We are going through the era of modern technology and revolution. Man made progress, achieved awareness with intellect given by Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ). He made ingenious inventions through which the human vision expanded and imagination was further developed. Yet, this modern revolution also exposed us to many adverse situations leading to spoiling of the future generation.
This “spoiling” was done at a large spectrum including affecting the children’s spiritually, physically, socially, morally and psychologically. The main reason for this decline is that modern inventions like internet, devices, mobile, T.V and computer excessed the screen time for a child. These sources have increased the tendency to stick to or “get addicted to” the internet. Excessive screen time can be harmful for children. It causes obesity, irregular sleep, behavioral problems, instills violence and takes away from play time. Let’s see its side effects and negative influences on our children in this article.
1. Spiritual Demerits/Dangers for the soul
The effects of media on the soul are very dangerous. When a person spends a lot of time on media, it obviously diverts him/her from worship and remembrance of Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ). Through its occupation of the mind and heart, the screen causes serious damage to the soul of the child. It leads to ignoring of worship and religious affairs. As a matter of fact, Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) has created a creature for a particular task that is ibadah (worship) as the Qur’an states:-
وَمَا خَلَقۡتُ الۡجِنَّ وَالۡاِنۡسَ اِلَّا لِيَعۡبُدُوۡنِ
And I did not create the Jinns and the human beings except that they should worship Me.”
(Surah Ad-Dariyat: 56)
When a child will waste a lot of time on media, he/she will no find time to memorize the Holy Qur’an or be interested in other teachings of Islam.
2. Social Demerits/ Dangers to social development
Too much screen time can be linked to behavioral problems. It will be a cause to countless exposure to unethical values that are not part of Islamic teaching.
Some of these are obvious like social mixing between males and females, inappropriate dress, aggression, unacceptable social behavior and celebrating of Non-Muslim events. Small children also spoil through imitation. Research has proved that children who observe aggressive behavior on screen become more aggressive than others who are not so exposed.
Materialism is another factor to change the moral values of our children. The love for this world is taught through the time spent with these luxuries and it takes them away from the final goal of achieving the Akhirah.
3. Dangers to physical Health
If your child spends more time to gadgets and sitting around, the child is more at risk of of becoming overweight. Several mental diseases follow the excess screen time. Children can also develop an appetite for junk food which is promoted through ads. Islam encourages a healthy lifestyle to build a strong and healthy Believer as is stated in a hadith. The Prophet ﷺ said:
المؤمنُ القويُّ خيرٌ وأحبُّ إلى اللهِ مِنَ المؤمنِ الضَّعيفِ وفي كلٍّ خيرٌ. احْرِصْ على ما يَنفعُكَ، واسْتَعنْ باللهِ ولا تَعجزْ. وإنَّ أصابك شيءٌ فلا تقلْ: لو أنِّي فعلتُ كان كذا وكذا، ولكن قُلْ: قدَر اللهِ وما شاءَ فَعَل، فإنَّ (لَوْ) تَفتحُ عملَ الشَّيطانِ.
Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger ﷺ as saying:
A strong believer is better and is more lovable to Allah than a weak believer, and there is good in everyone, (but) cherish that which gives you benefit (in the Hereafter) and seek help from Allah and do not lose heart, and if anything (in the form of trouble) comes to you, don’t say: If I had not done that, it would not have happened so and so, but say: Allah did that what He had ordained to do and your” if” opens the (gate) for the Satan.
(Sahih Muslim, Kitab ul Qadar, Hadith No:2664)
Irregular sleep is also a major issue for health. Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) has created the sleep for rest as described by the Holy Qur’an:-
وَمِنْ اٰيَاتِهٖ مَنَامُكُمْ بِاللَّيْلِ وَالنَّـهَارِ وَابْتِغَآؤُكُمْ مِّنْ فَضْلِـهٖ ۚ اِنَّ فِىْ ذٰلِكَ لَاٰيَاتٍ لِّـقَوْمٍ يَسْـمَعُوْنَ۔
Surely in this there are signs for a people wo listen. And of His signs is your sleeping by night and daytime, and your seeking after His Grace.
