Too much screen time?
With so much technology in the home today, children of all ages are spending too many hours with their eyes on the screen. This takes away from more creative, active play with toys like building bricks that stimulate more learning and growth. While there is no question the Internet holds a wealth of knowledge and entertainment, focusing primarily on this type of inactive pastime can hurt your child development physically, mentally, and emotionally.
The Australian Department of Health suggests a limit of two hours per day for kids between five and 12 years of age. The American Pediatric Association recommends no screen time at all for children under two, one hour for children up to five, and only two hours after that. Studies show, however, that most have their eyes on the screen for a lot more time every day. When you combine tablets or computers used in school, TVs in many bedrooms, and smart phones at every age, six or more hours is not an uncommon length of time to be in front of an electronic device.
What is Wrong With Screen Time Anyway?
Various studies conducted around the world find that screen time contributes to developmental and behavioral problems of many kinds. One of the main problems is the lack of physical activity, which can lead to gaining unhealthy weight and childhood obesity. If your child is watching TV, playing on the computer, or texting on their phone for multiple hours a day, they will have little time left to get outside and run around or join an organized sport team. Gross motor skills and strength may suffer.
Other physical issues may arise from staring at close range for too many hours. Some include lack of sufficient tear production, eye irritation, fatigue and headaches, neck and back strain, and even nearsightedness. Children need a variety of visual stimuli both close up and far away to keep their eyes healthy.
The lack of free time also translates into lack of interest in other hobbies that help to develop and grow the child's creativity and work ethic. Imagination suffers when all of the sights and sounds of a story or game are fed directly to the child. Reading a book, on the other hand, engages the imagination in a more active way although it still falls short of physical goals.
Many of the negative aspects of screen time include social behavior and emotional development. Even though many kids use smart phone or tablet to text friends or go on social media, these forms of communication are not as beneficial when it comes to developing social maturity or the ability to interact with many different types of people. One study from the University of California at Los Angeles showed that children kept away completely from screens for just one week were much more proficient at reading facial expressions and emotions.
Other potential problems caused by excess screen time include:
- Developmental delays in toddlers and young children
- Delayed language development
- A lack of social skills or these skills weakening over time
- Shorter attention spans which may affect schoolwork
- Inability to make eye contact with people
- Difficulty sleeping or insomnia
- Overstimulation leading to irritability and bursts of anger
- Possible diagnoses of ADHD, anxiety disorders, or worse
Kids these days love screen time, but parents should be aware of all the potential problems that come with it. Encourage a diverse range of interests, creative pastimes, and physical activities every day. One of the easiest ways to do this from the time your toddler takes their first steps till the time they leave toys behind forever, is to introduce something that sparks the imagination, gets them moving, and is tons of fun.
Balance Electronic Stimulation With Creative Play
Parents can encourage physical fitness with sports, active hobbies like dancing, hiking, or kite flying. They can keep a cabinet full of craft supplies to spark imagination. Play dates and group activities help social skills develop. One thing that covers all of these benefits, however, is a collection of large scale building toys like KickBrick.
Toy bricks meant for tabletops like Lego may improve manual dexterity and imagination, but lack a physical fitness component. Get kids on their feet and moving with bricks large enough to build walls, castles, and towers inside and outside in the fresh air. This activity will build strength, balance, and fight against unhealthy weight gain.
KickBricks encourage cooperative play and a good dose of competition too. Who can build the highest tower? Who can knock down the other's wall with a well-placed kick? Kids stretch their social muscles whether they need to discuss building techniques or work out the rules for a contest.
Big construction toys fulfill all the requirements for great developmental play that screen time in front of computers and mobile devices do not. The internet and games are not going away, but with KickBricks around, kids will not mind putting it aside and unplugging to have more fun.