We live in a world where most children and adults tend to be focused on their screens more than on what is taking place around them. As a parent, you may have been wondering if you are allowing too much screen time or perhaps not enough. Admittedly, it can be very convenient to give your kid an iPad so that you can get some things done, but there is always the concern that the effects of too much screen time can be damaging.
The Journal JAMA Pediatrics published a new study that showed some alarming, albeit unsurprising information about screen time for children who are between 3 and 5 years of age. It seems as if children in those tender years use screens more than one hour a day, which is the general recommendation. That one hour occurred without any adult supervision, so they could watch whatever they wanted. The study showed that those children were prone to lower levels of development in the brain’s white matter, an area associated with language, literacy and cognitive skills.
“This is the first study to document associations between higher screen use and lower measures of brain structure and skills in preschool-aged kids,” said lead author Dr. John Hutton, a pediatrician and clinical researcher at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. “This is important because the brain is developing the most rapidly in the first five years. That’s when brains are very plastic and soaking up everything, forming these strong connections that last for life.”
Perhaps you are wondering how much weight to put in that study. You can take it from someone who has seen the rewards of limiting screen time with her children.
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Molly DeFrank is a writer and blogger who has read many articles on the subject of excessive screen time and how it is bad for her children. She decided to set up rules on how much her children would be on their phones, computers or in front of the television.
She went into her bedroom one Saturday morning and found all of her six children in bed, reading quietly. She didn’t know that they were doing it and they were not told to go read, it was just something that happened naturally.
Molly claims that the event was not staged and I’m sure that all of us would agree it is adorable. Her kids even bring books into restaurants rather than taking an iPad and in only seven months, her daughter has grown five reading levels.
“Months ago we removed screen time for our kids,” the mom explains on her Facebook post. “Why? Because my precious babies were acting like demogogons. And Mama don’t play.”
Molly says that one hour of screen time per day per child is allowed. It is the recommended amount, because screens ‘apparently muted their creativity, caused grumpiness, fighting and whining. I was not into it. So we pulled the plug, literally’.
“As you can imagine, the kids weren’t happy when it first started but it didn’t take long before they got over it and moved on with her life. “I could not believe how easy it was,” Molly stated. “Seriously, it was like I had my kids back.”
Molly also talks about the positive aspects of using screens. “Certainly, technology can be useful in its right place…but after a quick assessment of my babies’ behavior, I knew we needed a technology overhaul,” she said. “I can’t recommend a family screen overhaul enough.”
I love to write and it keeps me busy. I've been working online, full time since 1999.