Last week I saw a parent rushing into her pediatrics’ chamber carrying her 3-year-old child. She started complaining that her kid hasn’t started speaking not even uttering syllables or small words. This is a common complaint among the younger generation parents today whose kids tune into smartphones and tablets for engaging themselves. Have you ever thought about why the child catches hold of his/her mother tongue easily while he/she has to learn other languages either at school or from outside? That’s solely because the child keeps hearing the family members speak to each other, speak to him/her and convey anything and everything in their mother tongue. The kid takes into him/her all the syllables, words and sounds heard and thus starts speaking a syllable, word or a phrase in his/her mother tongue. But now, when conversation is limited to WhatsApp, messaging or Skype calls and the kid is given a tablet to engage himself/herself where does the child get the opportunity to listen and speak? He/she is engrossed in his/her mobile world ignorant of things that happen around.
Increased Screen Time, Decreased Sociability
A latest research that followed up on 2,500 children (aged two) came up with the result that when toddlers spend a major chunk of their time using tablets, mobiles, television or other electronic screen-based devices their language and sociability skills (any developmental skill) are delayed. The research team requested mothers of these children to fill up questionnaires regarding their child’s developmental skills during the ages of 2, 3 and 4. This survey happened between 2011 and 2016. Results showed that:
Decrease Screen Time & Increase Sociability
The aim of every parent should be to minimize screen time and maximize interaction with other people-members of the family, friends and neighbors. This must be done as early as the child’s first year of age as children as young as 12-month-olds are getting addicted to viewing television or mobiles. When a parent starts monitoring the child from an early age correcting him/her becomes easier but when this age increases, both the parents and the children find it difficult to accommodate each other’s requirements.
Coming to the ultimate question of how much of screen time is too much, the study does not suggest anything in this regard. There were some kids who were seeing bare minimal of not more than 20 minutes while some viewed for up to 4 hours a day. It is better to avoid introducing screen time to kids until the age of two and after that, limit it to one hour a day up to the age of 5. For kids above 5 years it is the parents’ duty to ensure that screen time doesn’t hinder their academics, sleep and play time. Whatever might be the screen time it is every parent’s responsibility to ensure that their children watch only those things that are kid-friendly. For this, every mother and father should sit with smaller children when they are watching things on the Internet. For elder kids, a parental monitoring guard must be ensured in the smartphone the child uses and adults must talk to their kids on the pros and cons of watching something in a clear and concise way.
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.