Every week new studies show the consequences screen usage has on brain development. The impact on adults is adverse enough (addictions, loneliness, mental health issues). However, the real concern is on children as their brain are still developing, so what can we do?
On average, kids spend more time using screens than at school. A neuroscientist has just spent three years analysing 1500 scientific papers, and here is a summary of his findings:
- Lower IQ (compared to their parent’s generation).
- Lower ability to speak, write, memorise,concentrate and take risks.
- Reduced social skills, emotional intelligence andresilience.
- Increase in aggressive behaviour, depression,anxiety and suicide.
- More obesity, risk on cardiovascular developmentand lower life expectancy.
11 Things Adults Can Do for Children (and their Brain)
- At home, have a ‘quiet’ room, with books,physical toys and board games, but no screen.
- Reduce home lighting at night, in particular, LED/blue lights.
- When around children, don’t use your mobilephone, engage with them.
- Allow no screen time before the age of 6.Boredom is good. It will force them to be creative.
- Before they can read, let them learn skills, asopposed to trying to teach them pure knowledge.
- After the age of 6 only allow 30 to 60 minutes of screen time, but not early in the morning, at mealtimes, or before bedtime, and ideally educational content with the guidance of an adult. Software limiting daily usage can easily be hacked so they shouldn’t own a device.
- Encourage children to be as kinaesthetic as possible, write with pens. Later teach them mind maps.
- Go outside for sensory stimulation, teach about fruits, vegetables, trees, plants, birds, animals etc. use all senses (sight, sounds, smell, touch, taste).
- Use “focused attention” meditation: Look intensely at a chosen object, image, plants etc. Ask them to describe all the minute details. Later teach Mindfulness.
- Encourage activities promoting serendipity (discuss with new people, listen without talking, explore new locations, eat new food, read new magazines, visit new places etc.)
- Find schools that don’t allow mobile phones, preferably a quiet school, away from noise disturbances.
Unless recommended for therapy, don’t let children spend time in front of screens. Yes, it will be challenging at first, yes, they’ll kick and scream, telling you that you are ruining their social life, but no study has ever shown it to be true.
The good news is that parents initially worried about implementing such a drastic change, find their children adjust surprisingly quickly. Soon they’ll play or talk more, develop their creativity, and develop their brain. The earlier, the better, and they’ll thank you later.
The full version of this article is available at http://denisebosque.com/ children
Next month I’ll discuss Revision Strategies. https://www.facebook.com/ events/204219854194034/