The Struggle with Electronics and Our Children’s Brains

children using electronics

Over the past year, technology has been more readily available for children to use, what with remote learning being used for school. With COVID-19 precautions it is hard for children to play with their friends without including some form of electronics, whether it is video games, Google chat, Zoom, or social media outlets.

A study was published by Hutton, Dudley, and Horowitz-Kraus (2019) about screen-based media and the effects on brain development. Their study found an association between higher daily screen time and lower development of language and literacy skills in children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends only one hour of screen time per day for children, while other sources like the 5-2-1-0 Let’s Go program recommends two hours or less. By limiting the use of electronics, we can help our children to develop pro-social and interpersonal skills.

How can you help your child limit screen time?

Some activities to encourage your child to do instead of using electronics could be one of the following: Family walk or picnic

  • Reading
  • Board games
  • Creative lessons (art, dance, music, etc.)
  • Volunteering
  • Outdoor activities (basketball, hiking, bike riding, sledding, etc.)

The way to find a good alternative activity for your child is to determine why they are using electric devices. Is it to have fun, to relax, to chat with friends, to avoid spending time with the family, or to escape difficult emotions or experiences? Once you find the motivation then you can help limit screen time and have your child re-engage in other activities that fulfill their needs.

With children needing to use electronics to complete school work, we need to find the balance of non-electronic activities and electronic use so that their brains can have the best chance of developing appropriately.

Written by Stacey Merrill, LCPCc

Clinician at The Maine Children’s Home for Turner Family Counseling Center and The Connected Community @MCH