Are you always calming a restless child with a screen? Then you don’t learn this important skill, study says family

Watching a movie on the iPad – often – instantly calms kids. Researchers at the University of Michigan have studied the long-term effects of this. Bottom line: Children change their moods less quickly if they are not shown screens. “You’re depriving your child of opportunities to learn how to deal with feelings on their own.”

To keep a child calm in public, parents can use a tool: a screen. A YouTube video on the iPad or a game on the smartphone. There is nothing wrong with that, educators say, if the use remains within limits. New research shows that parents who often use this distraction technique may want to reconsider.

The children switched between moods faster and reacted more impulsively

Scientists at the University of Michigan decided to monitor 422 parents and 422 children ages 3 to 5 between August 2018 and January 2020. They charted how often parents distracted or calmed their children with a screen and looked for possible effects. on the child. They published the results in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

The team found that children who were calmed more by screens were more emotionally disturbed. They changed mood faster and reacted more impulsively. This association was particularly evident in boys and children who were naturally hyperactive, impulsive, or moody.


It would be much healthier and more fulfilling for both the parent and the child if we learned how to deal with the child’s difficult emotions differently

Pediatrician Jenny Radesky, University of Michigan

Bake cookies together, have a rainbow picnic, and craft a diorama: Parents now List of the best screen-free activities.

So it appears that a child who is often soothed with a screen may eventually find it difficult to regulate his emotions on his own, scientists say. “It sounds like a harmless technique, but if you do it regularly as a parent, it can have long-term consequences,” says pediatrician Jenny Radesky of the University of Michigan.

“There is a possibility that you may be depriving a child — especially when they are young — of opportunities to learn how to deal with emotions independently. And often this habit becomes stronger because the child naturally consumes more media.”

The researchers stress that they don’t think screens should be banned entirely. Not only is this difficult, but screens can also be beneficial if used in moderation. They simply aren’t always the ultimate rescue tool. “It would be much healthier and more fulfilling for both parent and child if we learned how to deal with a child’s difficult emotions differently,” says Radesky.

Better tactics to calm or distract your child

Therefore, the researchers recommend a number of tangible screen alternatives. For example, they recommend calming the child with sensory experiences: let them listen to music, play with soft mud or jump on a trampoline, for example. Another idea: Teach your child to recognize and name his feelings. For example, enter a color code for each emotion. Or teach him to redirect his frustrations: It’s better to hit a pillow than your sister. In addition, it is not a good idea to restrict some screen time with a timer or with clear agreements.

It will take persistence on your part to respond calmly to your child’s outbursts. But you’re helping him develop such important lifelong skills around emotional self-regulation.”

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