HEALTH section / Words from the Doc': Stop screens for our children!


Nowadays, children are exposed to screens from a very young age, whether it is television, tablets, smartphones or even computers. A Public Health study was published last April and alerts us: on average, it is 56 minutes at 2 years old, 1 hour 20 minutes at 3 and a half years old and 1 hour 34 minutes at 5 and a half years old. It's too much, too much! For what ? What are the risks for our children and what should we do?

What parent hasn't taken advantage of the easy babysitting of the phone or tablet. 15 minutes for a shower, 30 minutes to prepare dinner, 1 hour for a quiet little restaurant. Then habits set in and very quickly, we lose control. Then come the tears, the screams, the anger because we try to say stop. So we give in a little, a lot and the door opens to addiction. Removing a screen from a child who watches it for several hours a day is akin to weaning. Finally we convince ourselves that it is not so serious and even that with the right content, our child learns new things.


The risks and consequences

Unfortunately, today, studies are clear, the effects of screens on the brain are worrying. These are academic results that drop due to difficulty concentrating, memorizing and solving problems with, as a result, hyperactivity and attention disorders. Light from screens disrupts sleep hormones and the body's day-night rhythm because blue light from screens (LED) stimulates the eyes 100 times more than white light. Sleep is of poor quality and prevents the child from recovering and digesting new information. It is therefore permanent fatigue, a lack of enthusiasm, nightmares, nocturnal awakenings and fatigue which follow. Finally, time spent in front of screens increases the risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease because children move and socialize less.

Exposure to screens disrupts children's emotional health. They may be exposed to age-inappropriate content, such as violent images or adult topics, leading to anxiety, depression and stress. The television in the background is the most dangerous screen for early development and interactions. This massive exposure in quantity and poor quality affects parent/child relationships.


Well-established preconceived ideas

It is easy to believe that so-called educational videos promote development and learning such as language, for example. Once again it's the opposite, two hours a day looking at screens between 1 and 4 years old increases the probability of seeing a delay in language development appear by three, and by six for children before 1 year old. Children are less creative and imaginative because their brains don't have to work to create ideas and stories. This is precious time lost to our children's developmental phases and once these learning phases have passed, it is very difficult if not impossible to get them back.


How to do ? Being bored is good for your health.

It is important to encourage physical and social activities, and provide opportunities for creativity and imagination. Parents can encourage their children to read books, listen to stories, play board games and participate in craft activities or just let them be bored. Children who have been heavily exposed to screens will continue this habit as adults and will have difficulty changing direction.


The 3-6-9-12 rule:

No screen before 3 years, these are the basic recommendations from the WHO and health organizations.

Between 3 and 6 years old: shared screen, it is the role of the parent to authorize and regulate the duration (1 hour max at 6 years old).

From 6 to 9 years old, creative awakening thanks to digital tools. It is interaction and sharing that must take precedence.

From 9 to 12 years old: control to better protect. Pre-teens and teens are addicted to social media and screens. Banning them is illusory: it is better to discuss and control the exposure time. The key is to not leave screens in the bedroom after bed. Young people's sleep is precious and many of them continue to chat on social networks once the door is closed.

Leaving a child in front of screens can amount to abuse. Let's take care of them and future generations. _FS


For further :

Public health France: screen time from 2 to 5 years


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