When streaming means more than dreaming to teens
It is a normal evening, this time I want to be home early to some time with my daughter and possibly write a blog. It is all colorful trying to get her to talk and let me know how her day was, she is barely two! We talk with all manner of languages until we are synced and we can have a conversation.
A time comes now when I want to write on my laptop, she cannot allow me since she is all over me and the laptop. The screen and the keyboard intrigues her. It was a mission that personally I knew would not succeed before I started, I keep aborting such missions every time. At one point, I downloaded YouTube for kids on my phone and giver her to watch cartoon music and drama. This allows me to concentrate on some work on the laptop. It works!
As I scroll up and down correcting typos on my word document, I cannot help but think what the consequences of screen time means to children at such young age. I have come across several reports how screen time can affect children negatively, their wellbeing as well as their brain development. I am quick to stop writing and engage her without the phone. What about the television? It is so easy to ignore it and still is a screen. I wonder the PG notice before any program begins is ever something we ever pay attention to when watching with our kids seated quietly, the kids glued on the screens and often singing along the ads.
Ever been on a trip in the car with the kids? If you’re like most families, these ‘longer’ trips mean the kids will ask for (or automatically be given) the Phone or the tabs to keep them amused and engaged, as they drive. Growing up, we did not have phones or tabs – we only had spies. ‘I am spying with my eyes and I can see something that starts with ‘F’, what is it? – flower, goes the answer!
Are screens really the enemy?
Screens have created a moral horror among parents. When we talk about devices, phones, tablets or anything else that possesses a screen, conclusions are made. We are ‘good’ parents if we minimize screen time. We are ‘bad’ parents if we allow too much screen time.
Ours I think, is the first generation having to seriously deal with the technology that has swept over our society. And we are dealing with concerns and intrigues our parents could never have considered. With accessibility to screens, so much has changed – and children are being impacted at younger and younger ages. The kicker is this: too many parents simply don’t know what to do.
I belonged to a school of thought that believed screens were neither good nor bad. Rather, it was what we did with them that was important. I am now less persuaded of this as time goes by. Each device and each app that is created for that device has been intentionally, deliberately designed, often with input from of engineers, psychologists, marketers and others so called professionals, to be as compelling and captivating as possible. The people behind the devices and the apps are not unbiased. They have a specific mission: to make people use them as much as possible.
The tragedy is on teenagers who have a degree of freedom. They own phones and tabs, the wifi is free. You probbly do not know what they are doing behind the screens of their phones and tablets. (Read ) According to parent24 Teens who spent an excessive amount of time on screens were twice as likely to have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression.
No wonder the rise in number of suicides reported and a huge number of young people who have had suicidal thoughts and who are dissatisfied with life. This is a trend to be concerned about as a parent.
And that’s a big problem according to these findings, because this generation of teens, whom I call “iGen,” spends an extraordinary amount of time on screens – up to nine hours a day on average – and are also more likely to suffer from depression.
This research is correlational, goes on the report; meaning that, it isn’t clear whether more screen time leads to depression and anxiety, or that someone who’s depressed or anxious is more likely to spend more time in front of screens.
Either way, excessive screen time is a potential red flag for anxiety, depression and attention issues among children and teens.
So, what do we do?
A 2010 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 8- to 18-year-old children devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes to entertainment media each day. That totals more than 53 hours per week or 2770 hours each year!
Is that your teen?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends at least Two hours a day also allows for many of the benefits of screen time for kids and teens – making plans with friends, watching educational videos and keeping in touch with family. This is without transferring time for other activities that provide a boost to well-being, like sleep, face-to-face social interaction and exercise.
Technology is here to stay, it will keep evolving. But parents do not have to let it dominate their children’s lives.
In 2016, Bill Gates told reporters that he doesn’t believe any child under the age of 14 should be allowed a telephone – simply because of the excessive screen time it such technology promotes.
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