Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) — A new study finds that allowing children to watch tablets and the TV screen may impair their academic achievement, and their emotional well-being later.
The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics on Monday, reported that researchers found that prolonged screen time in childhood is associated with poorer executive functioning once the child reaches 9 years of age.
According to the Harvard University Center on Child Development, executive functioning skills are mental processes that “enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and successfully juggle multiple tasks.”
According to the study, executive functioning skills are important for higher-order cognition, such as emotional regulation, learning, academic achievement, and mental health.
These skills influence our success socially, academically, professionally, and how we take care of ourselves, said Dr. Erika Schiappini, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, USA.
Chiappini, who was not involved in the study, noted that although these cognitive processes develop normally from childhood through adulthood, they are also influenced by what experiences we experience and when during our development.
Dr. Joyce Harrison, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the research, said the findings support recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which favors that children not be exposed to screens before they are 18 months old, with the exception of chat technology. the video.
The study looked at data from Growing Up in Singapore Towards Healthy Outcomes (GUSTO), and surveyed women from all socioeconomic backgrounds during the first trimester of pregnancy. The sample consists of 437 children who underwent electroencephalography (EEG) tests, which are used to examine the neural pathways of cognitive functions in the children’s brain when they are one year old, 18 months old, and 9 years old.
Parents reported each child’s screen time, and researchers found a link between childhood viewing time and attention and executive function at 9 years of age, according to the study.
The study expressed the need for more research to determine whether screen time may cause impaired executive function, or if other factors in a child’s environment expose children to more screen time and impair their executive functioning.
What children need
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that in a learning-rich period such as childhood, one of the problems with screen use is that young children don’t learn much from it.
“There is no substitute for adult interaction, modeling, and teaching,” Harrison told CNN.
Chiappini explained that children have difficulty interpreting information displayed, for example on screens, and have difficulty distinguishing between fantasy and reality.
“Children and infants are also social learners, and they benefit a lot from mutual interaction with others (adults and children), which is difficult to achieve through the use of screens,” Chiappini told CNN.
She notes that when it comes to emotional regulation, infants and young children can learn from their caregivers when they model self-control, or help label emotions and use appropriate expressions.
And Harrison continued, you can give a young child options for what to do when he is angry, such as taking a break, or breathing deeply instead of resorting to inappropriate behaviors such as hitting.
Jenny Radesky, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician and assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at Michigan Medicine C.S.C. A death for children, not involved in the research Talking about emotions can be too abstract for pre-school children, in which case using color areas to talk about feelings can be useful.
He may label calm and joy in green, anxiety or stress in yellow, and resentment and anger in red, using drawings or pictures of faces to help children match what they are feeling with the color range of their emotions. To reinforce this, adults can talk about their emotions in terms of colors in front of their children, Radesky reported in an earlier article for CNN.
She added that parents and children can review colors together and come up with calming tools for different areas.
To enhance executive function skills, Harrison found it important to provide structured participation where the child can work through problem-solving to the maximum extent possible at their developmental level, rather than doing the problem-solving for themselves.
How to get things done without screens
But sometimes parents just need to finish a homework or attend a business meeting, and screens can be an effective distraction for their kids.
Harrison stressed that it is best to avoid screen time for very young children. Instead, she advised, it would be better to involve the child in the housework. For example, “giving the walking child some clothes to fold next to you while you try to fold the clothes, or putting the child in a safe place near you so that you can make frequent eye contact with him while you do your homework.”
For older children, she said, screen time should be used strategically before entering school.
For example, Harrison explained, “one hour of screen time can be reserved during an important video meeting.”
She added that there is some content that may help teach emotional regulation when all means have been exhausted.
And Schiappini has found that screen time can be made productive by having your child watch, asking questions like, “How does this character feel?” and “What can others do to help their friend?”