How Do Screens Affect Children's Brains?

          Screens are amazing for a lot of things, but overexposure to them can have devastating effects for children. As screen time has skyrocketed, so have cognitive and behavioral issues like ADHD.

Cognitive Risks

          JAMA Pediatrics, a highly-regarded American Medical Association publication, found that children who spent more time on screens showed less expressive language and ability to rapidly name objects, decreased literacy skills, and even physical changes to the brain.

          So how much screen time is too much? Well, the American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization recommend the following guidelines:

  • Until 18-months: No screen time.
  • Until age 5: Limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programming, co-view with your children, help them understand what they are seeing, and help them apply what they learn to the world around them.

Screen Time Has Soared During The Pandemic

          According to The New York Times, children’s screen time had doubled by May 2021 as compared with the same period in the year prior, according to Qustodio, a company that tracks usage on tens of thousands of devices used by children, ages 4 to 15, worldwide.

          And as technology continues to advance, the number of people using smartphones, both old and young, is continually increasing. Many apps and games advertise themselves as educational tools that will foster a more focused and intelligent child, but in actuality, these devices can hinder learning objectives.

          Interacting with a smart device has the potential to put your child's brain into a passive “zombie mode”. Screen content often lacks the necessary interaction to challenge kids and exercise their developing minds. 

Creates Unhealthy Expectations

          When a child interacts with a smart device, all of their gestures and actions receive instant feedback and response. You may notice that if you are reading a book to your child, they may try and swipe to the next page or click on the picture with their finger. The reason they do this is that they have grown to expect the same response from real-life objects as they do from their smart device. Games and apps all make use of colorful and alluring sound effects that act as a reward system for your child. All of their actions are reinforced and promoted which rarely happens in day-to-day life. 

How Parents Can Manage Their Kids' Screen Time

Busy parents struggle enormously to manage screen time when they're trying to balance work, some semblance of a personal or social life, and their kids. Some simple alternatives to screens parents can turn to include:

Outdoors - playing in nature! Free, fun, and healthy - getting kids active outside is the timeless, go-to screen alternative. But it's not always easy or possible to let the kids roam free out of the house.

Indoors - activity boxes, play couches, and educational audio systems. Families spend the majority of time at home so parents need to find creative yet simple solutions to keep their kids busy with quality entertainment so their kids don't just plop in front of a screen and go zombie mode. The best options are fun, engaging activities that are also healthy, such as:

  • DIY STEM project subscription boxes like Kiwico and Little Passports
  • Montessori toys like Lovevery, MontiKids, and TenLittle  
  • Play couches like FORT and Nugget 
  • An interactive audio system like Storypod

Featuring screen-free audio experiences designed to help kids grow from newborns up until they're ready for smartphones, Storypod is a unique tap-to-play speaker that engages little learners with read-along audiobooks, interactive Q&A trivia flashcards, and adorable yarn characters that play a wide variety of age-appropriate music and educational stories.

Exclusive Offer for BabySparks subscribers valid through June 30:

25% Off The Storypod using code:

SCREENFREE