By: Dr Prabhjeet Singh Narula : It takes around 18 months for a baby’s brain to develop to the point where the symbols on a screen come to represent their equivalents in the real world.
With the advancement of mobile phone technology, growing demand of mobile phones and other tech gadgets are considerably harming the younger generation, especially children below 5 years of age. Parents should realize that if they want their children to stop using mobile phones, they themselves have to abstain themselves first from using one. They need to alter their parenting strategies and try to arrange outings for their children and engage them in physical activities to boost their physical and mental health.
Doctors say that over-exposure has an impact on attention span and concentration, as well as appetite control. Screen time encourages a more sedentary lifestyle. Babies should be encouraged to explore the world physically and toddlers need to be active for three hours a day to grow healthily. A toddler learns a lot more from banging pans on the floor while parents cook dinner than he does from watching a screen for the same amount of time, because every now and then the two look at each other.
Numerous surveys have consistently shown that children who have been exposed to rising amounts of screen time in recent years, have parents struggling with the challenges of managing the moods and time demands of their young ones. Many of the popular channels on YouTube, for example, feature nursery rhymes, simplistic games and other content that appeal to preschoolers. The major concern following is that the compelling effects of such videos keep young children from connecting with their parents and other care givers which a key facet in building the social skills that are central to child’s holistic development.
As per World Health Organization (WHO) latest guidelines “Children under five must spend less time sitting watching screens, or restrained in prams and seats, get better quality sleep and have more time for active play if they are to grow up healthy.” These new guidelines for children under 5 years of age were developed by a WHO panel of experts. Improving physical activity, reducing sedentary time and ensuring quality sleep in young children will improve their physical, mental health and wellbeing, and help prevent childhood obesity and associated diseases later in life.
These guidelines recommend that infants under one year of age should be “physically active several times a day in a variety of ways; particularly through interactive floor-based play. And infants should not be restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (e.g. prams/strollers, high chairs, or strapped on a caregiver’s back). Screen time is not recommended. When sedentary, engaging in reading and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged.”
Approximately 5 million deaths globally across all age groups are recorded as a failure to meet these current physical activity recommendations. And, at present, over 23% of adults and 80% of adolescents are not sufficiently physically active. “What we really need to do is bring back play for children. Quality sedentary time spent in interactive non-screen-based activities with a caregiver, such as reading, storytelling, singing and puzzles, is very important for child mental development” says Dr Juana Willumsen, WHO focal point for childhood obesity and physical activity.
(Dr Prabhjeet Singh Narula , Psy Signs – Psychological Health Clinic)