Screen Time Detrimentally Affects...
Dexterity…Eyesight…Cognitive Development! Oh My!
It seems that every other day there is a yet another article or study about the ill effects of screen time on our kids:
As a parent, it can feel overwhelming to navigate through this sea of information as we try to raise our kids in a landscape of technology. Is there an answer? How do we alleviate the fear and uncertainty that we feel each time those little hands reach for the iPad and our brains instantly recall these headlines? To me, the trouble is, that while these concerns are real, so is the reality that technology is not going away, and will remain a large influencing factor in our children’s lives. What is a parent to do?
As Dr. Jeremy Walsh, lead researcher from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa, says “the whole day matters”. It’s not enough to focus solely on putting down those screens but also to look at how children are supplementing their off-screen time.
Here at KIDICTED™, we like to call that building the “whole kid”. As parents, we focus our efforts on helping our kids get a good night’s sleep, plan structured time to excel in their talents, as well as provide a reasonable dose of tech to keep current in our ever-evolving digital world. But equally important and complementary too, kids need the freedom and space for unstructured time to play, create, imagine, discover and connect in the real world.
Too often in my house, it feels like we flip between structured activities such as school, sports teams and music lessons and tech time. My kids spend a lot time being active and creative but in quite structured environments. I find we rely too heavily on structured non-screen time to fill their day. This leaves a huge void in unstructured time where the skills that we fear screens are affecting are truly developed.
Climbing trees, drawing, make believe etc…. Too many days, we watch as the school yard immediately clears out of kids who are rushing off to scheduled activities rather than taking time to explore the forest, walk home together etc. - those independent activities that foster cognitive development, dexterity etc.
Setting aside time where kids must fend for themselves, take risks, not have a parent overseeing their every move feels like the missing link – and it feels like the answer that will help achieve the balance and offset those scary screen time ill effects.
Do we need to reflect more on whether our busy schedules and helicopter parenting are also contributing to the problems? Is screen time entirely to blame? Perhaps in shifting the focus and discussion away from screen time effects and toward the benefits of free play and finding time for old school play, we will find some answers.
Let’s allow and help our kids have the memories that we cherish – the joy of a giant game of road hockey that gets bigger as the day goes on, of getting lost in a game of pretend, in digging in the dirt looking for worms or best of all, simply “playing outside” and all that entails till the street lights come on.
Are your kids leading a tech-balanced life? Tell us how you are allowing for balance for your kids in all areas of their life?