5 things that happen when a child sits in front of screen all day
“I am so thankful I had a childhood before technology took over.” Unknown
Children are our future and it is up to us to shape them the best we can. Technology is a huge part of our day to day life, especially during this pandemic period. Of course, there is nothing wrong it, it makes our lives easier and helps us stay connected with each other, learn, work remotely; it brings the whole world to our home. However, children need their childhood to be dynamic and intellectually challenging. Children need to learn to socialise, to think for themselves and to learn to be creative. Also, from the medical point of view, children which spend too much time in front of screen develop conditions like obesity or cardiovascular disease.
According to Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, people go through four phases during their life. During the first phase which lasts up to our 2nd year of life we learn skills like looking, listening or sucking. During the second preoperational stage which lasts up to our 7th year of life we learn to think out of the box, for example, books are not just books anymore, now we can build a pyramid out of them. Third phase is called concrete operational phase and it is crucial because during this phase we start to think logically. 4th phase is called formal operational stage and it lasts until the end of our lives. During that phase we learn to think abstractly.
It can be seen from this that putting a child in front of a screen and ignoring it will not contribute to their development in a right way. Piaget himself stated that children learn the best by exploring and feeling the world themselves. A paediatric therapist Chris Rowan claims that four crucial elements to achieve a healthy kid progress are movement, touch, human connection and exposure to environment.
First thing that happens when a kid (or anybody) sits in front of a screen too much is that their tactile and vestibular systems are neglected while visual and auditory systems are overused. Over usage of these systems leads to anxiety and stess. These systems should be used the other way around. Usage of tactile system lowers cortisol, anxiety and adrenalin.
Second is OVS (Computer Vision Syndrome) which American Optometric Association defines as the combination of eye and vision problems associated with the use of computers. Children, especially in this pandemic period spend around 7 hours in front of their screen (considering they have online lectures) and it is crucial that after the mandatory time they do something else not connected to any type of screens.
Third is that sedentary life causes obesity. Children (or anybody) tends to eat in front of their screens. Obesity should be taken very seriously because in later life stages it could lead to diseases like diabetes, stroke or heart attack.
Fourth, if children are allowed to play video games, they tend to become more competitive and violent towards others. Back in 1997 professor S.M. Dorman discovered that computer games trigger high heart activity measured by a rise in a heart rate, diastolic and systolic blood pressure. If this research proved this almost 25 years ago one can only imagine how contemporary, more violet games affect child’s body.
Fifth, it is proven that technology usage can change the way the child’s brain function. Children are unable to focus on one thing at the time, it decreases their attention span and it lowers their memory capacity.
Many elderly people cherish their childhood. They remember their bloody knees, climbing trees, running up and down the hill all day; they are all happy when they talk about it. It is up to us to provide such enriching childhood to our children and to turn them into happy young people and future leaders. Technology is awesome but we have to be able to control it before it starts controlling us!