While the temptation for some parents is to place their child in front of a screen to reward or distract them, researchers suggest that this tactic could be more harmful than anything else. Indeed, the more time a child spends in front of a screen, the more this habit is reinforced. Especially if the screen is used as a reward or its deprivation as a threat.
A bad habit
‘When you give [sweet] food to a child as a reward, the child will become less fond of carrots and prefer the cake,’ says Jess Haines, a specialist in applied nutrition and family relations, and co-author of the study published in the BMC Obesity journal. ‘It's the same with the time spent on screens,’
Researchers brought together 62 children aged 18 months to 5 years and their parents in an experiment exploring the habits of parents through this method of education. The results revealed that a majority of parents use screen time as a way to control their child, especially during weekends. And the consequences of this behaviour are notable.
Put the screens down
While parents spend an average of two hours in front of a screen during the week (outside of working) and two and a half hours on weekends, children can spend an hour and a half on weekdays and two hours on weekends... a figure that increases, if the screen is used to control the behaviour of the child. In addition, if parents spend a lot of time in front of a screen when their children are present (especially on weekends), they are likely to do the same.
The researchers also noted that many children were allowed access to a screen during meals. ‘We think screens should not be part of the meal, because it's a great time to interact as a family,’ says Haines. A sedentary activity like sitting in front of a screen increases the risk of obesity and generally harms the social and academic skills of the child during their life.
Take a look at the video above for more on why reliance on screens is not a good idea.