This month, I have been writing about the benefits of living a simple lifestyle. I have shown you have decluttering helps to reduce anxiety and to prevent the mind from becoming overwhelmed.
Yet my posts have focused on adults living a simpler lifestyle. We often think that living minimalistically is only appropriate for adults, and possibly only single adults. Children need lots of toys to learn and grow, right? They need toys, and they need a schedule full of enrichment activities.
Today's children are used to experiencing a very high level of stimulation, with electronic toys, television, and full schedules. In fact, schools are adapting to this level of stimulation by understanding that children are not going to remain quiet and seated for long periods of time, as they have in the past. This is just the way things are now.
But is it the best thing for children? Are we doing our children a disservice by living a simpler lifestyle? Does exposure to high levels of stimulation have their developing brains and give them advantages in life?
I decided to research and find out. I have looked at studies on simple lifestyles and levels of stimulation, to determine whether living a quieter, calmer, simpler lifestyle is helpful or harmful to children.
Here are the findings from my research.
1. Watching too Much Television Can Lead to Attention Problems in Children
Marilyn Price Mitchell, PHD, wrote about various studies on the effects of overstimulation, on her blog, Roots of Action. She focused specifically on studies that examined the effects of television viewing. Shows with frequent scene changes, especially, were linked to attention problems later in childhood. Slower shows, as well as other cognitive stimulation, were likely to improve attentiveness.
2. Overstimulation Can Cause Cognitive Deficits in Children
Tracey Marks, MD, wrote an article about overstimulation on the Huffington Post. She cited a study linking overstimulation to impaired executive functioning in children. Executive functioning is a set of skills necessary for beginning and completing tasks. These skills include: problem solving, planning, memory, and inhibition control. The study she cited only looked at fast-paced television, which is defined as shows that change scenes every 30 seconds or less. Sponge Bob is an example of this; Caillou is an example of a slower-paced show, which is less harmful. Excessive fast-paced television has also been linked to sleeping problems.
3. Too Many Toys May Limit Attention Span
In the blog, A Perfect Playroom, Natalie, a former teacher, looked at studies investigating the negative effects of having too many toys. The overstimulation caused by a cluttered playroom has been linked to problems with attention span. Limiting toys, in the studies, resulted in better communication and interaction with other children.
4. Chronic Lack of Sleep Causes Problems for Adults
According to Marks, overstimulation increases the effects of stress in adults. It can also disrupt sleep cycles, which exaserbates the effects of stress as well. Adults who are constantly overstimulated are also more likely to face mental fatigue and burnout.
5. Overstimulation May Lead to Sensory and Sensitivity Issues
Susan Mendi, a psychologist, wrote this article. She states that modern life has made it necessary for our brains to quickly shift from one activity to another, which has increased the incidence of ADHD and sensory processing disorder. Being constantly overstimulated can lead to mental and physical symptoms that people often blame on other environmental causes. These symptoms can include feeling constantly overwhelmed and having difficulty following conversations in crowded areas. Decreasing overstimulation, according to Mendi, will decrease these symptoms.
We are not doing anything wrong by leading a slower, possibly less glamorous lifestyle. Multi-tasking and overbooking our child are not beneficial activities, no matter how respected they are in society. In order to fully access our cognitive abilities, we all would do well to slow down the pace.
Are you interested in living a simpler lifestyle but don't know where to start? Then, my Simple Living Basics Interactive E-Course is perfect for you. You will join a community of people who are working to simplify, and there are many discounts available for a limited time. The course starts July 1.
In the meantime, check out my Minimalist Lifestyle: Getting Started self-paced e-course. For only $12, it is a bargain, and a great introduction to the format and style of all my e-courses.