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Potential Dangers of Technology Overuse by Toddlers

Friday, December 15, 2017

In today's environment, is it not uncommon for parents to use electronic devices to entertain or occupy their toddlers and young children. How many times have you gone into a restaurant or waiting room and witnessed children intently watching videos or playing games on a phone or tablet? Are we helping or harming our children? The answer may be both. While there certainly are educational programs and applications that may prove beneficial and enhance learning, overuse can cause some problems.

Consider the following...

1. Overuse of electronic devices can cause a lack of movement or exercise for children. If they spend hours in front of a screen after school or on the weekends instead of playing outside with other kids, they are at a higher risk of becoming overweight.

2. Spending time outdoors soaking up sunlight and Vitamin D affects our circadian rhythm. Overexposure to blue light from electronic devices can also have a physical impact on our bodies. We should all spend some time outdoors in the sun. If we don't, it can affect our sleeping patterns and our mood.

3. Overstimulation is another risk of spending too much time in front of a screen. Overuse can decrease a child's ability to focus on other tasks. Children can also develop nervous habits when they are allowed a significant amount of screen time, and then it is taken away for any reason.

4. We risk thwarting our children's social and communication skills when they spend too much time alone playing video games or watching videos. They may not develop the ability to learn and act on social cues, and may become isolated when they are around other children. Psychological issues such as anxiety and depression can also develop over time.

5. Remember the days when we as children had to make up our own games and use our imaginations to fill our time. WIth so many options for children today, they don't have to be as imaginative or creative in their playtime. This can impair brain development and ultimately slow their ability to learn over time. Not to mention the issues of privacy and safety when a child spends time online.

As parents, we should be role models for our children. They often imitate what they see us doing. If we always have a device in our faces, they will want to do the same. We have to take time out to interact, play, and create human connections with our children. Set daily time limits for device use and have a specific purpose for its use. If using an educational program, limit the time to 15 or 20 minutes. Come up with alternative activities for your children. Make up games with them. Have conversations about things going on in the world. This can also apply to older children and teenagers. The more we teach our children to interact with the world around them, they better off they will be as adults.

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