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The Real Dangers of Screen Time for Our Children

Screen Time. The elephant in the room. It can induce so much shame and guilt that it's become taboo to talk about it, but let's dive in.

Danger #1: Overstimulation

You're home alone with your child and put on a show so you can do xyz task in peace. (No judgment!) Then after the 20 minute episode, your child loses their mind because you turned off the tv. The overstimulation and dysregulation continues, and you're paying the cost of the artificial dopamine hits from bright colors and rapid screen changes.

Danger #2: Addiction

Suddenly the once-in-awhile or only on Saturday morning movie has turned into a daily habit, with your child begging for tv all. day. long. The more interactive the device, the more addictive. Any adult who's binged watched 3 episodes on a Friday night knows how addictive it can be. Glow Kids by Nicholas Kardaras is an eye opening read.

Danger #3: What is screen time replacing?

Sure, we can opt for the least-stimulating, less-addicting shows, but even then, is there a better alternative? What is screentime replacing? In her new book Really Very Crunchy, Emily Morrow references a study published in the JAMA that showed children ages 3-5 exposed to more than 1 hour of screen time per day had less white matter in their brains. Screens themselves don't directly cause decreased white matter, rather children were missing out on activities and experiences that foster the development of white matter (important for language, literacy, and cognitive skills). Screens replace play, the ultimate work of childhood.


I love Jerrica Sannes, she believes that we should never be replacing screens with ourselves, and unstructured, independent play is a win-win. She has a free tv detox you can access here, and she shows you how to choose the least-stimulating shows. Also linking Screen Sanity and Better Screen Time instagram accounts. 1000 Hours Outside is a brand with a simple but special mission: spend more time outdoors. She's written 2 books, 1000 Hours Outside and When the Streetlights Come On, and has a podcast as well.

I link some alternatives in this post on my travel blog, but you don't need specific toys to foster independent play, just a 'yes space' where your children free safe, secure, and confident in their ability to play on their own.

Do I think that you have to be 100% screen free to have healthy kids? No. I believe that balance is an important part of the equation, and children have to practice balance and control. Ginny Yurich, founder of 1000 Hours Outside, says that we should fill our days with the activities that interest us, then add screens in our spare time, not the other way around, and I couldn't agree more.

If you read this post, it means that you're an amazing parent who cares about the health of your child(ren). You got this mama!

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