As a long-term strategy, it leaves much to be desired.
As we mentioned above, a child’s visual processing system is still significantly developing before the age of 2, and final development isn’t reached until 8 or 9 years old.
We’ve all been fooled by the “what color is white light? The blue light of natural sunlight does some great things for our body.
It boosts attention, reaction times and mood, and it suppresses melatonin (the hormone that regulates your circadian rhythms and makes you sleepy when it increases) so you can be awake and alert during your active hours. When your body is supposed to be winding down for sleep, however, it’s another story.
In many ways screens have changed our lives for the better.
If it gives off electromagnetic radiation in the visual spectrum, it’s a screen.
The four year old is clearly fed up with sitting, and starts to complain, jump on her seat or run around. It’s a scene we see repeated in doctors’ waiting rooms, supermarkets, public transportation… (Although the policy indicates that the educational benefits for children under the age of 24 months are low, and come mainly from parent interaction with the child, and not from the media itself.)While the original policy of the AAP called for children older than 5 to be viewing no more than 2 hours of media daily, the updated 2016 recommendations explains that in today’s world, when media is everywhere, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work.
But a few moments later, she’s quietly in her seat again, enabling her parents and older siblings to enjoy a peaceful meal and conversation for the next 30 minutes. and while we entirely understand it, it also saddens us. Families need to make themselves aware of the risks and benefits of media use, and create individualized plans for their children, including enough sleep and physical exercise.
You, as a parent, have an even more powerful role to play.
Night-time exposure to LED-illuminated devices (most of the screens out there today: computers, tablets, phones, flat screen TVs, e-readers, video games) suppresses melatonin and disrupts the natural sleep cycle.
This Scientific American article describes the following study where volunteers spent several evenings reading for a prolonged period of time before a 10PM imposed bedtime. Those who used e-readers took longer to fall asleep, had less REM sleep and felt sleepier and less alert for hours after they woke up in the morning – even if they had gotten the same amount of sleep.
It’s still unclear exactly what the effects of media exposure with its rapid-fire changes are for a developing system.
There is a concern, however, that repeated incidents of super-busy processing during stages of development could cause permanent changes in the processing pace that the brain seeks.