In today's world, it is extremely difficult to get away from screens for long. Most adults spend a good majority of their days staring at them, making it only natural for toddlers to copy them. But parents do need to be aware of how much time their kids spend looking at screens as those can cause a number of seemingly unrelated side effects.
Now, of course, it is okay to occasionally give a toddler a tablet as a distraction while the parent tends to more important matters. However, it is crucial that this remains an exception and doesn't become the rule. Not only does screentime for a toddler need to be limited but it should actually also be monitored, especially since young kids tend to take everything they see in like sponges. It's imperative for parents to make sure the content kids watch is age-appropriate.
While screens can be a great source of entertainment, they can also be very educational, but only if the parents make sure it is. Otherwise, the chances are high the toddler will end up being raised by screens. Let's have a look at 20 signs a toddler is spending way too much time in front of a screen.
A common side effect of using and looking at screens too much, especially at nighttime and before bed, is the inability to fall asleep.
The main reason for this is the fact that screens emit blue light which interferes with our sleep cycle. Keep in mind this blue light affects people of all age -- meaning you too! So if toddlers tend to watch something on TV or play games on tablets before bed, it can definitely result in them being unable to fall asleep quickly.
If there's one thing all parents hate, it's when their kid just won't fall asleep at night!
As previously mentioned, since blue light affects our sleep cycles, it is pretty common for a person to keep waking up during the night if they looked at screens a lot during the day.
While there can be plenty of reasons why toddlers wake up in the middle of the night, too much screen time is often a reason that parents either disregard or simply don't know about. Sleep cycles are so important for a healthy sleep, and they are so easy to mess with just by looking at screens too much. Luckily, this can be easily solved by using screens less.
A lot of studies have linked early ADHD symptoms with a lot of time spent in front of screens. According to All About Vision, a two-year study conducted in Los Angeles, California, found that people with greater digital device use and more screen time were about 10% more likely to develop ADHD symptoms by the end of the two years.
This means that if a toddler shows any symptoms of ADHD, a very common cause for that could be too much exposure to screens. Even if a toddler loves their screens, the parents need to be responsible and think about their child's health.
Mood swings are another possible result of spending too much time in front of screens. This is often connected to a bad sleeping pattern, as well as low physical and outdoor activity. Kids who spend a lot of time every day in front of computers, TVs, and phones, don't spend enough time doing other things like walking, running around and physically playing.
All of this affects their hormones and can make them more easily irritable.
Mood swings can have plenty of causes, but sometimes using screens too much can also indirectly lead to them, and nobody wants a mood toddler!
You know how toddlers tend to go for their favorite thing as soon as they wake up? Ideally, that favorite thing would be a cute toy they love, or they'd insist on petting the family dog. Perhaps they may even want to have their favorite breakfast, but toddlers who are addicted to screens tend to either go for the TV, computer or iPad as soon as they wake up.
And while this can seem pretty funny to the parents at first, it is definitely not a good habit as there are more fulfilling things to do in the morning.
We all know how easy it is to get carried away in front of a screen and end up eating a whole bag of chips without being aware of it. Snacking goes hand in hand with watching movies or playing video games and this is an addiction that can start from a very early age.
The truth is, it is way easier to break the bad eating habit for a toddler than a grown-up. That can also be simply achieved by limiting the screen time so they won't feel the need to ask for snacks.
One thing screens can never replace is actual human beings. We all need friends, and toddlers are definitely no different. And while toddlers usually tend to be naturals at making friends, mainly because they are more genuine and aren't afraid of embarrassment, sometimes screens can complicate that.
The thing is, a toddler who loves screens tends to choose them over social activities with friends, which in return limits the development of the kid's social skills.
As with everything in life, there needs to be a balance, and parents should never encourage substituting playing with friends with watching things on a screen.
If a toddler complains about having a lot of headaches, then chances are they also spend a lot of time in front of different screens on a daily basis. This actually isn't all that surprising as it is known that adults who spend a lot of time in front of computers at work tend to experience frequent headaches as well, so why would toddlers be any different?
Of course, screens may not always be the cause for this, but if a child is complaining about headaches, parents should try to lower their screen time and see if that affects it in a positive way.
Speaking of pain, another common symptom of too much screen time is pain in the neck and shoulders. This is usually because of bad posture and the tendency to look down at the gadget for a long time.
It is very important for toddlers to develop good posture so that they wouldn't have problems in the future, which is why this pain is something parents should never neglect.
Many people nowadays have terrible posture, along with neck and shoulder pain, just because they look at their phones too much. Making sure their toddler grows into a healthy kid is part of every parents' job!
