By Dr. Raymond J. Huntington

Technology is an integral part of life, dominating the way we communicate, learn, work and more. Today’s children spend a lot of time on smartphones and computers, leaving many parents to wonder about the impact of all that screen time. So how exactly does screen time affect your child’s learning and development?

The Positive Effects of Screen Time

Starting with the good, there’s no question that access to digital media has positives for students of all ages. Technology opens up worlds of opportunity to learn and research. Here are just a few of its many benefits:

• Technology and apps aid in learning. There’s an app for everything, whether your child is learning to read or practicing algebra concepts.

• The internet makes it easy to access new information. A quick Google search can help your child discover just about anything.

• Social media can bring people together. Children often use social media to communicate and connect with others.

The Negative Effects of Screen Time

While there are definitely advantages of technology, screen time impacts children’s brains and behavior. Here are some of the negative effects of screen time on children and their learning:

• Decreased focus. Frequent use of digital devices can make it increasingly more difficult for children to maintain focus on things like homework.

• Distraction during class. Many teachers today make it a policy that students’ phones must be stowed in their backpacks during class — and for good reason.

• Disrupted sleep. Blue light-emitting screens can suppress the secretion of melatonin, a hormone produced by the brain in response to darkness that helps people sleep.

• Loss of interest in other things. Like many enjoyable activities, use of digital devices can be all-consuming — and difficult for some children to stop doing.

Screen time is a hot topic these days, but it’s important to keep things in perspective. Not all screen time is bad, and many children develop healthy screen time habits with the help of supportive parents. If your child struggles with healthy screen time or study habits, call Huntington at 1-800 CAN LEARN (226-5327).

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