How TV and Internet Affect Your Child’s Brain?

Watching TV, digital media, or using the Internet, can be good but excessive usage can lead to serious problems. Especially in young children. We have looked at how it affects their development and growth stages.

 

Watching TV/online digital media can cause the following problems in children and young kids:

Effect on children’s brain development:
Studies showed that watching TV before age 3 lowers cognitive development and abilities such as short-term memory, early reading, math skills and language development. Some studies showed that children watching TV from a very early age can develop attention problems such as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

Less physical activity and growth:
Addiction to TV & online/digital content will reduce the amount of physical activity in children. This will impact in a low quality of sleep they get and therefore will reduce a production of growth hormone. Ultimately affecting how your children will grow.

Researches and health experts have said that there is a direct link between TV/online time and obesity in children because they stay inactive for long periods and tend to eat high energy snacks. While watching TV/online, many ads encourage children to eat unhealthy foods such as sugary drinks, potato chips, and junk foods that lead to obesity.

Eyesight problem:
Too much screen time can lead to vision problems.
A study was conducted among school children in Qatar to examine the effects of excessive TV, computer, and internet use on low vision and its prevalence. 2586 students (52.8% were girls and 47.2% boys) aged 6-18 years participated.  The study showed a greater prevalence of low vision among TV viewers and internet users. The proportion of children with low vision was higher. The prevalence of low vision decreased with increasing age.

Ophthalmologists say that watching TV/online stuff doesn’t cause any physical damage to eyes or eyesight. Kids may feel eye fatigue and eyestrain if they watch TV for several hours or if they sit very close to the screen. And their eyes will bounce back after a night or two of quality sleep. The American Academy of Ophthalmology says that sitting close to a TV may be a sign of nearsightedness.

Social development:
Children who appear to be addicted to watching TV/Internet don’t spend enough time playing or socializing. Therefore, less or no interaction with parents, other children, and people in their social circle can affect their social development. It also affects their knowledge and understanding of social interactions and behavior.

Adjusting to live in the real world:
The younger children face difficulty or inability to differentiate between everyday reality and what happens on screen, alongside their attempts to make sense of competing for similar worlds, may interfere with and hinder executive function. They face difficulty in adjusting to live in the real world.

Psychological problem:
Children who are addicted to TV/online content can suffer from depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and confidence. This will limit their problem solving, creating and thinking power.

Violence:
Kids may see more than 12,000 violent scenes on TV annually. More than 1000 studies confirm that showing strong doses of TV violence increases aggressive behavior, violent activities, and suicide rates.

What are the recommendations and alternative activities?

Screen time (TV, Online) recommendation:

The following recommendations are according to the American Academy of Pediatrician, Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology(CSEP), Australian Government Department of Health and New Zealand Ministry of Health:

Infant/toddlers = None (except video chatting with family)

Early childhood = < 1 hour

School-age to adolescence = < 2 hours

 

And according to German Federal Ministry of Health the screen time should be:

Infant/toddlers = None 

Early childhood = 30 minutes

School-age to adolescence = 1 hours (primary school) /2 hours (adolescence)

 

  1. Choose the right TV shows and give them a choice between 2 shows.
  2. Do not let them watch manipulative advertisements.
  3. Make screen time a family activity. Watch shows or programs with your kids.
  4. Do not allow your children to watch TV/digital media during meals.
  5. All cartoons are not good and acceptable for children because many of them contain violence.
  6. Play educational channels instead.
  7. Don’t watch too much TV or digital media. Take part in other activities such as reading and exercise. Be a good example to your children.
  8. Encourage physical activity (exercise, outdoor games, sports at school).
  9. Buy educational toys (such as Classic Bead Maze, Periodic Table Building Blocks, Learning Resources Alphabet Soup, Calculator and Cash Register, Building Blocks, Model Building Set, First Chemistry Kit, and First Botany Kit) which can increase their knowledge, creativity and thinking power.
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