Today, screens are an integral part of our daily lives: TV, smartphone, tablet, computer, game console... There's something for everyone! You have certainly seen the rapid dependence that children develop on them, they are as if hypnotized. Screens should, however, be used in moderation in order to reduce the risks associated with them while taking advantage of their good sides.
Children born between 2010 and 2024 are considered Generation Alpha , they were born to be digital. Those who have been through a long quarantine (during the 2020 pandemic lockdown) have already honed their digital habits. It is this generation that worries the most about their mental health in the face of excessive screen use.
To what risks do screens expose children?
- A lack of sleep : a child with a screen in his room sleeps less and falls asleep much later in the night. Babies are also indirectly affected by the background noise that screens cause, their sleep may be disturbed when it is essential for their growth.
- Delayed learning and social skills : A child who watched too much television in early childhood may show delays in attention, thinking, language and social skills in their preschool years. Parents' over-reliance on screens causes them to miss precious moments of interacting with their child and helping them learn.
- Health problems : overweight, obesity, fatigue, headaches, myopia, posture problems, poor diet, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, long-term cardiovascular problems...
- Poor control of emotions and behaviors : aggressiveness, difficulty calming down alone and passivity.
- Attention difficulties: deconcentration, restlessness...
- Poor self-esteem: screens provide little sense of success, the sense of pride in a successful mission.
How to protect children from excessive use?
The screens are not bad, but they should not be abused. The challenge is therefore not to banish them, but to teach our children to manage them by setting rules of proper use from an early age. These rules must of course be defined at home, by the parents, but they must also be taught at school.
- Limit the time of exposure to screens : the goal is to involve the child in a process of self-regulation in order to make him independent and limit his risk of losing control in adulthood.
- Take an interest in their digital practice : establish a dialogue to share their discoveries with them. This consists of talking with them about what they discover through the screens to help them develop their narrative intelligence. But it is also a question of supporting them in the choice of programs and games. The greatest danger is to leave a child alone in front of the screens.
- Determine together areas without screens in your home: it's important to keep meals and other family gatherings screen-free, it promotes discussion and strengthens family bonds.
- Determine times without screens: on a daily basis, turn off the screens at specific times. Whether it's during meal times, before going to bed, when you wake up in the morning, during car journeys, with an exception for long journeys for example, determine what your moments will be without screens. Set up playtime without screens, coloring for example. Our Coloritable is ideal for this kind of situation.
What are the positives of screens?
Screens aren't just negatives, of course, but they should be used in moderation.
According to several experts, applications would be a better learning tool than television programs or videos because of their interactivity. In fact, the child would be more stimulated with these since he can perform certain actions there, such as choosing, pointing, clicking, drawing and photographing. Interactive apps for learning to read also help children identify sounds and learn new words. Therefore, high-quality applications will diversify the source of stimulation for children.
As far as television is concerned, quality youth programming promotes the development of positive attitudes, such as respect for differences. High-quality content will also help with language development in children ages 2 and up.
Even video games can have educational benefits if they are well chosen and age appropriate. For example, they promote the development of logical, visual and spatial skills, as well as problem-solving skills.
The presence of an adult alongside the child is strongly recommended when using the screens, in fact the child will learn more. Comment on his efforts to pass a level or discuss with him what is happening on the screen in order to enrich his experience. Despite the possible educational benefits of screens, know that it is still difficult for your child to use screens in their everyday life to learn. Therefore, for the development of toddlers and children, it is best to accompany them when using screens and to promote activities in which they can touch and manipulate objects and interact with others.