Children, Electronics & Health
Light Disrupts Sleep
Research shows that young children are adversely affected by indoor lighting at night. Just one hour of bright light exposure before bedtime suppressed the children’s melatonin by 88 percent. This study isn’t even looking at electronic use, and a significant negative response was found. We know the higher intensity blue light coming from screens causes even more disruption.
Bright artificial light exposure at night suppresses melatonin production. The negative health effects include fatigue, behaviour issues, compromised immunity and elevated blood sugar.
Serotonin is the precursor to melatonin. Both help regulate inflammation and pain. Chronic inflammatory disorders including depression may be influenced by low melatonin. Melatonin is also an important antioxidant.
Amber coloured light bulbs and side lighting can be used in the evening to support melatonin. Dimmer switches can help as well. Nightlights ought to be warm coloured and used in bathrooms as opposed to bedrooms. Digital alarm clocks, and other sources of artificial light should be removed from bedrooms. Blackout curtains may be necessary. Restricting children’s use of electronic use especially before bed is important.
Parents feel more distracted parenting when using their phones. Studies show this impairs their sense of connection with their children. The group of parents who did not use phones while parenting had an increased sense of meaning from this time.
Play as an Antidote to Anxiety
Screens take away from play time, interrupt time for reflection and time for boredom which is an important aspect of creativity.
The disappearance of play is a major contributor to the growth of anxiety disorders amongst adolescents. Play helps kids learn social and emotional skills. It also develops the ability to take risks and think abstractly.
Half of children will have a mood or behaviour disorder by the time they are 18. Anxiety affects 32% of young people. Time spent on social media means a decline in contribution to their home environment and in their communities.
Cultivating the 3 ‘C’s’
1. Connection – cuddling, tickling, holding young children. Older children need the same connection although it may look different.
2. Communication – asking questions, finding out how they feel and what they spend their time doing. Ask them how screen time feels different from other activities?
3. Capability building – help them grow to be capable human beings who are learning skills to self-regulate.
Two references that may be of interest: The Good News About Bad Behavior & Playborhood