2 weeks ago I attended and presented at the New Zealand Chiropractors Association annual conference on communication, I loved it. But what struck me was the message that we received from Professor Wayne Warburton on the significant effects of screen time on children’s brains.
Recently published research on the effects on children’s brains has shown some startling results that should have you thinking more about what your kids are looking at, how long they look at it for and whether or not their screen time is actually beneficial. In a statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics, discusses their recommendations based on the latest research as to what is appropriate screen use and in what context screens can be beneficial and in which ways they can be hugely detrimental.
Here are some amazing points that come from Professor Warburton’s presentation.
On average Australian teenagers, spend 5.5 hours on recreational screen use per day.
The excessive use of screens, triggers the same centres in the brain that causes addiction to opioids, alcohol, methamphetamine, tobacco and gambling.
- Recreational screen use should be limited to no more than 2 hours per day.
- Before 18 months old – screens should NEVER be used by children. They have been linked to language delay and socialisation problems.
- From 18 months to 2 years old – there is evidence that screens may be of some educational benefit.
- From 2 years old to 8 years old – the things that children see on a screen CANNOT be differentiated between real and not real… there is a still a belief that monsters live under the bed.
- From 8 years – images seen on a screen create a sense of fear that what has been seen, can or could happen to the viewer or their friends.
These alarming points highlight the immaturity of the developing brain and the fragility of a childs brain. More concerning is the fact that the fears that are triggered in these developing brains affect the following very important developmental phases of a childs’ brain in preparation for the adult brain; bear in mind that a male brain is continually being remodelled till approximately age 30 years and a female brain has completed most of its modelling by age 24.
- Increases aggression and decreases compassion
- Decreases quality sleep and increases aggression
- Decreases metabolism and increases caloric intake
- Decreases the appropriate use of the bed and decreases direct contact with other humans.
Almost all studies point the idea that we need to develop a Healthy Screen Diet, that the more screen free time, the better, and that screens need to be used with caution as do ALL other addictive chemicals and behaviours.
The great news is that it is NEVER too late to develop healthier habits. Studies have shown that it can take just 3 weeks of ZERO screen time to help families detox from screens and social media. I reckon its worth a shot.I have included a link here for your reference to help you implement the recommendations from the AAP. https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/Pages/Children-and-Media-Tips.aspx
Yours in great health ,