W.H.O. Says – No Screens for Your Baby (Part 1)
A Guest Post by R Blank, CEO of Shield Your Body (link)
This is Part 1 of a two part blog about protecting your baby from EMF waves. Read Part 2 here.
Although rewarding, being a new parent can be a physically, emotionally, and mentally taxing job. So, it’s common to hanker for a little “me time” every now and then. And with modern technology, it’s now a lot easier to get it.
Just fire up some kiddie show on your phone, like Coco Melon or Peppa Pig, and give it to your baby. This will distract them enough for you to engage in other stuff or get some shut-eye.
But if cell phones can act as such great babysitters, why is the World Health Organization advising against them? Why do they advocate for zero screen time for babies aged 0 to 2 years?
That’s because, while they’re great at distracting your baby and keeping them happy, cell phones also affect their physical, mental, and emotional growth, say experts.
So, what’s the alternative?
That’s what we’re going to look at in this post. We’ll discuss the hazards of screen use during infancy and what you can do to improve their physical, mental, emotional, and psychological growth.
So, let’s begin.
Babies and Screens Do Not Mix
Before we look at the alternatives to distracting your baby with a cell phone, let’s first have an in-depth look at why experts recommend zero screen time during infancy.
Screens Hijack Attention Spans
Focusing and concentrating on something for a long time is a skill most individuals will need as they grow up. And since the human brain is malleable – even more so when you’re a baby – prolonged screen use severely affects this ability.
During their earliest years, a baby’s brain is sensitive to the environments around them. They get the essential stimuli from the outside world, which helps their brain develop and grow.
And if the baby isn’t accustomed to this environment and is allowed to build a relationship with the fast-moving and frequently changing virtual world, soon, the real world starts feeling dull to them.
“When a child spends too much time on screens being constantly rewarded, it can become hard to exercise directed attention doing the tasks that aren’t as fun but are necessary in life,” says Michael Manos, director of the ADHD Center for Evaluation and Treatment at the Cleveland Clinic.
In other words, screen time will lead to an inability to focus.
Screens Reduce Empathy
Studies show that prolonged screen use inhibits babies’ ability to learn social skills and develop emotional intelligence — two critical factors to being an empathetic individual.
Experts say that face-to-face interactions are the only way babies can develop the ability to understand non-verbal cues and interpret them.
“Until babies develop language,” says Charles Nelson, a Harvard neuroscientist who studies the impact of neglect on children’s brains, “all communication is non-verbal, so they depend heavily on looking at a face and deriving meaning from that face. Is this person happy with me, or are they upset at me?”
The two-way interaction between a baby and the parent(s) is critically important for their brain development.
When you expose your child to (emotionless) screens from such a young age, it significantly reduces their chances of learning to read human emotions and control their own.
This later translates to low social intelligence, detracting them from activities that boost their brain power, like playing and interacting with other children.
Digital overstimulation or information overload occurs when the human brain is exposed to significantly more information than it can handle.
Although our brains can store colossal amounts of information, they have a limit regarding how much data they can process at any given moment.
Today, our internet-connected gadgets expose our brains to overwhelming amounts of information. Because of this, problems like digital dementia, sleep disorders, and poor attention spans are rising at an alarming rate.
Besides these, information overload can also affect a child’s academic performance.
“It can be very frustrating for a child who struggles with information overload to understand – and effectively utilize – the information they are presented when they are at school. A child can underperform academically due to simply having to process too much information at a given time,” says Dana Stahl, M.Ed.
Continuing Reading Part 2 of This Series
Continue reading Part 2 of this blog series here.