In today’s digital age, technology is inevitable. It offers invaluable tools for learning, connection, and entertainment. However, excessive screen time can have unintended consequences. That’s where the concept of a digital detox for children comes in. Excessive screen time i.e., more than two hours a day may have long-term irreversible effects such as:
- Delayed brain development: Excessive screen time has been linked to delayed cognitive development, attention issues, learning disability, and difficulty with social interactionamong children in the age group of 6 months to 5 years old. Toddlers as young as 2-year-olds are vulnerable to digital addiction.
- Physical health: Too much screen time can lead to sedentary lifestyles, increasing the risk of obesity, poor posture, and sleep disturbances. It will
- Mental well-being: Constant exposure todigital stimuli can be overwhelming and lead to anxiety, depression, and FOMO (fear of missing out).
- Social Skills: Face-to-face interaction is essential for building strong social skills, empathy, and emotional intelligence, due to screen addiction, children fail to appreciate the world around them.
- Mindful connection: Technology can be a great tool for connecting with family and friends, but it can also create distractions and a feeling of being constantly available.
Psychological and Social Factors: Social media interactions give dopamine rush and are stress busters and children with low self-esteem find validation and acceptance on social media which leads to dependency and eventually addiction. Social factors like unlimited internet accessibility, peer pressure for technology usage, and lack of alternative activities do play a key role. Underlying mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and ADHD can be co-occurring factors for digital addiction.
Recommendations for Digital Detox: A digital detox is about encouraging mindful and responsible use. By creating a healthy balance, one can nurture tech-savvy children while also being grounded, resilient, and well-rounded individuals.
- To develop a screen-free evening routine
- Creating technology-free zones in the house, and designated “device-free time” for outdoor activities and family interactions.
- Encourage outdoor play, sports, and physical activities.
- Spark creativity with arts and crafts, music, or writing.
- Foster imagination through storytelling, board games, and puzzles.
- Connect with nature through gardening, exploring parks, or camping trips.
- Prioritize family time and face-to-face conversations.
Dr. Sushma Gopalan, Child Psychologist – Child Life Specialist, Aster CMI Hospital, Bangalore