SCREEN WEANING 

Is Your Child Glued to a Gadget?

Research is showing us that unless we can help children reduce screen time we may be setting them up with bad habits that could take a lifetime of hard work to break.

Children’s behaviour is known to become agitated due to being highly stimulated with over use of technology.

 Their sleep, appetite, cognitive functioning, emotions and moods can be affected and they can become less able to relate to, and empathise with others.

The World Health Organisation have suggested different screen time caps for different age groups. Parents have found it surprising that ZERO hours screen time is advised for children under 2 years.

However,  more and research is emerging showing that spending ANY time in front of screens can be detrimental:

Digital Dementia?

Recently German researchers: Supper and Teuchert-Noodt, in their study published June 2021 have proven that children’s working memory is affected with increased phone use. Tests were set up for a number of children and the findings were that they were less able to recall the information they had learnt only 20 minutes earlier! The negative impact on a child’s brain from even a short amount of time looking at screens cannot be over-emphasised.

Author and neurologist, Manfred Spitzer notes that younger children are now relying on technology for play activities which greatly limit the “challenges” that aid their sensory and motor development. He found that this had a negative impact on the imagination, creative intuitive and the right side of the brain which deals with emotions. Emotional disturbances leading to depression in those who over-use technology were also mentioned.

Children who are highly stimulated by, and who over-use technology also have their ability to relate to, and empathise with others impaired……..Imagine the social impact!

Writer, Victoria Dunckley (2015) has found that the solution for the over-use of screens are digital fasts” to enable the nervous system to “reset”, which should improve sleep and to help encourage more “face to face” contact.

Meanwhile Dr Meghan Owens from screenfreeparenting.com suggests reducing technology at four times of the day to help “screen weaning” –  Bed Time, Before School, Meal Times and in the Car.

Wireless Technology

Did you know that there are NO safety studies showing that microwave radiation exposure from wireless internet (wi-fi) in children is safe? In fact independent studies show that harmful microwave radiation emitted from mobile phones, mobile masts, cordless phones and wi-fi routers penetrate proportionally deeper into the brains of children aged 5 and 10, compared to adults brains (Gandhi et al. 1996.)

Organisations such as the EHTrust.org emphasise that there are quick and easy ways to reduce microwave radiation exposure to children at home by hardwiring wi-fi using an ethernet cable, limiting time spent on gadgets and switching off at the mains when not in use.Their handy guides are a helpful aid to cutting down microwave exposure.

Please CLICK HERE or use the link below to see this and other info sheets. 

EHTrust.org printable resources
 
 

 

 

 

Solutions!

Did you know that something as simple as play can help?! Research has shown that simple activities can be used to repair some of the damage caused by screens. When used repeatedly, daily, sensory inputs help to calm the lower brain systems and provide a foundation for social connection, engagement and higher-level thinking (reason). Examples of sensory inputs include:

  • Trampolining, swimming, most sports,
  • Reading
  • Singing
  • Storytelling
  • Board games
  • Dancing
  • Drawing, painting or “messy play”
  • Reading books and
  • Non-directed play
Play therapists, Filial therapists and Parent-Child Attachment Play practitioners can help provide advice to parents and care-givers on providing therapeutic and creative interventions for children.  
  

Green and Blue Spaces – More Solutions!

The UK Government recognise that being in nature and close to water sources has been scientifically proven to bring health and well-being benefits to all. Those who spend time out doors with children can see with their own eyes how younger and older children can benefit from easy access to a host of sensory and tactile play things from nature’s free toolbox. Natural immune boosting mood enhancers are found in abundance, (ie plants and flowers) while trees themselves release a feel good chemical which has an essential oil-like effect bringing calmness and lifting moods. Simple things such as sitting or lying on the earth helps self-regulation, calming the body’s lower brain systems. Being in nature, enables children to take a break from using digital devices and helps them to be fully present in the here and now! It’s even better if you have wellies and waterproofs and can go outside whatever the weather. If organised activities are more your child’s thing, find out how to join a Forrest School or outdoor group in your area.

  • If your child’s behaviour is continuing to be challenging due to their time online, contact Sarah to discuss a series of Play Therapy sessions. (See details at the bottom of the page.)
  • For Parent Child Attachment Play information please CLICK HERE
  • For more information on all the above please see my News Blog article on Children and Young People’s Mental health During and After the Pandemic: CLICK HERE
  • For a fact sheet on Screen Time: CLICK HERE                
                                         
 
 
References and links below: 
  1. https://creative-me-playtherapy.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Children-and-Young-Persons-Mental-Health-During-and-After-the-Pandemic.pdf 
  2. https://www.allprodad.com/5-dangers-of-distracted-parenting/   
  3. https://www.clear-sky.org.uk/ see for PCAP Practitioners.         
  4. https://ehtrust.org/resources-to-share/printable-resources/ https://www.emf-portal.org/en/ study overviews . 
  5. Spitzer, M. (2012). Demencia Digital. Ediciones.                                                      
  6. Dunckley, V. L. (2015). Screentime-is-making-kids-moody-crazy-and-lazy. Psychology Today [Online] Blog.
  7. https://www.psychologytoday.com/  gb/blog/mental-wealth/201508/screentime-is-makingkids-moody-crazy-and-lazy    
  8. https://familyman.movember.com/articles/screen-time.                          
  9. Macairt, K.  LandPlay  See “Creative Spark.”                       
  10. https://playtherapy.org.uk/  
  11. https://www.saferemr.com/2019/07/recent-research.html 
  12. https://www.screenfreeparenting.com                                                                                    
  13. McDaniel, B.,  Radesky, J. “Technoference” (2018) doi:10.1038/s41390-018-0052-6.                                                                  
  14. Serra, G., Lo Scalzo, L., Giuffrè, M. et al. Smartphone use and addiction during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic: cohort study on 184 Italian children and adolescents. Ital J Pediatr 47, 150 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13052-021-01102-8.                                        
  15.  Soga, M., Gaston, K.” Extinction of experience: the loss of human–nature interactions” (2016) Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. https://doi.org/10.1002/fee.1225.                                                                  
  16.  Supper A, Teuchert-Noodt G. “How learning doesn’t work” Children evaluate their cell phone use – An empirical pilot study. Neurol Neurosci. 2021; 2(2):1-9.
  17. Wentworth, J., & Clarke, C. (2016). Green Space and Health. POST-PN-0538. https://re- searchbriefings.parliament.uk/Research- Briefing/Summary/POST-PN-0538

Additional Reading

  • Safe Schools Information Technology Alliance –
    https://ssita.org.uk/ information on enabling children’s environments to be safer.
  • The World Health Organisation on Gaming Disorder
    (2018) https://www.who.int/news-room/q-adetail/addictive-behaviours-gaming-disorder.
  • http://wifiinschools.org.uk/. A website aiming to provide more information about the
    science and calls from doctors and scientists for greater protection of children and staff in schools.
  • http://wiredchild.org/ Helping reduce the risks from using mobile phones, cordless phones, wi-fi and other
    wireless products.   
     

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