Unexpected Effects of Too Much Screen Time In Children

Did you know the average child spends up to seven hours of time each day watching screens? Keep in mind that screen time includes everything from playing on cell phones, watching television, and the online classes your kids may have to be taking for the time being. Anything that involves watching or playing on an electronic screen is classified as screen time.

But, does screen time really warrant much concern from parents? Could it really be damaging to your child to spend hours in front of electronic devices throughout the day, or are people overreacting? To help you reach your own conclusion, here are some of the unexpected effects of allowing kids to have too much screen time each day.

Social Skills

An observational study published in Computers in Human Behavior revealed that pre-teens with restricted screen time were better at reading human emotions than pre-teens who had no screen time restrictions. This research backs up popular opinion that the more time children spend interacting with their peers face-to-face, the better their social skills become. Children who spend too much time interacting with computer game characters or watching other people play are more likely to fall behind socially.

Self-Confidence

Every parent wants their children to have self-confidence, but screen time may be hampering this goal. A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health shows a startling connection between screen time and diminished self-confidence. According to the study, time spent watching television, playing on video game consoles or engaging in other types of “screen time” led to a lower self-reported self-esteem in some pre-teen and teenage children.

Other research also shows a correlation between excessive screen time and reduced feelings of happiness and self-worth in children. This may be partially because too much screen time reduces physical activity. What many parents may not realize is that regular physical activity is essential for proper physical and mental growth in children. It also releases endorphins, which are natural mood-boosters and can help children feel happy and fulfilled.

Addiction

Does your child show intense mood swings or increased aggressive behavior when screen time is either increased or taken away? Many parents are unaware that screen time can become addictive in children. Being entertained by screens often leads to the temporary release of dopamine, which can cause children to want more. The cruel irony is that the more screen time your child has, the more addicted he or she is likely to become.

Psychology Today recommends breaking your child’s screen addiction by seeking non-screen alternatives to keep your child engaged and entertained. It’s also important to set limits and let your child know when screen time is allowed and when it is not. Most importantly, make sure you’re a good role model of responsible screen time yourself.

Sleep

When your child watches screens too much, his or her natural circadian rhythm (the internal clock that regulates sleep patterns) can become disrupted. Screen-induced insomnia is a real problem in today’s world. It can also lead to anxiety and irritability. 

Studies have shown that excessive screen time can cause symptoms that mimic ADHD symptoms. So, monitoring and reducing screen time can be very impactful in helping to reduce these symptoms and avoid a misdiagnosis. If you ever do suspect that your child has symptoms that are not related to external forces or unhealthy habits, then we recommend to first explore non-prescription alternatives, such as Brillia, that are gentle, targeted, and do not have harmful side effects. 

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