Not long back, the common sight during the vacation was of children playing around in parks and playgrounds during their vacations.
The current scenario has, however, shifting from playgrounds to AC rooms with children glued to their phones or tablets and experts believe it sends out a warning signal for society.
Dr. Sumita Saha, Consultant Pediatrician at Fortis Hospital Anandapur has sounded an alert saying, “Parents often proudly describe how adept their little ones are with digital gadgets. Hardly do they realise that they are paving the way for a lot many behavioural and psychological disorders in future.”
As per a guideline from the American Association of Pediatricians, children between the age of 2-5years, should not be permitted screen time of more than 1 hour/day and for those above 6 years, the duration of exposure is to be fixed by the parents, who also need to act as a media monitor.
Dr. Sanjay Garg, Head of the Department of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences at Fortis Hospital Anandapur, mentioned the following drawbacks of overexposure to gadgets:
- Over excites the brain: Cell phones with backlight puts lot of stress on the brain of the children. With continuous usage of gadgets, the brain gets drained out resulting in memory problem in the long run.
- Poor educational performance: The graphics of the gadgets change so rapidly that they fully engage the brain. The children gradually get used to such high levels of stimulation that they expect the same from all media. In the later stage, the books fail to provide the same level of stimulation, eventually resulting in poor academic performance.
- Restlessness and hyperactive: Excess screen time and exposure to graphics affects the functioning of the brain. The fast moving graphics of the gadgets makes the children restless and agitated. It can also bring about behavioral changes in the children and makes them hyperactive and fidgety.
- Content monitoring: Often the content, that the children get exposed to, is overtly mature for their age. Parents should act as content mentors to avoid children coming across such mature content to avoid them becoming aggressive. If the children watch such adverse content, they may undergo some prominent changes in their social behavior.
Dr. Saha further mentioned, “The children, now-a-days are so engrossed in the world of gadgets that the amount of physical activity, they experience, is compromised which in turn hinders their fine motor skill development."
He went on to add, "Earlier, physical games that children played including marbles, cricket, football would help them develop physical balance, hand-eye coordination and keep them fit. Since these physical activities are slowly losing their charm, the children are hardly able to develop these vital skills.
He also added that since children hardly move around nowadays, their face-to-face social interaction is also limited. This ends up in the children being socially shy and growing up to be introverts. Since these children do not having many friends of their age and cannot express their emotions, the rate of depression in children is also on the rise.
According to the doctor, many of his patients’ parents complain that their children are not sleeping well or are throwing lot of tantrums when laid to bed. Hardly do they know that it is the result of overexposure to screen time during the day. Not only do they have problems in falling asleep, their quality of sleep is also affected.
It is high time that parents start spending some quality time with the children so that they slowly take a shift from the gadget world to the real human world. This will ensure that their world expands to a larger space and their behavioral development happens as it should ideally be.