We all know that phones and tablets can be addictive–just ask me how many hours I lost to Candy Crush! If adults can’t handle the addictive nature of screens, we can hardly expect our children to do better.
Unfortunately, there’s increasing evidence that too much screen time can have a very negative impact on children. Here are some of the most harmful effects.
Staring at screens after dark can disrupt the body’s natural sleep rhythms; in essence, the blue light emitted by the device tricks your internal clock into thinking that it’s daytime. This makes it harder to fall asleep at night–especially if kids are continuing to scroll in bed.
Spending too much time online has been shown to have a damaging effect on older children’s mental health. In addition to increased depression and anxiety in older kids, younger children are at risk of developing ADHD when exposed to excess screen time.
Playing on a tablet might stimulate a child’s mind, but it isn’t doing much for their body. A sedentary lifestyle is harmful for children of all ages (and, to be honest, for adults as well). In addition, kids may be exposed to ads or programming that promotes eating sugary, unhealthy foods that they then want to eat in real life.
Previous generations of children had to make their own fun by playing games together. Today’s digitally addicted kids are at risk of losing crucial social skills when they’re given too much screen time, which isolates them from their peers.
Kids who spend too much time in front of screens may develop behavioral problems as they grow up, including poor impulse control and anger management.
A brand-new study out of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center found that brain scans of kids who were allowed more screen time displayed different brain structures than their peers. Specifically, the language processing center developed differently.