Screens and devices have taken over our world, to the extent that it isn’t always possible to regulate screen time. When it comes to young children, it has always been advised to exercise caution regarding the amount of time spent on screen. Studies over the years have highlighted both positive and negative effects of screen time, but the latter has always outweighed former which calls for parents to monitor their children’s unhealthy relationship with screens. A new study published in Nature Human Behaviour analyses previously published meta-analyses to assess the benefits and risks associated with screen time for children, in order to provide caregivers some valuable insights. (Also read: Experts on harmful effects of social media overuse in teens, suggest ideal screen time)
Weighing in the positives and negatives of screen time
The study found that the nature of the interaction between children and the digital screen was important to consider when seeing whether screen time is considered harmful or beneficial to the child’s health.
The study noted that while certain digital interventions had positive effects on learning and education, several social media platforms can have adverse effects on mental health, particularly among younger population. The study also found associations between screen time and mental health issues, such as depression, which also aligns with the cautionary advice from the U.S. Surgeon General.
Can watching television or playing videos be beneficial?
How children get screen time can also determine whether it turns out to be useful or harmful for them. The study noted that while watching television was associated with poor learning outcomes, children who watch television with their parents and caregivers availed benefits from their screen time.
In case of video games, the study noted that negative association has been found between playing these games and educational outcomes, however certain educational video games helped in positive association with numeracy outcomes and learning motivation.
Overall, the research emphasized that both the content and the context of screen engagement play crucial roles in influencing individual outcomes. With a more careful approach, benefits from screen time can be derived under certain appropriate conditions.
So, parents must make sure children enjoy selective screen time under their supervision that also help shape their brain and personality. However, it’s like watching a tight rope as excessive screen time can adversely impact brain and development in these young minds.