In an era where digital consumerism is at its peak, children are now spending more time than ever at digital screens — on smartphones, computers, laptops, TVs, tablets, and other devices that connect to the internet. All those excessive screen times can take a heavy toll on the children’s health, which primarily affects their eyesight.
In research conducted, it’s been found out that children as young as 6 months old start to zoom in on digital media devices, such as their parents’ smartphones or tablets. In the same study, it was shown that children spend nearly 7 hours per day using screened-based media. It can be playing video games, watching TV, and using social media. Take note, it doesn’t include the additional hours spent on using gadgets to make homework.
If this habit will be left unattended by parents, children might keep watching and playing which may lead to fatigue and eye-rubbing exhaustion.
But did you know that too much screen time for the kids is also detrimental to their dental health?
The main culprit is snacking.
Given that 95% of cavity issues and tooth decay is preventable, many children are still admitted to dental clinics for unnecessary extractions.
The mindless and unsupervised munching of whatever’s in the cupboard is the problem.
Playing games can keep a child’s hands busy on a console, but watching videos or cartoons does not. Most parents worry about the negative impact of screen time on children’s health.
Children consuming unhealthy snacks while binge-watching shows or videos is a major concern.
To give you a better picture, too much screen time poses two main problems to a child’s eating habits:
- It’s easy to eat too much while watching streaming videos or TV shows.
- Advertisements that sell unhealthy food influences the children’s idea of “delicious” snacks.
In fact, there’s moderate evidence that associates screentime, particularly television screentime to poor diet quality among children.
Consequently, for parents, excessive screen time will make it more difficult for them to bring the children along when shopping. The requests for products (the ones seen on-screen) that are high in sugar but low in nutrition value, can be a source of submission or disagreement.
Once those unhealthy snacks are put in the trolley, it’s easy for the children to munch on them during passive screen times.
That prompt the government to investigate the possibility of banning advertisements for foods and drinks that are high in sugar, salt, and fat. If this will push through, it will help protect the children across all media, not just television and print.
What parents can do?
To help keep your child’s screen time at a minimum, here’s what you should do:
Monitor the screen time.
It might be inevitable for the children’s screen time to increase, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, which forces many schools to shift to online classes. But, parents are encouraged to monitor their screen times and establish a schedule or routine for using gadgets. In this way, their media consumption will lessen, and eating habits healthy.
Take time to talk it through.
Parenting per se is a tough responsibility, and with modern life presenting all kinds of challenges, it can be hard to keep your children aligned with a healthy lifestyle. Thus communication and discussion are key.
In order to regulate screen times, families need to establish clear expectations and rules, including the snacking routine.
It’s also best to consult and seek help from professionals such as Palmetto Kids General Dentistry and Orthodontics and other credible dental institutions in your area.
For example, if your child is snacking too much, your dentist can do a thorough check-up to look for cavities or dental decay. It will be treated right away. You will also get important advice and reminders to keep your child’s dental health in tip-top shape.
Exercise and Play.
Stepping away from the computer or TV or putting down the device can help your children avoid vision problems from too much screen time. A 60-minute exercise or physical activity with children per day will do wonders for their well-being.
If formal exercise routines won’t cut it, active play and getting exposure to natural sunlight are the best outdoor activities that render the same benefits.
Control Their Snacking Habits.
It’s important to set a snack time for children, such as mid-morning and mid-afternoon. It will help prevent them from munching snacks whenever they like and will set their mealtime at proper hours. This practice works well for many children, especially those who easily adapt or function well on routines.