Mommy, please don’t take my Ipad!!!
Today, cell phones and Ipads seem to be replacing pacifiers, stuffed animals and toys as emotional security blankets. Too many tantrums are happening when children are told to put away the cell phone and Ipad. Ever think about the impact of all that screen time on a child’s developing brain?
TECHNOLOGY & THE BRAIN
Research shows too much screen time decreases grey matter in the brain, thus decreasing a child’s ability to plan, prioritize, organize information, complete tasks and negatively affects impulse control (Zou 2011, Yuan 2011, Yuan, 2011, Weng, 2013 and Weng, 2012); along with creating spotty white matter resulting in a loss of communication between both brain hemispheres and connections between higher cognitive functions and lower emotional brain centers (Lin 2012, Yuan 2011, Hong 2013 and Weng 2013).
Brains are organs of experience. How can we expect children to trust themselves and others if they are not given continued opportunities to engage in reciprocal face to face communication? Children need to run, jump, chase each other in the backyard, twirl, throw water balloons, blow bubbles and engage in play activities to strengthen connections between their minds, bodies and emotions.
The American Academy of Pediatrics acknowledges there is some cognitive, literacy and social benefits to programs like Sesame Street, however they believe unstructured social play and responsive parent-child interactions are best for developing higher thinking functions such as follow through, impulse control, emotion regulation and creative, flexible thinking.
Next time you are tempted to allow Ipad time, ask yourself the following questions:
1. How much time has my child spent looking at a screen today? This may include a computer, cell phone, Ipad, tv, educational movie or tv program.
2. Have you played with your child today? This may involve blowing and popping bubbles, water balloon fights, tag, working on a puzzle, drawing a picture, singing, having a battle with Darth Vader, building a Leggo tower or playing with Barbies.
If yes, for how long? If not, why?
3. How many hours have you spent looking at a screen since you came home from work? This includes computer, tv, Ipad or phone. What messages are you giving your children about the use of technology in your daily lives?
Until next time!
Sara Minges, LPC