In the present times, screen time has been an important part of everyone’s life. The new normal has shifted everything online, be it work, school, or just meeting friends. Even though we know that much screen time is harmful to us, we can’t seem to do much about it because of its very justified uses like school and work.
The justified use of screen time in devoting hours to online learning makes it all the worse. Classes now take place online; assignments need to be done online. This gives kids little time to rest their eyes and the justified use sometimes makes us blind to the harmful effects of increased screen time.
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No matter how justly children spend their time in front of screens, it can still be very harmful to them. Below stated are some of the harmful effects of increased screen time.
● Pressure on Eyes: Exposure to screens can cause harmful pressure on the eyes. Staring on a screen for a long time creates pressure on the eyes that can lead to blurred vision or even retina damage.
● Loss of Sleep: Engaging one in front of screens for a long time before sleeping can lead to sleep deprivation. It can lead to falling asleep at odd hours of the day, ending up altering your sleep schedule.
● Risk of Obesity: Sitting in front of a screen for a long time means sitting idle for a long time. This decrease in the movement of the body, and basic exercises, can lead to obesity, further risking chronic diseases that result from obesity.
● Mental Health: Increased screen time can also take a toll on children’s mental health. Such children lose the power to interact socially and aren’t able to register and process their emotions, leading up to depression.
Yes, depression doesn’t occur in adults alone.
Childhood is often regarded as a period when one is free from all kinds of stress and blues. It is regarded as a period of carefree living and happiness. Sadness, people believe, is seldom a part of childhood. But that is not always the case. Children too can be susceptible to mental health. They too can fall prey to depression due to a variety of reasons, increased screen time being one of them.
Before we delve into the relationship between increased screen time and depression, into the symptoms that can help us identify depression in children. Here are some of the common depression symptoms.
· Social withdrawal
· Constant feelings of sadness
· Getting irritable or angry easily
· Increase or decrease in appetite
· Deprivation or excess of sleep
· Frequent outbursts of crying
· Concentrating problems
· Physical complaints that don’t seem to get treated
· More sensitive to rejection
These are signs of depression that must be tackled with care on the side of the parents.
As mentioned above, depression isn’t limited to adults alone and can be affecting people of all ages, from young children to old grandparents. In childhood, depression can be a result of different reasons like academic pressure, psychosocial impairment, low self-esteem, the environment around the children, etc.
Time and again, different studies have proved that increased screen time is a cause of depression in kids and adolescents. An increased screen time can be harmful to a child’s mental health and might lead to depression, the following ways.
● Deprivation of Sleep: As discussed above, engaging one in front of screens for a long time, especially before going to bed, can have adverse effects on the quality and duration of sleep. As a result, children sleep for a lesser time than required. This can lead to different mental health issues, including anxiety and depression.
● Low Self-Esteem: Nowadays children are often a part of social media. The world of social media can be dangerous as it results in issues of low self-esteem in people, especially children. The constant comparison on social media with other people can make them feel inferior, leading ultimately to depression.
● Lack of Social Interaction: Humans are after all social beings. And online classes alone cannot make up for the lack of social interaction in children. Spending the day alone, without the company of friends and just indulged in playing games or watching movies brings on feelings of loneliness, again leading to depression.
Adults, especially parents, are always affected by the happenings with their children. Children are believed to be the light of the family. They are the ones that keep spreading the positive energy in tough times mostly because they are too innocent to understand the graveness of situations and go on to make the situation lighter without even realizing it.
When the children are battling something as hard as depression, it also impacts the adults around them. To begin with, the susceptible mental health takes away the jolly, happy-go-lucky nature of the kids. They are no more the ray of light that they used to be. And that is hard to see for the people constantly around them.
Then again, depression in childhood can be a traumatizing experience for children and for the people around them as they are constantly viewing the changes in the kids. This makes it difficult for the adults to concentrate on their work as well. The atmosphere in the family gets affected due to the sadness on the faces of the family members.
● Talk to Them: A heart-to-heart talk is always very effective. Sit down next to them and talk to them. Let them know that they are loved. Let them know that they are better than their marks, that academics do not alone define who they are. Most importantly, help them decode why they are feeling in a certain way.
● Reduce Screen Time: Take measures to reduce screen time for kids. You can start with setting a time tracker when they sit down to play a game or watch TV. In case of prolonged hours of online learning, speak to the teacher to incorporate a routine that gives children enough breaks in between the learning sessions.
● Screen Detox: A detox from the digital world can do wonders for both physical and mental well-being. Taking a break from social media helps to stay away from the trolls and bullies online and keeps self-esteem in check. Introduce them to fun games and activities if they complain of getting bored without technology.
● Mental Health Awareness: It is important to make children aware of the basics of mental health. Educate them about the importance of mental health, of the practices that can help them to keep their mental health in check. Explain to them that deteriorating mental health is nothing uncommon and can always be revived.
Also read: Is there a Link Between Screen Time and Anxiety?