Kids who get too much "screen time" -- through watching lots of TV, surfing the Internet and playing video games -- tend to perform poorly at school. Researchers have found the brain releases dopamine, a chemical related to attention and focus, when kids watch TV or play video games -- something that gives the child a "stimulus surge." With too much screen time, kids get desensitized and can't focus on something like a book without that super-stimulating effect.
Another study examined boys aged 6 to 9 and the relationship between video games and their declining reading skills. The boys didn't seem to have any underlying reading problems; researchers speculate that their desire to play video games just surpassed the time they devoted to reading and writing, bringing down their abilities.
So, what's a parent to do, especially with computers a part of school curriculum these days?
- Limit screen time, especially if computer homework is a part of their evening. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends one to two hours per day for children over two, and none for kids younger.
- Talk with and read to your children -- along with the quality time spent, this puts your kids in a language-rich environment.
- Be involved in their academics, even on the computer. Watching your child do his math online lets you encourage him, help him and see his problem-solving skills in action.