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Wake Up Your Mind! Over Use of Technology Is A Serious Issue
Too Much Screen Time Causes Behavioral Problems in Children
We know that too much time spent on social media and with technology can have a negative impact on physical and mental health in adults, and that children who spend hours glued to screens don’t fare any better. A new study from the University of Michigan CS Mott Children’s Hospital shows that the amount of time parents spend looking at their own screens has a devastating effect on their children’s mental health and development.
What the researchers found is that the more time parents spend on their phones and other devices (even television), the less meaningful interactions they have with their children. When a child’s time spent with their parent is interrupted by technology, the child feels frustrated and unimportant. This then makes the child feel the need to act out to win back the lost attention, most often in a negative way.
What The Study Warns
The study looked at 170 two-parent households in the United States with children who were just over three years old. The parents were asked about their personal use of smartphones, laptops, tablets and others: How they use them, when they use them, for how long, with the research focusing mainly on how the use disrupts family time, like checking texts during dinner. or during playtime.
Parents in the study were also then asked to recall how often their child whined, was hyperactive, was irritable or grumpy, or generally acted or behaved badly during the past two months. After adjusting for stress, anxiety, income, education and other factors related to the parents, the study found that even a small amount of interruptions in parent-child engagement due to technology is associated with children’s behavior problems.
Although the researchers claim that they cannot assume a direct correlation between children’s behavior and their parents’ level of technology use, they agree that there is definitely a relationship, especially between a child and their mother.
Other Health Effects of Too Much Screen Time
It is clear that spending too much time in the virtual world as opposed to the real world has detrimental effects on the health and well-being of adults, teenagers and children. Some other negative effects of spending a lot of time on our devices are:
– Sight and eye health
– Mental health and depression
– Cardiovascular health and increased risk of diabetes
– Neck, back and other musculoskeletal problems due to poor posture
– Brain development and learning problems
– Problems of attention deficit
– Sleep problems
Despite all the positive attributes of technology, it is clear that allowing it to consume your life is bad for the mental, physical and emotional health of your entire family. The question then remains how to still reap the benefits of technology without letting it get in the way of a happy, healthy home. (2, 3)
How to Protect Yourself and Your Family from the Negative Effects of Overuse of Technology
As already mentioned, technology is not all bad, but when it starts to take away meaningful interactions with your children, something needs to change. There are many ways you can continue to enjoy technology without it taking over your family time
Limit screen time for everyone.
Many parents have set a limit on the amount of time spent on the computer or in front of the television for their children, but what about themselves? Creating rules for everyone in the household, including yourself, and sticking to them ensures that every day you have uninterrupted quality time with your children.
No phones at dinner.
Dinner time is often one of the few times that busy families have each day to spend together to chat, educate and share stories about their day. Having phones, television or other forms of technology at the table leads to distraction and discourages important conversation.
Choose other activities instead of movies.
While family movie night is fun and can be a nice way to spend a quiet evening, the reality is that watching movies does not promote conversation or interaction. Instead, why not replace family movie night with game night? This not only provides more opportunities for parents and children to talk, but also helps build family traditions and memories that will last much longer than a movie.
Get out… and leave the phones at home!
Take time every weekend to get out and do something as a family, whether it’s going for a walk, playing ball at the park, or bowling or indoor mini-golf if the weather doesn’t cooperate and leave all forms of technology at home, or at least in the car . Without the option of checking texts, emails or Instagram feeds, everyone is allowed to be fully present in the moment and enjoy each other’s company.
Put the phone on a plane without going anywhere.
If you find it extremely difficult to ignore your phone whenever you hear “ping!”, set it to airplane or silent mode at least until the kids leave to do their homework or go to bed.
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