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happylittlegems wellbeing fact of the day:

Excessive screen time damages children's brain development

We all know screens have their benefits, but if we're really honest they are only good for us as parents when we need to get jobs done, when we want half an hours peace or when we go on a long trip somewhere. However, as parents we need to be mindful of the effect screens have on the brain development of our children during a really crucial time in their lives. If you think screens are harmless, please think again!

happylittlegems facts about the effect of screens on brain development:

  • Screens are passive. In order for children's brains to develop they need active nature and to be using all five senses.

  • Excessive screen time can cause attention problems, cognitive problems, sleep problems, eating issues, obesity, and moral and character development issues.

  • Screens need to be used moderately, you must limit screen time with children from zero to eighteen years old.

  • Never substitute screen time for chances to play outside, do a hobby, play with physical toys, reading, imaginative free play or spending time with other people, children or animals. All of these things are far more important for brain development. Children use up to 20% of their possible brain development watching a screen, but could be using 70% or more playing outside in the sand pit.

  • Screen time should be kept to a bare minimum for children under three, more than one hour of screen time per day at this age is likely to do damage to brain development. If you do allow very young children to watch screens have a family member sit with them and teach them what is going on. Children need to understand how to relate what they are seeing on screen to the real world.

  • 70% of young people miss sleep because of online habits. Don't let children or teenagers have screens in their bedrooms in the evenings and make sure they do not have screens at least one hour before bedtime as the blue light suppresses the production of melatonin (the sleep-inducing hormone).

  • Avoid childcare settings that use screens as a babysitter.

  • Do not allow screens at dinner time.

But screens are so important in this digital age I hear you say! Yes, they are part of our lives, but there is no scientific proof that children need screens from a young age to be computer literate. Sequencing can be learned through hundreds of other cognitive tasks - not just on screens.

NB. Screens refer to mobile phones, tablets and TVs. Educational games or programmes count as screen time, however, they are preferable to just 'entertainment' games or programmes.

For more information or advice on screen time please contact

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