Screen time is a modern world term used to describe activities done in front of a screen, such as watching TV, working on a computer, or playing video games. Screen time is a sedentary activity, which is obviously not healthy for the development of children physically. But did you know that screen time is also very unhealthy for the development of children mentally and even emotionally?
It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that watching too much TV or sitting in front of a computer for hours at a time are poor ways for young children to spend time. However, what is a bit of a surprise are the details.
A recent study published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) – and featured on CNN Health – found that children ages 3 to 5 who used media screens one or more hours per day without parental involvement had lower levels of brain development, particularly in the area of white brain matter.
That’s just one hour a day!
This area of the brain is key for the development of language, literacy, and cognitive skills. And if you think screen time is a risk for preschool age children, imagine the impact it has on infants and babies.
It is estimated that 90 percent of children are using media screens by age one. It makes practical and even economic sense. Televisions, video games, and computers are the de facto babysitters of the 21st century. It allows parents to multitask and get more done in their day, while also saving a bit of money. And while it may seem harmless enough, we’re now learning that it comes with tremendous harm.
The Result of Too Much Screen Time for Infants
Excessive screen time has been linked to numerous problems in young children. The list of detrimental effects is long and includes:
- Inability to pay attention
- Inability to think clearly
- Increase in poor eating habits
- Increase in behavioral problems
- Increase in language delay
- Poor sleep quality
- Impaired organizational skills
- Impaired ability to control behavior
- Decrease in parent/child engagement
- Poor emerging literacy skills
- Decreased ability to use expressive language
- Lower scores on cognitive skills testing
What Can Parents do to Limit Screen Time?
The simple answer is, lay down the law. However, there is still time in the day that must be occupied in some other way … in some healthier ways!
A Google search will likely yield dozens of healthy activities you can do with your young children. Here are a few suggestions:
- More reading, less watching.
- Singing, dancing, jumping around like you have ants in your pants.
- Walks at the park; with or without feeding the ducks.
- Arts and crafts time; finger painting isn’t just for kids.
- Zoos, museums, exhibits, etc.
- Take up a new hobby together.
- Board games, puzzles, building blocks, Legos, etc.
- Gardening, or just digging in the dirt for no good reason.
- Any sport or physical activity that young kids can do.
- Use your imagination … as in make up games on the fly. (You may need to follow your child’s lead on this one.)
- Anything as long as it’s quality time together not in front of a screen.
In our digital world, it will not be easy to limit or exclude media screen time in your child’s life. After all, it’s not like you can magically go back to a time when kick the can was all the rage.
Having said that, it’s recommended that no child under the age of 18 months is exposed to any screen time other than occasional video chat with friends and family. Wired and tired is no way for children to spend their instrumental formative years. Not to mention all the negative effects that could follow them for a lifetime.
The Chiropractic Correlation
While you may think that only adults and older children get chiropractic adjustments, this isn’t the case. Even newborns can benefit from regular chiropractic adjustments, as the birthing process can be physically traumatic and result in injuries or subluxations (stress on the nervous system) that goes unnoticed and unresolved.
So much of our health is dependent on the health of our nervous system, as the brain and body communicate and orchestrate all functions through that one bodily system. An overstressed nervous system often results in physical problems that can occur anywhere and seem unrelated.
With newborns, the brain stem is particularly susceptible to stress or injury. Chiropractic adjustments can relieve that stress, which allows the newborn’s brain to develop as it should.
It’s important to understand that this nervous system stress is cumulative and builds up over time. Consider how often a child falls when learning to walk or ride a bike. Or with older kids who engage in sporting activities, especially contact sports. This all places stress on the nervous system.
As young kids are spending more and more time on their cell phones, this is also contributing to text neck or forward head posture – the posture most of us take when looking down at our phones, with our necks perpetually extended downward.
All of these modern-day issues lead to poor brain development in infants and young children but also create problems later in a child’s life, like anxiety, depression, ADD/ADHD, and learning disorders.
The important takeaway in regard to chiropractic medicine is this: To achieve maximum health, your nervous system must be healthy and functioning as it should. And the number one way to keep the nervous system healthy is with regular chiropractic adjustments.
If you have an infant or young child that has been exposed to too much screen time at an early age or is exhibiting any of those conditions listed above, chiropractic adjustments are a safe and practical solution.
If you’re interested in chiropractic treatments for your youngster, contact the chiropractor who shared this article with you. If you came upon this article another way, it’s important to understand that not all chiropractors are what we call TRUCHIRO’s, they’re feeding into the misguided myth that we only treat back and neck pain.
To a find a TRUCHIRO near you, go to TRUCHIRO.org and enter your zip code into our database. If that search doesn’t yield any nearby results, contact us and I’ll help you find one in your area.