When it comes to the conversation around screen time, there are many varied opinions. Some people, especially scientists and experts will warn against too much screen time, while many tired, overworked parents will say that there is no such thing as too much if it means they can get things done around the house without interruption. Naturally, there is always too much of a good thing, but trying to find that happy medium is where things get murky. Now, a British brain scientist has a new claim that will scare parents. The claim is that too much screen time will result in a child with the mentality of a 3-year-old, regardless of age.
Baroness Susan Greenfield, is a senior research fellow at Oxford University. She is also the former director of the Royal Institution of Great Britain. Her concern is that children are losing their ability to think for themselves, empathize, and communicate with each other. Baroness Greenfield has been actively researching these ideas since 2014. She believes that social media use and playing video games are detrimental to how our kids are growing emotionally. Basically, the lack of interaction is causing them to be stunted; and in some cases, older children seem to be regressing in terms of their emotional behavior. She faults the instant gratification of social media and gaming for dulling their ability to be alone with their own thoughts and use their imagination.
“What I predict is that people are going to be like three-year-olds: emotional, risk-taking, poor social skills, weak self-identity and short attention spans,” Baroness Greenfield told The Telegraph in an interview.
And while she is not telling parents to ban screens altogether, she is giving them the tools to be more aware. There is obviously benefits to screen time in a world that is become increasingly more digitized, but sometimes kids just need to have a little time without the screens. A bit of a detox or a respite if you will. Greenfield suggests giving them activities that have a clear beginning, middle and end, like reading a book either alone or together. Puzzles or board games can also be great alternatives. Physical activity is also encouraged; perhaps suggesting a half hour outside for every half hour of screen time. Greenfield also adds the importance of imaginative play, “Give them a box to play with rather than an X-box so they can use their imagination," she suggests.
It is important to make sure that we are giving our kids the most well-rounded childhood experiences we can; we don't want to raise emotionally stunted adults!