Today we live surrounded by electronic devices that absorb all our attention: tablets, smartphones, televisions, computers… This is not something cognitively beneficial for human beings, we spend many hours in front of these devices, which bring us the world to the sofa home, but would not it be better to go out and see the world?
Surely more than one has been amazed at the great management that our children have on new technologies. The tablet has become one of the great allies of many dads. This allows us to have our son calm while we are having dinner with some friends, we see a movie, we are doing household chores or even on some occasion they have helped us to manage a tantrum. But … in what way do these technologies affect our children?
The effects of technological distractions on children
One of our main tasks as parents is to calm our children, that is, provide them with the necessary tools for an adequate emotional regulation in their adulthood. Children by themselves do not learn these skills and only through us will they calm down.
Of course, this is not an easy task. Sometimes we will be the ones that make us even more nervous than the child. What will be the result? We will be transmitting the discomfort to our son and he will not be able to calm down.
There are times when, at this point of frustration, we try to give them food, toys, a mobile phone or a tablet. To our surprise this works; all those sounds, movements, images and colors make our son calm down and therefore we too. Because this has worked for us, we will begin to use it every time we do not get our child to calm down, becoming an overuse at an early age and in full brain development of the child.
All this that makes us return to our calm, generates a series of long-term negative consequences in the child. What negative consequences does the use of new technologies have on children?
We will not be emotionally connecting with what happens to our child and therefore we will not be understanding or helping to resolve what is causing the tantrum or crying. We will be teaching the child to regulate their emotions through distraction, so that there will be an adequate regulation before negative emotional states.
Reward behaviors that do not solve given
The child will learn that to get what he wants he can do it through tantrum and anger. As a consequence, we will not be promoting self-control in the child nor his tolerance for frustration.
Imagine a tantrum in the middle of the supermarket because we have not bought what you asked for. It can be an uncomfortable situation. As we can not calm down, we leave our cell phone so that it is quiet for as long as we keep buying. In this case we will be rewarding their behavior and as I said before we will not be encouraging tolerance to frustration. The child will think: “Well, they have not bought me those trinkets that I have ordered, but in return I have achieved what they rarely leave me.” You have to take no for an answer.
Slowing down your learning
At an early age, symbolic play in children is of special importance. This consists of playing imagining that she is a mom, a teacher or a doctor. Let him imagine feeding his doll or bathing him, that with a stick he finds, he can imagine that it is a toothbrush. This allows us to understand and internalize the world in which they live and surround them.
On the contrary, television or video games do not allow this cognitive work, since there is no possibility to imagine and create from what happens in the material environment.
In infancy the brain connections are still in development, and the use of screens generates addiction. In this case, all the colors, movements and sounds that generate in the child is a kind of fascination, generating an over stimulation in the child. That is why the child remains absorbed when he has one of these devices in his hands.
We can think that the child will be focused and attentive but the reality is that it is not like that. This is a passive attitude to novel stimuli, generating a disconnection of the frontal lobe in the child, which is responsible for care, planning, resolution of problems or working memory, seeing all these functions affected.
Encourage the little one
We will also be sending an implicit message that bothers us in certain situations. A child will always be moving, talking, touching something etc. This is something natural in children, what we are doing with the tablet is to “anesthetize” their behavior and preventing their cognitive development from taking its course.
It gives them a form of evasion
Sometimes, children with emotional problems use technology as a means of disconnection. Video games allow you to be in a parallel and unreal world, in which you do not feel discomfort. This encourages the dissociation of children, that is, disconnecting from oneself and reality, this being an avoidance response, chronicling all the discomfort.
In short, different studies have shown that the premature use of technologies can affect attention, learning, impulsivity, relationship problems, addiction and language problems.
How should we limit the use of technologies in our children?
In the first place, we have to take into account that we are the role model of our children, so we will be the first ones that we have to limit our own use of these devices. We can not scold our son when he is using his cell phone while we eat, if we do the same. If our child is with us, it is important to leave the mobile phone and that time with our child and attend to their needs.
It is important that there are no electronic devices in our children’s room. These should be in a visible place where we can monitor the use that is given.
In consultation, I find many dads who put television on the children so that they eat.
From my point of view, it is important to remove television at lunch time. Intake may be done in a longer time, and it is a time that can be shared as a family.
Today we know that children learn through experiences with the real world and through interaction with adults and their peers. All the experiences that the child can live in their day to day, all interaction with nature, with the game, a look, a smile etc, are those that mark its development and will be decisive in the history and development of his life. Of course this is something that is lost in the interaction with the screens.