The Death of Playtime? Children Spend More Time with Screens than Toys

The Death of Playtime? Children Spend More Time with Screens than Toys

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Playing is a natural and enjoyable way for children to stay active, healthy, and happy. Freely chosen play supports healthy growth in children and adolescents. From birth to adolescence, kids need a variety of unstructured play experiences to maintain their physical and mental health and develop life skills.

Playing has numerous benefits for children and young people, including better cognitive, physical, social, and emotional health. Through play, children learn about themselves and the world around them. They also acquire skills that are essential for building relationships, succeeding in jobs, and excelling in studies, such as confidence, self-esteem, social interaction, resilience, independence, curiosity, and the ability to manage difficult circumstances.

Due to prolonged Covid-19 lockdowns and concerns about health risks outside, people in India, including children, have been cooped up indoors, watching TV, using laptops, and using mobile phones excessively. Even young toddlers are spending alarmingly high amounts of time on screens and using their phones. Indian preschoolers and children significantly exceed the recommended screen time limits set by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, and the World Health Organization (WHO).

India has become the largest mobile user in Asia, with children becoming the new mobile phone consumers due to easy access to the Internet and smartphones.

Impact of excessive screen time on children’s physical health

Sitting in front of screens for prolonged periods can cause a lack of physical activity, leading to obesity, poor posture, and eye strain. Moreover, the blue light emitted from screens can disrupt the body’s natural sleep cycle, making it harder for children to fall asleep at night.

To counteract these detrimental effects, it’s crucial to encourage children to engage in physical activities and limit their screen time. Allocate time for outdoor play, enroll them in sports or dance classes, or simply take a walk together.

Impact of excessive screen time on children’s mental health

While screens can provide entertainment and educational opportunities, studies have linked too much screen time to anxiety, depression, and even addiction.

To promote good mental health, it’s important to limit screen time and encourage other activities. Engage in creative activities like drawing or painting, play board games, or read books together. Also, be mindful of the content that children consume on screens and set limits on social media use to prevent negative impacts on their self-esteem.

Also Read: 6 ways to keep students and teachers motivated and happy as they get back to schools

Impact of excessive screen time on children’s social skills

Excessive screen time can have negative impacts on children’s social and cognitive development. Lack of face-to-face interactions can lead to communication and socialization difficulties, while constant screen stimulation can hinder concentration and engagement in conversations.

To promote good social skills, schools should encourage children to engage in face-to-face interactions with peers and family members. Parents can suggest playdates, family outings, and set aside screen-free time for family meals. Enrolling children in activities that promote socialization, such as team sports or clubs, can also be beneficial.

Impact of excessive screen time on children’s cognitive development

While screens can offer educational opportunities, excessive screen time can hinder a child’s attention span and academic performance. Therefore, parents should limit their child’s screen time and encourage activities that promote critical thinking skills, such as puzzles, brain teasers, and educational games. Reading books together can also stimulate cognitive development by encouraging children to ask questions and express their thoughts.

Balancing screen time and playtime for kids

Finding the right balance between screen time and playtime can be challenging, but it’s crucial for a child’s development. One solution is to set aside specific times each day or week when screens are off-limits and encourage children to engage in other activities.

It’s also important to be mindful of the quality of screen time that children are getting. Educational and interactive content can be beneficial, while mindless scrolling or binge-watching can have negative effects.

Conclusion and final thoughts on the effects of screen time on children

In conclusion, it’s okay to allow children to spend some downtime using age-appropriate social media platforms, games, and movies. High-quality digital media can have several positive effects, such as improved social interaction and exposure to intellectually interesting material. However, it’s essential to set boundaries and establish sensible standards for screen usage.

By promoting a healthy balance between screen time and playtime, parents can help their children develop into well-rounded individuals. Remember, it’s never too late to start implementing sensible screen-time rules for your family.

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