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Too much screen time can have adverse effect on children, says child specialist

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By Henlly Phom Odyuo Updated: Jul 16, 2021 11:42 pm
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Dimapur, July 16 (EMN): The Covid-19 pandemic has forced almost everyone, especially students and children into the virtual world for various reasons including online classes and connecting with other people, but Dr. Apong Longchar, child specialist at Nikos Hospital and Research Centre in Dimapur, said too much screen time can be harmful both to the body and mind.

“Studies have proven how damaging excess screen time can be both physically and psychologically, especially to the tender developing body and mind of our children. But it has become a necessary evil and we let the screen take over, and as a parent we feel guilty for this,” Longchar said.

Stating that there are ways to use digital devices in a healthy way, he shared tips to help limit screen time and develop healthy viewing habits.

As per American Academic Paediatrics (AAP) recommendation guideline, the doctor informed that a child below 18 months should not be exposed to digital screen as this stage is a brain developing stage.

“For 18 months to two years, limit screen time and avoid solo use. Choose high quality educational programming and watch with kids to ensure understanding. For 2-5 years, limit screen time to an hour a day. Parents should watch as well to ensure understanding and application to their world. For five years and above, place consistent limits on the time spent and types of media. Don’t let screen time affect sleep, exercise or other behaviours,” the doctor advised. 

Too much screen time can have adverse impact on health like headache, eye problem, bad posture, neck pain, bone problem, weakness, obesity, sleep issue, psychological impact, violent and aggressive behaviour etc. besides being exposed to unhealthy environment like instant gratification, assessment of self worth by number of likes on social media and cyber bullying, it was informed.

Dr. Longchar explained that those who exceed the recommended screen time can have issues in learning ability and lower brain white matter integrity. People, he said, know that too much screen time is bad for children but knowingly allow them to be glued to the screens for hours.

When a child gets bored or when parents are occupied with work, parents and guardians give the mobile phones to keep them entertained, but being bored should be taken as an opportunity to let children get creative, he advised.

“Toddlers, when they are bored become fussy and clingy, so we should keep them at a safe place and keep them occupied with play things. It may not be practically possible but keeping in mind the negative impact, we should keep trying and when we repetitively give them other options when they are bored and ask for screen time, they will also learn and wean off from screen time,” he explained.

For a child below two years, brain growth is very fast and we think that if we give them educational videos, they will learn but if we give screen time there is no back and forth interaction, pause to compliment or correct on digital screen compared to a book learning, the child specialist said, adding that it is hard to compete with the high quality content and entertainment of online videos.

So, the doctor recommended setting rules to limit screen time, and strictly follow it. Avoid screen time before sleep and during meals as meal times are very important for child’s development, he added.

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By Henlly Phom Odyuo Updated: Jul 16, 2021 11:42:49 pm