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The Impact of Screen Time on Learning

Given the amount of time young people spend on various devices, you may wonder about the impact of screen time on learning.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, kids aged 8-10 spend about six hours a day in front of a screen. For teenagers, that number jumps to nearly eight and a half hours. That’s up from six hours in 2015.

Of course, some of this time is spent on virtual learning. And screens do provide educational content. However, there is some question about how such excessive screen time affects young people.

Impact of Screen Time on Learning

It’s well-established that too much screen time harms both the social and emotional development of a child. Along with struggling to read facial expressions and connect with others, they are less motivated and limited in their ability to use their imaginations.

Here are some of the other ways too much screen time negatively impacts children and the ways they learn.

1. Delays Speech Development

Have you ever encountered a three-year-old who struggles to express themselves through words, but can pick up a phone or tablet and navigate it with no problem?

This is becoming far more common.

Instead of socializing with other kids or adults, very young children are increasingly staring at screens. While this seems like a convenience for parents/caregivers, research shows that the more screen time a child experiences at an early age, the more likely they will experience a delay in developing expressive speech.

Once they get to school age, they may struggle to understand lessons and have trouble conveying what they don’t comprehend.

2. Affects Sleep

Sleep deprivation is becoming an epidemic of sorts. It’s often the topic of conversation among adults – some of whom wear a lack of sleep like a badge of pride. It’s as if to say, ‘look how much I got done even though I’m tired.’

While technology has made life easier in some regards, it’s also placed far more demands on us. What’s more, the blue light from devices and tablets blocks the production of sleep-inducing melatonin. It also throws off our natural circadian rhythms.

Once again, this is much harder on children than on adults because they need considerably more sleep. Children aged 6-12 should be getting 8-10 hours of sleep to achieve optimal functioning. Less than that and they struggle to concentrate and remember things. In other words, quality sleep is essential for processing new information which is a crucial aspect of learning.

3. Encourages Addictive Behaviors

This may sound a little over the top, but there’s a quickly growing field in psychology that deals with internet addiction. But it makes sense. Smartphone devices are designed to keep users engaged. Eventually, the notifications create a rush of dopamine.

It’s tough enough for adults to put down their devices.

So when fed a steady diet of stimuli from devices, the consequences for children are much more severe. Children lose the ability to self-soothe and begin to rely on screens to entertain them. They become numb to the real world around them.

This can make it nearly impossible for them to engage in learning (or anything else, for that matter) that doesn’t completely engage or stimulate them.

4. Diminishes Critical Thinking and Learning

One of the best ways for young children to learn critical thinking and learning is through exploration, reading, art, and other creative ventures. These are critical for the development of the cortex which plays a major role in perception, language, attention, memory, consciousness, and awareness.

Excessive screen time robs children of such experiences. In fact, MRI scans of children who spend over seven hours per day on a screen showed a thinning of the brain’s cortex. They also receive lower scores on language and critical thinking tests.

Young children naturally thrive when allowed to create art, read stories, walk in the woods, or participate in any other activity that helps them comprehend the world around them in different ways. They learn critical thinking which will help them well into their school years and beyond

Do You Want Your Child to Thrive?

There’s no denying that the impact of screen time on learning can be pretty detrimental. Especially if a child is exposed to excessive screen time.

While our arts-integrated educational platform can’t undue developmental delays created by too much screen time, we can make academic learning more palatable to your creative child.

So if you’re interested in seeing how an arts-focused education can make a difference in your child’s life, contact us today to set up a tour of our school. And prepare for possibility.


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