Have you ever given your screaming toddler a phone just so you can make it through the grocery store? Have you needed a break and put Frozen on for the 9th time that day? It happens to the best of us. Parenting is hard, let me say it again for those of you in the back parenting is HARD! Sometimes we need to keep our sanity more than our child needs limited screen time. But when your sanity has been regained or you have made it through the grocery store you need to be aware of what your child’s daily dose of technology could be doing.
While it might be nice that your child no longer requires your every attention and can be very self-sufficient there still needs to be monitoring of their chosen activities. I’m talking about video games! If you have not, please follow the link to this video.
This behavior is concerning and scary for parents. But this behavior is actually seemingly biologically normal. Notice I said biologically not socially. This is because playing video games can mimic the sensory assaults humans associate with danger. This child was not in any actual danger from his mother turning off the video game, but he perceived danger. Which allowed his body to go into his natural fight or flight response. This response is instinctual and plays a vital role for us if we are in actual danger but when this stress response is triggered to much it makes it hard for our bodies to calm themselves back down. Thus, an adolescent who plays video games is in a constant state of fight or flight but does not have the physical release that would normally be associated with removing yourself from a dangerous situation (ie. Running away). So, the nervous system does not have time to regulate itself.
It is estimated that adolescents spent upwards of 9 hours a day on screen-based media and upwards of 3 hours a day on their cellphone. Imagine being in hyperarousal for 9 hours straight and then someone come along and wants to just yank you out of it and send you to bed. NO WAY!!! It is our job as a parent to look out for our child’s best interest and while video games can be fun, limiting them will have a greater impact on your child’s overall well-being.
Research suggests that constant technology has impacted children specifically children already diagnosed with ADHD a greater chance of developing mental health problems later in life. Children will have a hard time with their emotions either internalizing or externalizing them. Children maybe more isolated as their only social connection will be through a digital screen, not actual face to face human contact. New research is coming out every day in conjunction with children and technology. As our world moves more and more online, we need to recognize the lasting impact this can have on our children.
Blog written by: Catherine Hallam, M.Ed.