Using screens to calm your kids could be damaging, a new study has revealed.
Every parent has at some stage put a screen in front of their child to calm them down or to keep them entertained and quiet.
But using screens as a constant calming technique could be damaging to them, according to new research.
The team found that increased use of devices as calming mechanisms was linked to greater emotional reactivity or dysregulation in the kids studied over the course of several months.
Using screens to calm your kids could be damaging
This basically means rapid mood shifts and heightened impulsivity.
The association was particularly strong in young boys and in children who already had signs of hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and a strong temperament.
What the researchers summized was that these gadgets can prevent kids from developing their own ways of regulating emotions.
Researchers looked at the way digital devices were used to soothe upset children aged between 3 and 5 years old.
The study involved 422 parents and the same number of children and was carried out between August 2018 and January 2020.
As any parent or carer would know, the age group looked at in the study includes kids that are particularly prone to tantrums, which makes the option of using a tablet or a phone to calm them down all the more appealing.
And it works; but what the researchers are suggesting is that short-term relief from an upset child might be leading to long-term problems with their emotional development because they're not learning coping mechanisms from within.
The researchers aren't saying all screens should be banned outright, but rather that other options for calming kids down -such as sensory experiences (from listening to music to squishing putty in their hands to jumping on a trampoline), and the deliberate naming of emotions to help understand them.
Color-coding emotions can also help kids learn, identify and understand their moods, and easily communicate how they are feeling.
Offering replacement behaviors, including hitting a pillow, rather than hitting a sibling or a friend, can also help.
The research has been published in JAMA Pediatrics.