Many studies have shown the adverse effects of excessive modern gadget use in kids. Parents should not resort to handing their children mobile electronics for entertainment, and must constantly look for ways to encourage direct interaction with their children.
Research conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) has indicated that kids spend approximately 7.5 hours of screen time a day, at an average of around 53 hours per week in total. Many kids become tech savvy as young as age two, spending vast amounts of time watching videos and playing games on smartphones and tablets. Experts such as Jenny Radesky, clinical instructor in developmental behavioural paediatrics at Boston University urges parents to increase “direct human to human interaction”with their children.
“These devices may replace the hands-on activities important for the development of sensorimotor and visual-motor skills,” which are both vital for mathematical and scientific application, Radesky said. She urged parents to have more “unplugged” family interaction, and to arrange a “designated family hour” without the use of television, consoles and electronic gadgets. Researchers have also found that using modern mobile devices to pacify toddlers and young children in general may hamper their ability for self-regulation.
Another study by a team of researchers led by Dr. Nirmala Karuppiah of the National Institute of Education’s (NIE) early childhood and special education academic group observed how pre-schoolers in Singapore used devices like smartphones, tablets and computers during observation sessions in their respective homes and schools, plus interviews with these children, their parents as well as their teachers. Out of the 60 children who participated in the study, 65 percent have been found to be playing with electronic devices before age three. Only 30 out of the 60 parents set allowed “computer time” for their kids. The rest allowed their offspring to use gadgets whenever they wanted.
Dr. Karuppiah said that many of the parents were unaware of the risks involved in excessive use and misuse of electronic gadgets, such as poor posture, eye strain, negative habits like skipping or rushing meals, and socializing with peers. The enormous advantages of traditional play for a child’s mental and emotional development are amplified with all these findings on early childhood exposure to modern devices. Key takeaway? Parents must stay vigilant and learn of the negative effects of overexposure and misuse of modern devices on child development, and spend more time directly interacting with their kids.
Check out the extensive list of indoor activities for children uploaded on What we Do All Day’s page. Pick one (or two, or three...you decide), and have a swell time interacting with your little ones.