(Surah Ar-Rum: 23)
Psychology and medical science also suggest that 7.5 hours sleep is also required for good health.
The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages media use by children younger than two and recommends limiting older children’s screen time to no more than one or two hours a day.
4. Dangers to Intellectual and Psychological Health
My respected teacher Dr. Ayesha Hamdan wrote in her book:-
When a child is born, he tpossesses all of t he brain cells/ neurons that he will have for his lifetime, although these cells are not yet fully developed. This progression occur early in life through interaction with others, stimulation from the outside world, and the love and care of parent. Television / Screen has actually been found to be harmful for the process, not allowing the brain to complete its full development.[i]
It is said that to use the screen/television one hour, it will reduce the creative activity of a child half an hour. A research has been made by Patty Rebek (the director of the psychology program in Shakago) Rebek says: Those children who see the screen excessive time without a limit, lose their creative abilities. Their lives become stagnant.[ii]
5. Screen is Wasting Time
Islam encourages time management. The system of nature calls for punctuality۔ sun, moon and stars rise at their time and teach us regularly. If a person devalue of time and rebellious against nature, he takes the loss in this world and hereafter.
The Holy Quran narrated:-
وَهُمْ يَصْطَرِخُونَ فِيهَا رَبَّنَآ أَخْرِجْنَا نَعْمَلْ صَٰلِحًا غَيْرَ ٱلَّذِى كُنَّا نَعْمَلُ ۚ أَوَلَمْ نُعَمِّرْكُم مَّا يَتَذَكَّرُ فِيهِ مَن تَذَكَّرَ وَجَآءَكُمُ ٱلنَّذِيرُ ۖ فَذُوقُوا۟ فَمَا لِلظَّٰلِمِينَ مِن نَّصِيرٍ.
And they shall cry therein for succour: O our Lord! take us out, we will do good deeds other than those which we used to do. Did We not preserve you alive long enough, so that he who would be mindful in it should mind? And there came to you the warner; therefore taste; because for the unjust, there is no helper.
[Surah Fatir Ayat:37]
The Holy Prophet ﷺ also said about the value of time:-
عن ابن عباسؓ قال قال رسول اللہ ﷺ : نعمتانِ مغبون فیھما کثیر من الناسِ ،الصحۃ و الفراغ
(صحیح بخاری ،کتاب الرقاق ،باب ماجاء فی الرقاق ۔۔الخ)
Ibn ‘Abbas narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
Two favors that many of the people squander are health and free time.
We should think that our child is spending time with the gadget beyond what can be beneficial, so start monitoring. Talk to your child about the importance of time. Also, have some screen time rules in place and consequences in case of breaking them.
Here are a few suggestions that might help with managing your child’ screen time:
1. Plan what your child views
If you want to take the time children to see the screen for limited time. Then seek quality videos, about knowledge beneficial and historical programmes for children. Use parental control setting on your device like moblie, computers or tabs. Preview all the video games, smartphone applications before to allow your child with play them. Through this you can provide entertainment to your children in a proper and safe way.
2. Occasionally, watch what your child watches
Whenever you allot a limited time to your children for watching screen, arrange and try to sit down and spend that time with your child watching whatever program he/she watches. Talk to them and understand what they see. Maybe initiate a discussion on moral values, family issues, violence, drug abuse, junk food etc. Explain to your children that just because it’s on screen, it doesn’t mean it’s acceptable in eyes of Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) and is beneficial for your health.
3. Guide your children how to use the screen
As a parent, we have an obligation to guide the children to the understanding that screen is a tool. Like every tool it can be beneficial and harmful depending upon its use. We should help to teach the ways to use it in a useful manner. We should teach our kids that screens and technology are not categorically “bad” influences. They can be tools for connection, learning and growth, too.
As a sum up, let’s understand how we can help our children understand the use of screen time in its correct perspective so they benefit from it and not become addicted to it to harm them and their Deen as a consequence.
وما توفیقی الا باللہ۔
[i] Nurturing Eeman In Children by Dr. Ayesha Hamdan, page 199
[ii] Book , The Concept of Tarbia in Islam by Urwa Zubair page:9