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How Screen Time is Ruining Your Child’s Mental Health

February 08, 2024 4 min read

A young girl fixated on a phone with the screen's light illuminating her face.  The image suggests that screentime may impact a child's mental health.

It’s always tempting to use screen time as your babysitter because it almost always works wonders! Seriously, all you gotta do is hand over the tablet to your toddler and they’ll let you have some quiet time when you badly need it. While the motive behind this habit is all good, it might not be the best solution in the long run. 

Too much screen time has been linked to negative effects such as obesity and delayed speech in toddlers. But did you also know that screen time can negatively affect your child’s mental health? While we can’t deny that screen time comes with some great benefits like entertainment, it’s paramount to engage children in other screen-free activities to improve their creativity and foster their mental wellness. 

Wondering what else you can do to keep your child engaged? Fret not. In this article, we’ll look into how screen time can negatively affect your child’s mental health, and tips to help keep kids off the screen hassle-free.

 

Different Ways Screen Time Affects Your Child’s Mental Health

How long does your child spend on the screen each day and at what point do you conclude that they’re spending too much time on their iPad? Well, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children between 2–5 years should only spend one hour on a weekday and three hours on a weekend day on the screen. They further recommend limiting screen time as much as possible for kids above six years and encouraging healthy non-screen activities. If you are not sure of how to regulate your child’s screen time, you can consider following the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines. 

Now let’s get onto the elephant in the room—how screen time could be affecting your child’s mental health.

Anxiety and Depression

Studies have found that children who spend a considerable amount of time on the screen have higher tendencies to have anxiety and depression. Kids who are always on the screen barely have time to socialise with other people or even reflect. As such, they might end up piling up unprocessed emotions that could trigger depression. 

If for instance, they have an issue bothering them, they might not even remember to share it with a guardian because they’re all about playing video games or watching their favourite cartoons. Interacting with their guardians and other people not only improves the bond but also encourages frequent conversations that could help address certain issues affecting the kid.

Sleeping Problems

Too much time on the screen has also been associated with sleeping problems. If your child isn’t getting enough sleep time because they’re always glued to the screen, it means that they aren’t resting enough. As a result, they might be more irritable, moody and overly exhausted which affects their mental wellness. Eventually, the kid could end up struggling with depression and anxiety.

Low Self Esteem

Because of spending long hours on the screens, kids don’t have enough time for physical activities. They’ll probably be glued to a TV while bingeing snacks, only taking bathroom breaks when they have to. Due to this, they stand a higher chance of becoming obese. The changes in their weight and physical appearance could then lead to self-esteem issues especially if other kids are also making fun of their weight. 

It’s even worse if your child is on social media. The child might not tell the difference between virtual and real life. They begin to compare their lives with what they see on social media which could affect the way they negatively perceive themselves. Social media usage also exposes them to cyberbullying which could result in detrimental effects on their mental wellness.

 

4 Fun Tips to Help Reduce Your Child’s Screen Time

So, what do you do to keep your little ones off the screen? Trust us, it doesn’t have to be anything complicated. Engaging them in simple fun activities will help them focus better, sleep better and most importantly, improve their mental wellbeing. 

Here are a few suggestions to help your kids spend less time on the screen.

1.   Limit Your Screen Time

Children learn best through observation. If you spend most of your time watching reels and TikTok videos, your child might think that it’s acceptable to be on the screen for long hours. In short, lead from the front.

2.   Encourage Outdoor Activities

If you hacked growing up without technology and still managed to have lots of fun, your little one can also manage. Encourage them to participate in outdoor activities such as skating, hide and seek, ball games, and riding their bikes. With time, they’ll realise that outdoor games are equally or even more enjoyable than watching the TV. 

3.   Get Little Change Creators’ Re-FUN-able™ Colouring Mat

Children love colouring and there’s no better way to stimulate their creativity than letting them colour their hearts out. Little Change Creators’ colouring set features a double-sided white silicone ‘canvas’ and 12 colourful markers. It also comes with a washable cloth eraser so the kids can be as creative as they can be, erase and repeat. Bye-bye colouring books! 

What’s even better is that the Re-FUN-able™ colouring mats are dishwasher-friendly and machine-washable – perfect for pre-dinner entertainment and using as placemats.

4.   Set Strict Rules on Screen Time

Once a child is addicted to the screen, reversing it might not be easy. Therefore, it’s best to set the rules surrounding screen time early on and enforce them. You can start by removing any screens from their bedroom or even collecting all their phones and tablets before they go to bed. This will ensure that they sleep through the night without screen distraction.

 

Take Care of Your Mental Wellbeing

There’s no denying that we need to care for our kids’ mental wellbeing. But, as a parent or a caregiver, you also need to take care of your mental wellness. It’s the only way you’ll manage to take care of your little ones and ensure that they don’t get addicted to the screens. After all, research has found that parents with higher stress levels are more likely to let kids spend excessive time on screens. So, here’s your permission to make a cup of tea and start colouring with your kids!

 

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