Health professionals and early childhood experts have published a warning to alert parents about the dangers of allowing children to engage in intensive screen use (watching television, going on the computer or a tablet, etc.). Overuse of screens exposes our little ones to serious health risks. Read on to find out what they are.
Attention, language, behaviour: screen use leads to several problems
Doctors, health professionals and early childhood experts wanted to highlight the serious risks related to attention and behaviour problems. According to the experts, these problems are on the rise, especially among younger children.
Even among developmentally healthy children, doctors are observing problems similar to those seen in autism: language delays at 4 years old, social problems or attention problems. For example, the child doesn’t react when they are called, or could have difficulty keeping their gaze on an object being handed to them, unless it is a device with a screen such as a smartphone or a tablet.
Their attention is often either consumed or interrupted by the presence of screens lit up around them. Young children’s exploration of objects in the world that surrounds them can be disrupted, which prevents the brain from developing normally.
These disruptions to children’s concentration, which is normally dedicated to exploration, are leading to language and developmental delays being observed in children, in the absence of any neurological deficiencies.
One solution: the rule of 3-6-9-12
The 3-6-9-12 rule, invented by psychiatrist Serge Tisseron in 2008, provides four age related guidelines:
- no screens for children under 3
- no video games for children under 6
- no unsupervised internet use for children under 9
- no social networking for children under 12
Health professionals recommend that children’s exposure to screens is limited as much as possible. According to paediatricians, one hour per day is the maximum recommended amount for children aged from three to five years old.
Furthermore, it is recommended that parents monitor and control what children are doing on screens, and that they even engage in their screen activities jointly with them, in order to explain certain important things. It is also up to parents to use their own screen use to set an example.