The screens themselves are not good or bad, the danger lies in their use too early, deregulated and excessive. No child needs them before three years. Technology at too early ages puts the learning of sensitive and fundamental skills at risk, such as empathy, which allows us to put ourselves in the place of the other and adjust our thoughts, attitudes and actions accordingly.
It is only through play, connected with another person, that we learn to socialize and establish the foundations of emotional intelligence. Therefore, the best toy for a child in his early years is another human being: cheerful, curious and creative. Screens can improve children's fine motor skills or information retention, but they do so in isolation, which increases the risk of fragmenting the learning experience and self-absorption.
The baby, since birth, is attentive to decipher the world learning to differentiate and relate tones of voice, gestures, body attitudes, intentions and facts. Through multiple sensory channels, the adult and the baby connect in the same way as a Bluetooth. A sea of sensory, emotional and cognitive information flows between them. Information that is deeply interactive and that modifies us all the time. This information is vital for the early development of our most subtle human qualities. Qualities that are key to generate and inhabit growing states of love, empathy, compassion, joy and peace and, also, to understand and learn from our anger, sadness, envy and greed.
Early and excessive exposure to technology and screens overstimulate the visual and auditory systems, limiting the maturation of certain functions of attention, will, creativity, imagination and symbolic play, which are the pillars of common sense and emotional intelligence
The basis of living and learning to live are closely related to a type of attention that is what manages to sustain what you consider boring. This is essential to learn to tolerate frustration and to delay a long-term good. The basis of learning and study. The screens today are generating a sea of children and young people with difficulties to sustain attention, unless the object of attention is something very novel and stimulating as a screen.
The club, the sports, the neighborhood, the nature, the societies of promotion, the family and the encounter are very good antidotes before the insistent request of the smallest ones by a little more time of games, of cellular, of games. Rather than talking about banning screens, we must actively accompany and reconnect with activities that tune and harmonize body and mind during the first years.
The American Pediatric Society states that before 18 months, no child should be at a screen. Not only does it not need it, but it generates a high risk of interfering with the development of the mind, brain and the whole body. Today severe language, learning, attention and connection disorders are detected in children and adolescents who are overexposed to the screens. The good thing is that by limiting and taking care of their use and generating significant activities, the risks decrease and the children “reconnect” with themselves and with others. The younger we can regulate the use of screens and enjoy with them, the better.
Do not miss the opportunity to be present and alive before the childhood of children. We all have obligations and many times we cannot be home due to work demands. Let's make sure that the people in charge are responsible and know the risks of the screens, because they are very high.
Let us, adults, more recesses to deliberately connect with children. Let's be aware of our use of screens. The world needs more play, joy and nature, and what better than adults to set an example.
The author is a juvenile child psychiatrist