The Hidden Hazards in our Homes
As an occupational therapist, I observe children and their parents in a natural environment – their homes, where I witness recurring patterns time and time again. Today’s homes are equipped with state-of-the-art child safety proof gadgets, such as knobs, locks, gates, monitors, etc. On the other hand, I also see cell phones, tablets, remotes, and iPods laying around the house and easily accessible to children. Children freely navigate from one device to another while parents are telling me, “We are trying to limit our kids’ access to technology”.
We are a safety obsessed society. Unfortunately, we protect our children from all dangers – except the real threat – technology. Overuse of technology in childhood is a time bomb. Since its side effects are not as immediate as those of getting hit by a hammer, we tend to minimize its significance.
Overuse of technology rewires children's brain to expect high levels of stimulation and perceive reality as boring. It overstimulates their brains and leaves children vulnerable to social, emotional, behavioural, academic and physical challenges.
As parents, we need to refresh our perspective on the impact of technological overuse on children's development. Why don’t we put a hammer in the middle of the room? Because we understand that it is dangerous for our children. The same is true for our everyday, handheld, consumer electronics.
As recommended by the Canadian Academy of Pediatrics, children should not have access to screen media until two years of age. For children three to five years of age, limit screen time for less than one hour a day.
Technological devices should be password protected and stored away from kids
Make kids' bedroom a 'technology free zone'
Turn off screens an hour before bedtime
Avoid technology use in cars, restaurants, during family meals
Be a role model for your child by minimizing your time spent using screens
Educate your children on the importance of balanced technology use for their body and mind
For proper development, children need to spend more time playing outdoors, doing chores, art projects, having family dinners and engaging in conversations and creative play
Technology is a real threat to children’s growing bodies and minds. Parents have to take the responsibility to protect their children from overuse of technology the way they protect their children from other hazards.
Victoria Prooday, Occupational Therapist