Kids who usually spend a lot of time in front of different screens throughout the day also tend to be lazier than those who don't. This makes sense as watching videos or movies on screens tends to be a very passive activity and the more the kid does that passive activity, the less he is inclined to actually be active.
It's sort of a way for them to form a bad habit, which can be pretty tough to work on later on once they get older, so parents should definitely try to get to it as soon as possible!
Another very obvious indication that a toddler spends too much time in front of screens on a daily basis is when they struggle to separate the real world from the digital.
It is known to have happened that kids who are shown a real photograph try to swipe it with their finger as it is something they are used to doing on their phones and tablets.
Now while this might seem hilarious to their parents, it is definitely nothing they should be proud of, as it is very important for children to realize that gadgets are gadgets and not the real world.
According to Baby Center, a study conducted showed that babies and toddlers who have been exposed to screens more often have greater difficulty when it comes to soothing themselves. While it is true that kids often don't know how to soothe themselves, to begin with, mainly because parents run to soothe them immediately so they never learn, it is of concern that screen time can affect children in this way as well.
Learning to soothe and calm themselves down is important the older the child gets and parents shouldn't take this lightly. It's never too late for a kid to learn to self-soothe and limiting screen time can potentially help.
Screen time can heavily affect a person's eyes, and a toddler's eyes can be way more sensitive to this than a grown up's. Anyone who spends a lot of time in front of screens knows the classic symptoms of eye irritation screens can cause: having dry and/or red eyes.
If a toddler starts showing these symptoms, it is a pretty clear indicator that their eyes need more rest from the screens and that they need more natural light and colors.
Spending more time outdoors and getting enough good sleep are the best ways to solve this eye problem.
Kids can be spoiled and take no for an answer for many reasons, but one of them can also be the fact that they get way too much screen time daily. The cause of this can be anything screen-related, from what content they watch on their screens and what it actually teaches them, to how much good quality sleep they get (or rather don't get), and how irritable they tend to be because of it. It is important that the parents find the cause of why their child is not obeying, and they try to work on that.
According to Healthline, a number of studies have indicated that children who get more screen time tend to learn a slower than those children who don't get nearly as much screen time. While this isn't necessarily always directly connected to screen time itself, it is connected to some of the other effects it has on the children such as poor quality sleep, a bad diet, common mood swings and ADHD symptoms.
Limiting a kid's screen time can have a positive effect on all of the aforementioned issues, hence a positive effect on learning quicker and performing better in kindergarten/school as well.
Fortunately, screen time doesn't only have negative effects on toddlers. It can definitely also encourage some positive things in kids, as some studies have shown that screen time can make kids more open-minded and accepting. Now, this obviously depends on what kind of content they watch and interact with on screens, but it is definitely something that is encouraging.
Yet again, it needs to be stressed that finding the right balance of how much screen time the toddler should have is very important, and if managed properly, screen time can have very positive affects on them.
Forgetfulness is another trait that can be linked to too much screen time. This is especially common when the toddler is being talked to while they are distracted by something that's going on on a screen. They might still acknowledge what you said as if they understood it, but it often ends up being quickly forgotten.
Making sure the toddler has your full attention when talking to them is extremely important in order to deal with forgetfulness due to distraction.
And how do you deal with this forgetfulness? Perhaps start by limiting the toddler's daily screen time, and see if that helps!
Plenty of studies have conducted research on connecting screen time to reaching certain developmental milestones. For example, according to clinical psychologist David Anderson, Ph.D, it has been concluded that "spending more than two hours in front of screens a day increases toddlers’ chances of delayed speech development".
The reason for this? Honestly, it is quite straight forward: toddlers who spend lots of time in front of different screens throughout the day don't get talked to enough, and being talked to is the fastest way to learn how to speak as a kid. Screens don't and can't substitute a human talking back to you.
By now, it's quite obvious that screen-obsessed toddlers love spending a lot of time looking at their screens.
This means that when it comes to staying inside and watching things on screens or going outside and playing with other kids, they actually tend to choose the first one.
This does sound pretty awful, doesn't it? Parents need to counteract this bad decision-making by setting strict screen time rules for every day, as being outdoors is an essential part of everyone's lives, and toddlers are no exception. One day, the toddler will be grateful for your initiative, even if that day isn't here yet.
Lastly, toddlers who get a lot of screen time can sometimes be more violent than those who don't get nearly as much. The main reason for this is also usually related to the kind of content they are watching on their screens and whether that content entails any sort of violence. It needs to be noted that even if its mild, cartoon violence, it can still affect the toddlers behavior in a negative way.
Toddlers tend to pick up a lot of their behavior from screens, so if a kid hits or bites instead of using his words, parents should perhaps look into what it tends to watch or play on screens.