In some respects, raising children nowadays is easier than it used to be in. However, there are other challenges that today’s parents have to face, from streets being less safe even for older children to technology and the effects of screen time on children. Even though we have more smart gadgets to make our lives easier, parents still need to put a lot of energy into supervising children and preventing bad habits related to technology use.
Researchers found that kids in the US average about seven-and-a-half hours per day of screen time, according to PhD candidate Tassia Oswald of the University of Adelaide. While there wasn’t a great deal of data on how much time Australian kids spend in front of screens, Ms Oswald said Australian kids were believed to have similar screen habits to US children. These figures are worrisome, and while allowing screen time buys parents some leisure time or a couple of hours of quietness every day, the side effects are far worse.
The effects of too much screen time for young kids
- Affects their overall development
The time spent looking at screens is lost time, a time when children miss the opportunity of exercising outdoors or playing together. Moreover, screen time has been shown to affect brain development. According to a study, children who spent more than two hours a day on screen activities scored lower on language and thinking tests. Spending more than seven hours a day of screen time affected the brain’s cortex, the area responsible for reasoning and critical thinking.
- Causes sleep problems
Using screens can affect how quickly your child falls asleep and how long your child sleeps. The culprit seems to be blue light, a short wavelength type of light that plays an important role as a regulator of the sleep-wake cycle. Blue light promotes alertness and performance, and using devices’ blue light before bed will cause you to have trouble falling asleep. Moreover, this type of light supresses the production of melatonin, the hormone that creates the feeling of sleepiness.
There is also the problem of the addiction that screens cause. Your child may be tempted to stay up late to play games, chat with friends, or watch videos. It is recommended to avoid screen time in the hour before bed; parents should encourage reading or quiet play instead.
- Impacts mental health
Have you ever seen families and friends interacting more with their phones than with each other? The screen addiction problem is very serious, and some people can’t take their eyes off their screens even when driving or walking.
We all know we lose focus because we check our phones too often, but how does excessive screen time affect us emotionally? Too much screen time has been shown to cause anxiety, depression, and feelings of loneliness in kids. Increasing screen time was linked to lower psychological well-being, and people who are high users of screen were more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety or depression. Interactive screen time such as social media, texting, and gaming is even more likely to cause compulsive use, despite the socialisation it promotes.
- Lower grades in school
The majority of children and teenagers have replaced doing homework and pleasure reading with using the Internet or playing computer games. Too much screen time affects school performance; in primary-aged kids, language and math abilities were affected, even if activities such as gaming were shown to improve motor skills and spatial abilities.
A study of kids of 8 to 11 years of age revealed an association between heavy screen time and poorer reading performance and numeracy.
Not enough outdoor or physical activity due to spending too much time watching screens can lead to weight problems. Associations between screen time and obesity have been made since the 1980s, but obesity levels in kids have soared in the last years with the increase in the use of handheld media devices. Screens have caused a shift from an active life to a more sedentary one, with harmful habits such as spending time indoors to watch TV, frequent snacking, having more exposure to food advertisements, and getting less sleep.
The nature of our lifestyles makes it impossible to get away from digital screens, but what we can do to reduce the effects of screen time on children is to decrease screen time to moderate levels. Reducing the duration of screen time and regulating usage will reverse negative trends and ensure the long-term health of your child.
Activities that can replace screens
When screens are such a big part of our lives today, it is hard to escape the effects of screen time on children. The solution is to encourage new hobbies that don’t involve watching a screen and offering healthy alternatives such as:
- Activities books and puzzles
Kids colouring & activity books provide benefits such as representing an attractive alternative to screen time, the child feeling engaged and satisfied after completing a puzzle, fostering pleasant early-reading experiences, improving comprehension skills, increasing knowledge, and having a fun activity with parents.
Activity books for kids help you fulfil your child’s developmental needs as they help improving fine motor skills, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. They will also ease stress and anxiety in kids, as they give them a space where they can relax and reset their mind.
- Board games
Board games are important both for the mental and social development of your child. They benefit kids’ brains while also offering them little life lessons. Board games promote special family time and teaches them teamwork, patience, and winning or losing gracefully.
Other advantages of board games are boosting language and numeracy skills, exercising memory (players need to remember multiple pieces of information), sharpening focus, lengthening attention spans, soothing anxiety, and learning how to unplug. They are the exact opposite of devices and will counteract the bad effects of screen time on children.
- Playing outdoors
Children can reap many benefits from playing outdoors, such as reducing the risk of myopia, exposure to natural light which improves health and mental performance, increasing the level of physical activity, hands-on learning about physical phenomena, reducing stress levels, improving mood, learning social skills, and developing a lifelong connection with nature. Spending time outdoors speeds up recovery from stress. It’s no wonder kids are notoriously hard to get back into the house after spending time outside!
Organised sports represent a rite of passage for many children and develop their physical and social skills. Benefits of sports include better vision, keeping their weight between healthy limits, motor skills development, social skills development, sportsmanship, and improving self-confidence. Parents need to find a sport their child is interested in, fits their abilities, and is safe for participants.
- Arts and crafts
Even our ancestors were no strangers to various forms of art due to the deep cathartic effect they have on the human mind. The benefits of arts and craft are often forgotten by parents who resort to technology to keep their kids quiet. Some of the benefits your child can have from doing arts and crafts are improving fine motor skills, enabling them to express themselves, encouraging critical thinking, cultivating their creativity, and creating a sense of achievement. Arts and crafts are among the first activities that parents start doing with children and are suitable for any age from 0 to 99+!
Why Busy Nippers Activities Books
While the range of activities your children can choose between as an alternative to screen time is huge, it can be hard to find the one that provides a quick fix and doesn’t require hard work from parents. Children activity packs like the ones from Busy Nippers are the favourite of thousands of Australian parents for the following reasons:
- No mess
While arts and crafts have benefits unmatched by any other activity, they may not be suitable in a crisis moment when you need a fast and effective solution to keep children occupied. Kids activity packs don’t require a lot of preparation and extensive clean-up after.
- Can be done anywhere
Many of the moments when parents need a time-out happen outside their homes, such as when you are running an errand or trying to drink your coffee in peace. You can take kids colouring & activity books anywhere with you and offer them when you need an hour of silence.
- Don’t have to source craft materials
Book and colouring crayons are supplied for every one of our activity books for kids, which means you have a complete kit anytime you opt for Busy Nippers.
- Promoting self-sufficiency
The reason why electronic devices are so widely used is that once you give your child the tablet or smartphone you can finally have a break. Kids activity packs enable you to relax and watch your kid doing an engaging activity without requiring your help and constant supervision.
- Range of activities and puzzles included in each pack
You can’t get bored with our activity packs because they are among the most diverse on the Australian market!
- Good for business
Busy Nippers children activity packs are not only suitable for home but great for businesses who want a family friendly environment.
Children are the top factor when choosing a certain business because they will prefer some places instead of others. Kids will be attracted by spaces where they can retreat safely in a kid-friendly corner and have access to toys and activity books. Businesses who focus on keeping customers’ children entertained manage to create and maintain a loyal base of clientele, because everybody wins, from businesses to customers and their kids.
Children activity packs are suitable for a variety of businesses, such as restaurants, cafes, hotels and accommodation, clubs, health services, travel and transport, and events and promotion.
Choose Busy Nippers to create a healthy alternative to screen time and also to enjoy benefits such as multiple options, fast 24/7 ordering, no delays, loyalty programs, personalisation, and offering various retail solutions. Contact us today and contribute to children’s healthy development and the effects of screen time on children!