Have you noticed lately how our children seem to be developing accents with an American twang? We don’t mean excessive use of “y’all”, “howdy” or using words like refrigerator, garbage and zucchini, but you have noticed an inclination – haven’t you? If, like many other parents you have, there may be a reason: screen time.


On average, children spend up to three hours a day watching screens of one type or another and ingesting the content by the bucketload, not limited to but much of it delivered from the media industry of the USA. In Britain, as an example, it’s estimated that by the age of ten children have access to no fewer than five different screen devices. Technological advances are part of modern living and  – by in large – a welcome addition to our lives. Indeed, we’re the first generation to have been raised with TV, whom now parent the next generation of children using colour, enhanced TV and interactive screens of various kinds. Relatively speaking, this is a new phenomenon and it’s the psychosocial and developmental impact that is catching attention, for good reason, too.   


If screen time has such potential significance on accent and language development, then we need to press the pause button and take stock of this most influential of activities. Screen time and play appears to be vying in a big way for our children’s attention. Play (which includes symbolic games, role play and ‘make believe’) helps children develop the necessary skills required for mastery of myriad tasks. Whereas the instant gratification of screen activities poses a question as to how children learn to manage frustration and aggression as a psychological function of the mind. Screen time requires very little, if zero, action. So how do children process all this content?


This is a challenge worth noting for parenting in the 21st century, as there is a concern that the psychological potential for psychic retreat occurs as a result of excessive screen time. An important point to note: human brain development is unfinished at birth and is additionally reshuffled during adolescence, so how does frustration and aggression – an important developmental imperative – get managed if it’s in the virtual world?


If it sounds like a challenge and a headache to understand, don’t worry. As parents, we’re not attacking the invention of TV, outlawing American sitcoms or banning screen time but we do want to develop our understanding about its psychological and developmental impact on our children.


If this rings a bell and you’re interested in learning more about this topic, or related ones, drop us a line here at info@parentalpathways.ie

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