Brand SpotlightYour Healthy Family


Your Healthy Family: Impacts of screens on kids' emotional regulation

Posted at 8:30 AM, Jun 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-02 08:30:26-04

Research shows using tablets, TVs, or smartphones to calm a child having a temper tantrum could impact their ability to regulate their emotions long term.

A new study published in JAMA Pediatrics found we should avoid using devices to calm young children, especially young boys.

"When parents use screen time to calm a child's emotions, what they're actually doing is teaching themselves that it works as opposed to teaching a child that they can manage their own feelings," Dr. Michael Manos, a Pediatric Psychologist with Cleveland Clinic Children's, said.

He wasn't involved in the study, but said it's important for children to learn how to manage their emotions and identify their feelings. Otherwise, when they get older, they could have trouble expressing themselves in an appropriate way.

Dr. Manos said when a child is having a tantrum, parents need to teach them how to manage their emotions instead of trying to distract them. He said he knows this can be challenging, especially when a child has trouble explaining exactly what they're feeling. To help with that, Dr. Manos recommends using descriptive language while talking with them, like saying "I can see you're very angry right now."

"The problem with feelings is that many times, children do not know what their feelings are. They cannot give language to their feelings, they cannot name their feelings, and when you are able to name something, you are better able to manage it," Dr. Manos said.

He said another option is to take your child to a quiet, comfortable space so they can get themselves together. Then, when they calm down, talk to them about how they're feeling. He also said don't send them to their room for a time-out like they're being punished.