Advice Column, Education, Impaq

What is the real effect of too much screen time on kids’ wellbeing?

In today’s modern world, children grow up knowing how to take pictures with our iPhones or how to navigate to the games on our iPads, but what effect does all this screen time have on them?

Health and mental consequences 

Research suggests that spending an excessive amount of time in front of screens could have serious health and mental consequences. The researchers from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital completed a lengthy research project on the comparison between the brain development of a group of children who spent many hours per day in front of screens (smartphones, computers, tablets and TV) versus children who spent most of their time reading, playing and socialising in real life. After scanning the children’s brains, they found that children who were overexposed to screens had poor connectivity in the areas of the brain that managed language development and cognitive control.

Another study done by the Radiological Society of North America found an imbalance in the brain chemistry of children who were overexposed to screens. Such an imbalance leads to all kind of malfunctions, but mainly:

  • Drowsiness, 
  • Depression, and 
  • Anxiety. 

This was confirmed by a recent study by the well-known researcher Jean M. Twenge, which shows a strong correlation between the screen time of adolescents and depression, leading to suicidal thoughts. This research report explains that the group of teens (observed in the study) who spent most of their time doing sports, homework, socialising with friends in real life and going to church had a significantly lower risk of ever showing signs of depression or anxiety.

Academic performance 

In 2015, a team of researchers from Cambridge University observed and recorded the activities of more than 800 fourteen-year-old children over a period of two years. They recorded their GCSE (the General Certificate of Secondary Education) results at the age of 16 and noticed that the group that spent only one extra hour per day in front of screens saw a fall in GCSE results of approximately 10% over two years. The most interesting part of the report is that even when this group spent more time studying to counteract the drop in their marks, they could still not outperform the group who had the lower daily screen time.

Cutting down 

Convince your tech-savvy child to cut down on their screen time by explaining that too much screen time will lead to:

  • Poor development of your child’s language skills, which are important in 90% of careers.
  • Drowsiness, depression and anxiety.
  • Suicidal thoughts amongst teens.
  • A significant drop in their academic results.

By simply dropping their screen time by one hour a day and without having to increase their study time, your children can improve their marks dramatically!

Use this infographic to convince your children to start enjoying life in real time instead of on screen.

Anne-Marie Reed: Maths Specialist

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