How to Prevent Your Child from Becoming Addicted to Video Games and Screens
The Our First Year team has always been about promoting purposeful playtime and enhancing the developmental potential of your baby. We are hoping to create a movement that decreases overall screen time and increases human interaction and activities that are critical for developing motor, language, and social-emotional skills in children so they can be successful in academics, sports, and other social settings.
The fight against screen time is real. Of course there are many benefits to screens and technology and we aren't denying that, but the detriments that we are seeing is cause for concern. So, is there such a thing as "gaming addiction?" The World Health Organization (WHO) seems to think so. The WHO has included "gaming disorder" in the 11th edition of International Classification of Diseases. The three characteristics of this disorder are: "gaming takes precedence over other activities, impaired control over these behaviors, and even when there are negative consequences, the behavior continues or escalates."
Unfortunately, in the academic setting, I have worked with children who fit this profile. It is becoming extremely difficult to remove a child from the computer (working on an educational site) in order to engage them in speech therapy, whether it be a board game, book, cooking activity, or craft. Some children have had full-blown tantrums when removed from the computer and it can take them several minutes to regulate or calm down. This type of behavior is negatively impacting their developmental and social-emotional skills.
So how does one prevent this screen addiction? When should one start? It's best to follow the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for screens and prohibiting screen use before 18-24 months old. Only one hour supervised for children 2-5 and limit what they watch and watch with them after age 5.
Parents and caregivers can combat the screen addiction, by setting a better example themselves. Put the phone down and be present, engage in playtime with your child, talk with your child throughout the day, and read to your child. When children aren't offered the screen as a baby or toddler, they will find joy in other activities, such as coloring, playground, board games, puzzles, and sports. As the weather gets warmer, make a conscious effort to turn off the television, tablets, and phones, and enjoy the outdoors with your little one.
Decreasing screen time for your baby and toddler is easy...it's all in the bag!
Purchase an Our First Year infant backpack or toddler tote for all the tools necessary to engage in playtime without the use of screens and technology.