unplugged_games_anissat_539059.jpgSome kids these days have turned into modern-day zombies and vampires, not because they eat flesh and drink blood, but because they spend more time awake in the evenings on TV, video games, and online activities. They then end up waking up late the next morning, feeling and looking sluggish and technologically-intoxicated—which can definitely have a negative effect on academics.

Even children as young as three years old can now handle such gadgets with ease and familiarity. Because of this, life now has somehow become a tug of war between parents and children, with the latter’s growing interest (and, in some cases, addiction) in spending more time in front of a TV or computer screen than any other activity. And while some may argue that this allows the child to be more in touch with the world and develop technological skills that are a must in this day and age, allowing kids so much screen time has its downside too.

According to this Reuters Health article, psychologists have discovered how long hours of screen time affect children’s concentration in school, although the researchers have yet to determine the reasons why such habits would bring about attention problems in children.

Researchers followed more than 1,300 school-aged children, recording their TV and gaming hours for over a year with the assistance of their parents, then asking the kids’ teachers about the children’s behavior and performance in school. They found that children with two hours or more of daily screen time showed increased chances of surpassing the average level of attention problems by about 67 percent.  A similar study was conducted on 210 college students who supplied self-reports on their TV and video game habits and exposure and the attention problems they experienced.

In this Medical News Today article, one researcher reveals that screen media’s connection with attention problems are not yet clear, though he sees “rapid-pacing or natural attention grabbing aspects” of screen media as possible culprits. Take, for example, the effect of music videos and quick edits on the pace of television programming, which may have some brain-changing effects, specifically in terms of attention span.

But don’t throw out the TV entirely. Researchers explain that the impact of these screen technologies relied on several factors and is not essentially that striking, and remind us that not all children are influenced by screen time to the same degree since behavior is caused by a combination of factors.

But Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) expert Miriam Mulsow of Texas Tech University does not believe that TV or video games cause attention problems or ADHD. She says associating these technologies with attention problems sort of puts the blame on parents who use such tools to entertain children—and this should not be the case, nor should this reasoning be used to make parents feel bad. She stresses: TV-watching only aggravates the situation if the child has a real tendency to have attention problems. She agrees, however, that children should not spend longer than two hours a day in front of the television, as she herself does not allow her children to do so.

This study and others like it continue to incite separate reactions from parents and even other psychologists. But whether these findings have completely proven or not the adverse effects of screen media in children, for the most part, proper growth and development of children truly lies in the hands of the parents. But many busy parents may ask, if not with the TV, then how are we to entertain our kids?

Check out the slide show below for a few ideas.

For more parenting-related new studies, you may want to read the articles listed below:

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(Photo by anissat via sxc.hu)
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