The reality is – all kids will watch TV or play video games. But did you know that experts estimate that children spend up to 7.5 hours per day on electronic devices, not including what they might use while at school?
There are many studies the look at the effects of exposure to too much TV, and they can include:
• poor school performance
• problems focusing
• less use of imagination
• Increased anxiety
Studies on video gaming are only recently emerging, and there have been claims that this form of interactive, fast-paced media has the potential to rewire the brain. MRI studies have shown specific changes in the brain during violent video game play. This virtual violence appears to be stimulating ancient emotions, such as aggression and fear, which are part of the fight-or-flight response. It makes sense. Spend a few minutes watching and playing along with your kids and soon you’ll be hooked. You’ll feel excited, scared, powerful, and wanting more. They’ve been designed to spark intense emotions, despite the fact you’re passively sitting in front of a screen. Fun and entertaining, they have a down side. Children hold onto the anxiety and strong emotions even after screens are shut down. They carry these strong emotions around the house and pass them onto others. Parents are reporting to me their kids are more irritable and short-tempered the longer they play. Some kids, particularly those who are shy, show greater apprehension, even worry over having to switch off their screens, enter the real world, and get outdoors and socialize with other kids.
And, all this screen time means more time being sedentary – which is not healthy physically or mentally. So, I wanted to challenge us all to try life without screens at all. No doubt you and your children will discover new, fun things to do around the house. And with summer here – you’ll be outside more. So, pay attention to your kids’ behavior this week – and think about how this “detox” from screens might be playing a role! We’d love to hear your stories, so share them on our Facebook page.
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