Giving Children Digital Devices to Calm Tantrums May Increase Behavioral Issues

A new study finds children who are offered tablets and smartphones in an effort to stop a tantrum don’t learn how to regulate their emotions for themselves.

Giving a digital device to a child in an effort to stop a tantrum may lead to worse behavioral problems, a new study finds.

Researchers say ‘digital pacifiers’ prevent kids from learning how to effectively regulate their emotions later in life.

They asked more than 300 parents with children two to five years old to complete questionnaires on their media use.

Children who were regularly offered screens to help calm down had worse anger and frustration management skills a year later, according to the results.

The lead author says, “Children have to learn how to manage their negative emotions for themselves.” And “They need the help of their parents during this learning process, not the help of a digital device.”

The researchers recommend parents coach their children through difficult situations, help them recognize their emotions and teach them to handle them.

But they say these findings highlight the need for more parental support and counseling on the issue. They say increased awareness will benefit children’s mental health and well-being.

Source: Frontiers in Child and Adolescent Psychology

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