Screen time excesses harm children’s development


Is Your Child Glued to a Gadget?

Research is showing us that unless we can help children reduce screen time we may be setting them up with bad habits that could take a lifetime of hard work to break.

Children’s behaviour is known to become agitated due to being highly stimulated with over use of technology.

Their sleep, appetite, cognitive functioning, emotions and moods can be affected and they can become less able to relate to, and empathise with others.

The World Health Organisation have suggested different screen time caps for different age groups. Parents have found it surprising that ZERO hours screen time is advised for children under 2 years.

screen time guidelines WHO

However,  more and research is emerging showing that spending ANY time in front of screens can be detrimental:

Digital Dementia?

Recently German researchers: Supper and Teuchert-Noodt, in their study published June 2021 have proven that children’s working memory is affected with increased phone use. Tests were set up for a number of children and the findings were that they were less able to recall the information they had learnt only 20 minutes earlier! The negative impact on a child’s brain from even a short amount of time looking at screens cannot be over-emphasised.

Author and neurologist, Manfred Spitzer notes that younger children are now relying on technology for play activities which greatly limit the “challenges” that aid their sensory and motor development. He found that this had a negative impact on the imagination, creative intuitive and the right side of the brain which deals with emotions. Emotional disturbances leading to depression in those who over-use technology were also mentioned.

Dr Meghan Owenz from <> emphasises that ‘Reducing tech at bed time, before school, meal times and in the car can be beneficial to wean children away from screen time”

Children who are highly stimulated by, and who over-use technology also have their ability to relate to, and empathise with others impaired……..Imagine the social impact!

Writer, Victoria Dunckley (2015) has found that the solution for the over-use of screens are digital fasts” to enable the nervous system to “reset”, which should improve sleep and to help encourage more “face to face” contact.

Wireless Technology

Did you know that there are NO safety studies showing that microwave radiation exposure from wireless internet (Wi-Fi) in children is safe? In fact independent studies show that harmful microwave radiation emitted from mobile phones, mobile masts, cordless phones and Wi-Fi routers penetrate proportionally deeper into the brains of children aged 5 and 10, compared to adults brains (Gandhi et al. 1996.).

Organisations such as the Environmental Health Trust emphasise that there are quick and easy ways to reduce microwave radiation exposure to children at home by hardwiring Wi-Fi using an Ethernet cable, limiting time spent on gadgets and switching off at the mains when not in use. Their handy guides are a helpful aid to cutting down microwave exposure.


Did you know that something as simple as play can help?! Research has shown that simple activities can be used to repair some of the damage caused by screens. When used repeatedly, daily, sensory inputs help to calm the lower brain systems and provide a foundation for social connection, engagement and higher-level thinking (reason). Examples of sensory inputs include:

  • Trampolining, swimming, most sports,
  • Reading
  • Singing
  • Storytelling
  • Board games
  • Dancing
  • Drawing, painting or “messy play”
  • Reading books and
  • Non-directed play

Play therapists, Filial therapists and Parent-Child Attachment Play practitioners can help provide advice to parents and care-givers on providing therapeutic and creative interventions for children.

 Green and Blue Spaces – More Solutions!

The UK Government recognise that being in nature and close to water sources has been scientifically proven to bring health and well-being benefits to all. Those who spend time out doors with children can see with their own eyes how younger and older children can benefit from easy access to a host of sensory and tactile play things from nature’s free toolbox. Natural immune boosting mood enhancers are found in abundance, (ie plants and flowers) while trees themselves release a feel good chemical which has an essential oil-like effect bringing calmness and lifting moods. Simple things such as sitting or lying on the earth helps self-regulation, calming the body’s lower brain systems. Being in nature, enables children to take a break from using digital devices and helps them to be fully present in the here and now! It’s even better if you have wellies and waterproofs and can go outside whatever the weather. If organised activities are more your child’s thing, find out how to join a Forrest School or outdoor group in your area.

  • If your child’s behaviour is continuing to be challenging due to their time online, contact Sarah to discuss a series of Play Therapy sessions. (See details at the bottom of the page.)
  • For Parent Child Attachment Play information please CLICK HERE
  • For more information on all the above please see my News Blog article on Children and Young People’s Mental health During and After the Pandemic: CLICK HERE
  • For a fact sheet on Screen Time: CLICK HERE

Please visit Creative-Me Play Therapy or contact Sarah Foster on <>

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