Have you ever wondered if your kids really have ADHD? They can spend hours on the TV, glued to the screen. They can spend the entire day on the computer playing games or on the Internet. How is that they have the ability to give the screen so much attention and focus, when any other tasks seem to fall out of the picture?
According to this New York Times article (link below), attention to the screen is actually a symptom of ADHD. The article states, “The kind of concentration that children bring to video games and television is not the kind they need to thrive in school or elsewhere in real life, according to Dr. Christopher Lucas, associate professor of child psychiatry at New York University school of Medicine. ‘It’s not sustained attention in the absence of rewards,’ he said. ‘It’s sustained attention with frequent intermittent rewards.’”
However, there is another side to the cause-and-effect loop. Often, kids who have problems socializing may revert to the screen to seek out electronic companionship. They spend more time alone on the Internet and in the virtual world. It’s a two-way street.
In addition to issues with attention and socialization, researchers believe too much computer time may cause advanced nearsightedness. Though heredity seems to play a significant role in the development of myopia in childhood, some research suggests that computer eye strain may be involved.
To see clearly up close, the eye has to exert focusing effort. Some researchers feel that fatigue caused by excessive focusing can lead to changes within the eye that cause myopia. And experts agree that focusing on images on a computer screen causes greater eye fatigue than reading normal print in a book or magazine.
While I believe that the Internet can be used for good – we have virtual Learn 2 Focus programs for our students! – I also strongly believe that too much screen time can be detrimental to the child’s well-being. In fact, abnormal amount of time in the virtual world can worsen the child’s social interaction with the real world.
My suggestion is pretty straightforward. Limit screen time. The amount depends on your child of course, but consider limiting it to less than two hours a day. Replace television or video with reading, games with family activities, like board games or card games, going to the park, attend a free community event (check out Honolulu Family’s online calendar at http://www.honolulufamily.com/calendar!) or even start a new home project together, like remodeling their room, planting a garden, or learning a new sport. Be creative! It might take a little more work, but consider making the effort and see how your family might become closer during this holiday season.
New York Times Article: