Becoming one of the most popular computer tools in recent years, the touchscreen tablet is the star of Christmas gifts. With more than 50 million users worldwide and suitable for children from the age of 3, it keeps appealing to us with its large screen and its ability to switch from a game console to an e-reader or even a fun learning tool.
It is impossible to know how many of these tablets will end up in front of the eyes of children and adolescents this year a,d for how long. But the observation is there: in almost 10 years, tablets and smartphones have been added to televisions and other video game consoles to cause screen time records for French population to skyrocket. And its of their children, too.
What is the influence of screens on the development of the young ones?
- Sleep : Regardless of age, prolonged exposure to screens disrupts sleep. Indeed, the brain confuses blue light from screens with daylight, which delays the secretion of melatonin (the sleep hormone) and therefore disrupts falling asleep process.
- Behavioral disorders: In the little ones, it poses a risk of behavioral disorders. According to the president of the French Society of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Emeritus Professor of Child Psychiatry, Daniel Marcelli: “Clinically, an 18-month-old child exposed to a TV that is permanently on in the living room, and who would spend several hours on a tablet, may present a syndrome of exclusive interest in screens, a total lack of interest in symbolic and traditional games, develop a language delay, problems integrating with others or even make fits of rage when his screen is taken away. “
- Myopia :The sight of 16/24 year olds deteriorates from year to year because of screen usage. The national association for the improvement of the sight (Asnav) warns about this issue: ” The brain interprets distance vision as no longer a priority and favors near vision by causing this phenomenon of myopia. Naturally, humans are not made to look close to themselves. ”
- Dry eye : The problem is, staring at a screen causes an unconscious reflex. The eyelid blink rate decreases from once every 5 seconds to once every 12 seconds. The result is drying of the ocular surface, which is no longer protected by tears. The eye becomes dry, itches, cries and is at higher risk for other conditions such as chronic conjunctivitis to appear. Dr. Leslie O’Dell, interviewed by US media outlet FOX43, stated that children are becoming an increasingly common patient in the United States when it comes to dry eyes. In fact, she gradually receives more and more young patients, who can develop dry eye syndrome from the age of 10!
What advice can we give to parents?
- The 3-6-9-12 rule: Developed by psychiatrist Serge Tisseron, is easy to remember. No screens before the age of 3, no portable game console before the age of 6, accompanied internet access from 9 years old, and free access from 12 years old onwards.
- Supporting children: Pediatrician Eric Osika recommends that parents get involved in their children’s activities when they find them in front of a screen a lot. “In front of an educational program like “C’est pas sorcier”, the child does not necessarily waste his time. If in addition an adult by his side comments on the images, evokes memories, takes out a dictionary, unfolds a geographical map, it is a win win! “
- To give an example : It is difficult to force your child to let go of his game console if you yourself are constantly looking at your smartphone.