Srinagar: A new study by the Government Medical College Srinagar has found that increased digital screen-time has ill effects both on the physical as well as mental health of the children.
The study said it was important to have a well-thought approach to the role of the Internet and digital devices in teaching and learning.
The study on the “increase in screen-time for children during COVID times and its effects” was carried out by the Department of Community Medicine, GMC Srinagar and it has been published in the Journal of Integrative Medicine and Public Health, an in- house journal of the college.
The study has been co authored by four GMC faculty S Muhammad Salim Khan, Sabira Aalia Dkhar, Ruqia Quansar and Inaamul Haq.
A total of 307 parents participated in the study and were analyzed.
The study said though the digital medium can be beneficial in many ways, providing access to quality education even during these unclear times, however increased exposure to the screen can be harmful to a child’s health in many ways.
The maximum number of children studied belonged to the age group of 6-10 years and most were males (56.1%). The phone (68.7%) was the most commonly used device. 54.4% of children did not owe an electronic device. Approximately 62.9% of parents consider their children addicted to their phones.
“ Excess screen time does not openly hamper learning capabilities, but can lead to adiposity, attention deficiency, and extreme mood alterations in children, which in turn disrupts learning capabilities,” the study revealed. It added that there are growing apprehensions that this exposure to electronics could have negative effects on the growth and development of children.
Around 94.1% of parents were in agreement with the fact that the increased screen-time or increased use of devices/phones was affecting the mental wellbeing of the children, whereas only 5.9% were not in agreement with the statement.
“The use of smart devices/phones leads to poor concentration and emotional and mood instability and poor self-control. The user may also be associated with anxiety and depression and poor interpersonal relationships. Similar findings were also reported in studies,” the study said. adding “the use of electronic media acts like a digital drug for our brain and this releases dopamine in our brain which have a negative effect on impulse control.”
The present scenario in wake of COVID-19 has brought to the forefront the need to revisit the concept of screen time from a health perspective. the study said.
“This is important given the exclusive reliance on time spent looking at the screen as a measure to ensure healthy use of the Internet and Internet-enabled devices. There is a need to look beyond the absolute amount of time children and adolescents spend looking at the digital screens. Hence, it is important to have a well-thought approach to the role of the Internet and digital devices in teaching and learning,” the study concluded.