completely devoid of physical activity and this is so worrying for their future.
The AAP notes: “Problems begin when media use displaces physical activity, hands-on exploration, and face-to-face social interaction in the real world, which is critical to learning.”
What should be done instead?
The ill effects of long exposure of media to kids should be clear by now. But what should be done instead? Here are a few activities that the kids could enjoy instead.
- Playing board games
- Ride a bike
- Go for a walk
- Learn to cook
- Read a real book
- Building something
- Drawing anything
- Water the plants
- Playing outdoors
- Painting using water colors
- Walking the dog
- Maintaining a journal – a hard copy, not on the mobile
- Solve the puzzles
- Go to the local park and let the kids spend their energy
- Talk – when was the last time you actually talked to the kid?