Screen alternatives for boys, girls and teens

The child’s brain is nourished by different experiences that begin to impact its development from the environment of the womb. Each experience, environmental change, diet, stimulation environment and, in particular, sensory information that the child experiences throughout his life history, will generate a good or bad mark in the creation and organization of your brain, especially in the first 3 years of life. Therefore, it is very important to keep in mind that the stimulation we and the environment provide to our children will build different neural circuits that will be activated throughout life.

    The problem of digital overstimulation

    In summer, boys and girls usually have a lot of free time, and it is easy for them to invest it in front of the screens. New technologies can be a good educational tool for children from the age of 7 or 8, provided they are used appropriately, in the right time frame and in the right context.

    But the digital overstimulation it is also not suitable for the brain, especially at an early age. Exposing children to screens with an excessive amount of stimuli, would not allow the brain to process them adequately, which could hinder the correct development of different cognitive areas in the future (attention, memory, language, etc.). ). The brain would seek the same threshold of stimuli to which it was exposed, which could generate agitation and difficulties in emotional regulation in the future.

    We must keep in mind that the best alternative for our children to stop staring at screens is the quantity and quality of the time we spend with them. The emotional and not just physical presence of fathers and mothers with their sons and daughters this is what will allow them to leave technologies aside.

      Propose alternatives to screens to improve their development

      What activities can we do with our children this summer to stimulate their brains and avoid screens?

      1. Physical exercise

      Sport generates improved brain function in boys and girls. Specifically, scientists claim that team sports prevent the risk of developing anxiety, depression, attention difficulties, isolation or social problems. Similarly, a recent study shows that aerobic exercise of a certain intensity, such as swimming, improves mood and improves learning and memory.

        2. Contact with nature

        According to several studies, an immersive experience in nature for children, it benefits emotional well-being and academic and cognitive performance.

        3. Board games and crafts

        Doing artistic activities as a family or playing games such as cards, chess, logic or cooperative games will stimulate the sensory, motor and cognitive areas of your brain, in addition to generating an emotional imprint on our children, of this time shared with uswhich will remain etched in his memory.

          4. Free play between equals

          This promotes good development of social skills, just as associative play promotes, among other things, cognitive flexibility (having to constantly readapt to the evolution and the rules of the game) or tolerance to frustration (if they are trapped in the game they must remain immobile and wait for them to save them, they cannot start the game again game by pressing the “Start” as it happens in video games).

          5. Let them get bored

          That the children are bored forces the boy or girl to find their own motivation and thus facilitates the creation of new rules, structures or variables, thus enhancing children’s curiosity and creativity.

          This summer, we can create the best recipe for our children, which contains the following ingredients: lots of affection, natural play and physical exercise, with a little boredom.

          Author: Anabel De La Cruz Sánchez, health psychologist at Vitaliza.

          Bibliographic references

          • Aldana, H. (2008). Overstimulation in the 21st century and possible effects on attention, motivation and curiosity (Doctoral thesis, Universidad Maimónides).
          • Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. (2016). Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth (Ages 5-17): An Integration of Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior and Sleep.
          • Desmurget, M. (2020). How screens harm our children’s brains. Mind and brain, (103), 18-23.
          • Christakis, DA, Ramirez, JSB, Ferguson, SM, Ravinder, S., & Ramirez, JM (2018). How Early Media Exposure May Affect Cognitive Function: A Review of Findings from Observations in Humans and Experiments in Mice. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115(40), 9851-9858.
          • Ferré, J., & Aribau, E. (2002). Neurofunctional development of the child and its disorders. Barcelona: Lebon.
          • Mygind, L., Kjeldsted, E., Hartmeyer, R., Mygind, E., Bølling, M. & Bentsen, P. (2019). Mental, physical and social health benefits of immersive nature experience for children and adolescents: a systematic review and quality assessment of the evidence. Health & place, 58, 102136.
          • RAIN (2022). Team sports linked to fewer mental health problems in children: However, children who exclusively play individual sports are more likely to face mental health problems. ScienceDaily.
          • Zhang, H., Liang, JL, Wu, QY, Li, JX, Liu, Y., Wu, LW, Huang, JL, Wu, XW, Wang, MH & Chen, N. (2022). Swimming suppresses HFD-induced cognitive decline in obese mice by reversing hippocampal inflammation, insulin resistance, and BDNF level. Nutrients, 14(12), 2432. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14122432

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