Your child may be spending half their ‘awake’ time on the screen
One in four children spend four hours a day looking at screen of televisions, laptops and mobile phones, found a survey conducted by doctors of a city-based children’s hospital.
Doctors interviewed parents of 70 children who had walked in for consultations. Of these, 41 were under five years of age and others were between five and 18 years.
A team of paediatricians, neurologists, neuro-oncologists from Narayana Health SRCC Children’s Hospital conducted the survey during an eye check-up camp at the hospital. The findings, doctors said, gives an idea about the growing problem of ‘increased screen time’ among children.
Dr Puja Mehta, paediatric neurologist, at the hospital, who was a part of the team, said, “Most children wake up by 8am. After they are back from school, they have about six to eight hours till bed time, out of which they are spending nearly half of the ‘awake’ time ‘on screen’,” Mehta said.
While there are no formal guidelines on screen time for children in India, the American Academy of Paediatrics recommends there should be no screen time for children under the age of 18 months, said Sujata Mushrif, consultant paediatric haemato oncologist at the hospital.
“In our survey, we found that many children, under the age of 18 months, were spending time on mobile phones,” she said. ‘
Doctors said there are a range of medical concerns that come with increased screen time. Dr Anaita Hegde, a city-based paediatric neurologist said adequate number of studies have shown that increased screen time releases certain chemicals called ‘neurotransmitters’ in the brain which result in addiction. “These studies suggest that the addiction is same as what one would get while gambling,” she said. She added that increased screen time also leads to anxiety problems and depression later on in life.
Doctors advised parents to keep screen time of children limited to what is recommended by the American Academy of Paediatrics.
“Nutrition is another concern when it comes to increased screen time. Parents often keep the TV on while feeding their children. It either leads to over-eating or in case some children, they become picky eaters,” Hegde said. The survey found 50% of the children watched television while having their meals. Nutrition-related problems are also correlated to increased screen time, doctors said.
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