How A ‘Phone Based Childhood’ Can Impact Your Child’s Brain

In the last decade, the need to be on social media has increased with a rise smartphones.

Though schools have recently cracked down on phone usage, at home, screen time continues to be a pressing issue for parents;’, according to Matt Buttery, CEO of global parenting programmes provider Triple P.

He revealed that recent data from Triple P shows over two-thirds of parents, 69%, have noticed adverse effects in their children if they spend too much time looking at screens, and nearly half, 49%, are concerned about the amount of time their children are spending on digital devices.

How does a ‘phone-based childhood’ really impact your child’s brain?

Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, author of The Anxious Generation says the rise of smartphones has coincided with a worldwide mental health crisis.

In fact, he claims childhoods have been rewired, reports The Independent.

He said: “The companies had done little or no research on the mental health effects of their products on children and adolescents, and they shared no data with researchers studying the health effects. When faced with growing evidence that their products were harming young people, they mostly engaged in denial, obfuscation, and public relations campaigns.”

“By designing a firehouse of addictive content that entered through kids’ eyes and ears, and by displacing physical play and in-person socialising, these companies have rewired childhood and changed human development on an almost unimaginable scale,” Haidt added.

Haidt highlighted four ways children’s brains have changed since the rise in smartphones.

1. Social deprivation

2. Sleep deprivation

3. Attention fragmentation

4. Addiction

With this information, it’s important to know how to limit screen time as a family.

How can we limit screen time as a family?

Parents play a vital role in helping their kids limit screen time, even with teenage children you can try some techniques suggested by Matt Buttery, who says you can:

Set family limits

Agree as a family on when you’ll all switch off - this is particularly important around family mealtimes or bedtimes when strengthening relationships or winding down is the focus. It’s also great for your child to see you modelling positive screen time behaviours.

Look for opportunities to do something as a family

Encourage your child to come off their device by organising something interesting to do together. The easiest way to reduce screen time is by replacing the time you usually spend on a device with something else.

For younger kids, a kick-around in the park, drawing together, or a hide-and-seek game are great ways to encourage fresh air away from devices while also spending quality time together.

Keep the conversation open and honest

Screens are now a normal part of the way young people socialise with their friends. Suddenly removing this method of communication from their daily routine, without a clear explanation as to why, could lead to confusion and conflict.

“Instead, parents may want to establish open dialogue with their children and discuss reasonable rules about being online together. Explain to them that a healthy mix of ‘real life’ interaction and online is important - and that we can get something positive from both,” he says.