STOP SCREENING AT THEM!
Posted by: Sue Atkins
Here’s an interesting article in the Bangalore Mirror about screens, mental health and your child’s wellbeing.
Unplug your kids from being a screen addict before it affects their mental health.
Everyone seems happy. The digital intervention seems to be an easy distraction for the kids and a relief for the parents. But one needs to understand that a child’s healthy development involves social interaction, creative imaginative play and an engagement with the real, natural world.
Digital screens over stimulates and shuns this developmental process. “Exposure to too much screen has a similar effect on the brain like that of any narcotic drug. It releases dopamine (commonly known as feel-good hormone) at regular intervals making it difficult for children to respond to other, regular reward systems because it doesn’t excite them enough,” says Mumbai-based clinical psychologist Dr Manasi Bhat.
The Inside of your child’s brain
It is important to understand the inside workings of a brain to truly recognise the problem at hand. “The developing brain is like a mass of billions of neurons, which are poorly connected with each other. Consider this to be the hardware. Each time the child is exposed to anything via her senses, this information gets processed via connections that develop within these neurons,” explains Dr Samir Dalwai, President, Indian Academy of Paediatrics Mumbai City. “Consider this to be the software. This information is stored for retrieval in the form of memory. The more often a child is exposed to a particular piece of information, that particular network within the software becomes stronger and faster. This is the process of learning. The retrieval from memory becomes instantaneous and easily applicable. This is the process of mastery.”
The environment drives the software – we become what we are exposed to. That’s why a child born in a Telegu speaking house speaks Telegu, not German. This also means that if a child is exposed to violence on media at an early age, violence will come naturally to him. If they see a particular cartoon character at an early age, the character’s behaviour comes naturally to the child.
At such a young age, their understanding of the world around them is based completely on exploration using sensory organs. By limiting their curiosity to only visual stimulation and mostly over-stimulation the other areas remain underdeveloped. “This drives the kid’s learning and development through life. This kind of addiction is thus much stronger than substance abuse because it masquerades as normal in the cerebral cortex – the ‘thinking’ part of the brain,” warns Dr Dalwai.
How does an addiction form?
Read more here