The unhealthy relationship between children and screens
Excess screen time among children has become a common occurrence in today's world where our lives have become enslaved by technology. The gleeful interaction that used to take place when children used to see their parents at the end of the day no longer takes place. Both parties now have their noses two inches from a screen and some children even refuse to eat without their iPads in front of them.
To the parents whose households regularly see this phenomenon, are you sure you are building up your child's future in a healthy manner?
Several doctors and concerned experts have spoken out against this habit of modern-day parents, and a lot of research has been conducted to find out how prolonged exposure to screens affects children.
According to Dr Nusrat Farooq, a paediatrician at Evercare Hospital, Dhaka, the overuse of screens can result in speech development disorder or developmental language disorder (DLD). It is a communication disorder where a child's ability to speak, listen, read, and write is severely hampered. As the child grows, the brain's ability to perceive sounds and convert them into words is damaged. Thus, the child suffers from what is known as "speech delay".
A study at the University of Toronto showed that DLD was most commonly seen in children under four years of age. Similar research at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto showed that every 30 minutes of screen time among toddlers resulted in an additional 49 percent risk of them suffering from this speech disorder.
Human beings love to socialise. Kids love it when someone spends time with them by making wacky faces or playing with them. This is also an integral part of a child's growth. It helps them socialise, communicate, and be less afraid of unknown people. When they are simply handed a phone to keep themselves distracted, the various sounds and colours prevent them from noticing their surroundings. As a result, their interest in socialising gets lost.
DLD is not a short-term disorder that affects children's learning ability in their early years. It persists into adulthood.
According to the National Institute of Health in the USA, children diagnosed with DLD may struggle with reading and writing even when they are adults. Their vocabulary will be weakened, they may make grammatical errors while speaking, and they may face obstacles in maths and even in forming complete sentences.
Overall, their ability to communicate in general will be impaired. Such are the disastrous effects of casually handing over devices to children, which is something that many parents overlook quite often.
Some may argue that parents nowadays are very busy, so they always keep their children preoccupied by handing over their phones. Many parents also defend themselves by saying that the videos their children watch on YouTube are educational, as they teach important things such as sharing, practising the 3Rs, colours, etc.
However, I highly doubt how much of that information the brain of a one-year-old can absorb. Moreover, these lessons would be much more effective if they directly came from the parents or through other forms of social interactions.
Screen time is not all bad. It can be educational and provide entertainment when no one can spend time with a child. But it is imperative to limit the exposure of a child to screens.
Today's children are the leaders of tomorrow. They will lead us into the future where technology will rule all. To safeguard their tomorrow, we must protect them today from the dangers of digital screens.
The author is a student of class ten at Sunbeams School.