Forty years ago, when television was king, women joked about setting the table with the remote control next to the fork. If you look at today’s screen culture, you’ll find that many kids spend more time on screen than they do in sleep or in full- or part-time jobs. With more screen learning in schools and her COVID-19 shutdown, the mix of video games, smartphones, laptops, and tablets that have pretty much captured kids today.
But is staring at a screen a harmless waste of time? Scientific studies show that it actually causes negative changes in children’s brain development. For example, a study published in the International Journal of Sociology of the Family in 2021 found that excessive screen time was associated with “atrophy of the frontal, striatal, and insular areas of the brain,” particularly a reduction in brain thickness. It is said that Orbitofrontal cortex. “Thinning of the orbitofrontal cortex has also been shown to have a significant impact on memory and may increase the incidence of obsessive-compulsive disorder,” said the paper.
Excessive screen use is also associated with lower “crystallized and fluid intelligence” and lower executive function, write the paper’s authors. What are executive functions? plan, remember instructions, pay attention, multitask, switch between tasks, delay gratification, control impulses, process sensory input, regulate social behavior, and even have an ego brain activity awareness that is essential in adulthood, such as ability. A young man may look fully grown, but excessive use of the screen can be very dangerous because executive functions do not fully develop until his mid-to-late twenties.
A recent study published in the Journal of Pediatrics found that just one hour of screen time a day reduced executive function in 2-year-olds. A study published in Preventive Medicine Reports found that when children and adolescents aged 2 to her 17 looked at a screen for just one hour a day, they became less curious, less self-controlled, and more easily distracted. I understand. Unfortunately, according to CommonSense Media research, her teen currently averages over nine hours of screen time per day, while her 8-year-old to her 12-year-old averages eight hours a day. .
Studies in the journal Environmental Research reiterate that structural changes in the brain and cognitive and emotional regulation are associated with excessive screen time. We also provide a case study in which screen time may have added to ADHD diagnosis in a 9-year-old boy.
Executive function is clearly fundamental to academic performance, but what does screen-based learning, which outperforms so many educational settings, mean for children? A study conducted at the Military Academy found that “unlimited use of laptops lowered students’ test scores by 0.18 standard deviations” and “tablet use lowered scores by 0.17 standard deviations.” I understand. A- for the student’s grade point average when generalized, the researchers reported in the journal Education Next.
“We also looked separately at subgroups of students defined based on gender, race, college entrance exam scores, and GPA inputs. There is some suggestive evidence that allowing computers is more harmful for boys than for girls, and for students with relatively higher entrance-exam scores. ,” the researchers summed up.
One of the reasons computers do not improve academic performance is that computers are a distraction rather than an education.
Melanie Hempe, founder of ScreenStrong, an organization that helps parents limit their children’s screen time, and Epoch Times contributor, believes that it’s not about using computers, but about “remembering” facts. They believe that screens interfere with academic learning, such as making it easier to find computers in school. This is a practice sometimes called “cognitive offloading”. According to Hempe, taking notes by hand rather than using a computer will make better use of your memory. “Like any muscle, the brain needs to think deeply and critically, not just practice data entry skills or search for quick answers to complete tasks,” she says. points out.
Writing doesn’t seem to benefit from screen time either. A screen-based child may have a myriad of “websites out of the box”, but “can’t seem to complete a research paper in a reasonable amount of time” or “can’t seem to write a paragraph.” To him it might take twice as long. People working without a screen.
Even early research on screen-based learning in schools raised concerns. Researchers contributing to the journal Pediatrics in 2006 linked television and video game screen time to poorer academic performance, and a study published in the journal South African Family Practice in 2004 found that “children’s sedentary screen linked “basic behavior” with mental health effects and reduced physical activity. , digital eyestrain.
Special Concerns About Generation Z and the Selfie Era
Jonathan Haidt, professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business and author of “The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up A Generation for Failure,” argues that screen time is changing generations. I am particularly concerned about the impact it will have. Z—People born between 1997 and 2012.
Facebook, Instagram and the “selfie era” began when Generation Z babies were in their mid-teens, said Heidt, who said he built his childhood “mainly on the phone.” I’m here.
“You appear social because you are communicating with people.
Republican Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher took the danger one step further, describing the popular app TikTok as “digital fentanyl” in Meet The Press.
Potential Emotional and Physical Effects of Screens
Few parents would be surprised to learn that excessive screen use is associated with emotional problems such as depression and anxiety. A study published in Preventive Medicine Reports found that moderate screen use was associated with poorer psychological health, with high screen use associated with diagnoses of depression and anxiety, as well as mental health professional was found to more than double the likelihood of drug treatment in children. psychological or behavioral problems;
A study published in the journal Preventive Medicine found that long screen time and the accompanying inadequate physical activity “interacted to increase depression, anxiety symptoms, and dissatisfaction with school life among Chinese adolescents.” It reflects that.
Physical changes that can result from excessive screen time include sleep deprivation. Screen light suppresses melatonin, and researchers in the journal Pediatrics wrote that unrestricted screen access in a child’s bedroom causes “poor rest or sleep.” Sadly, sleep deprivation is linked to physical problems and “cardiovascular disease risk factors such as high blood pressure, obesity, low HDL cholesterol, poor stress regulation (high sympathetic excitability and cortisol dysregulation), and insulin resistance.” is also related. Journal Environmental Studies. “Other physical health effects include vision impairment and loss of bone density.”
Social and more emotional effects
Clearly on-screen activity is usually solitary, and even video calling is no substitute for face-to-face interaction in social settings. Too much screen time undermines healthy socialization in children I know that. Researchers have linked excessive screen use in children to difficulty making friends, reduced prosocial behavior, and increased risk of antisocial behavior.
Excessive screen time can also lead to outbursts and anger, according to screen-use experts. That fact is also attested by countless parents who have worked to set screen time limits for their children.
A juvenile probation officer told ScreenStrong founder Hempe: A mother bought a phone as a reward for her son because he did well in school. When his use got out of control, she tried to take her phone and he hit her. Many children find their way into the juvenile justice system this way. ”
Outdoor play and lack of sunlight
Clearly, children who engage in screen time, especially video games, are not playing outside with other children the way their parents were. Denying us exercise, dating, vitamin D, and nature’s healing powers. For example, immersion in forests and forests, often called forest bathing, “has been hypothesized to be directly related to the release of phytoncides from various tree species,” says the International Sociological Journal of Family Studies. study said. Phytoncides are antibacterial allelochemical organic compounds found in essential her tree oil.
“[P]Hytoncide has a profound effect on GABA receptors that strengthen the immune and endocrine systems, resulting in improved overall physiological and psychological health,” the researchers wrote.
Other benefits of forest bathing include reducing anxiety, stress hormones, tension, anger and fatigue, improving immune function and blood sugar levels. It is also used as a treatment for type 2 diabetes, which is increasing as children embrace screen entertainment.
what parents can do
Screen time is a habit, so Melanie Hempe suggests that parents break the cues that lead their kids to the screen. Hempe gives the example of a little boy who used to go straight to her room after school to play video games. One day, the boy’s mother announced that he would be jumping on the trampoline with the kids after school, immediately breaking the screen habit and introducing the kids to fun non-screen based entertainment.
In addition to breaking habits and cues, parents should encourage outdoor activities whenever possible. I have.
Yes, many parents get angry when their habits are denied, but parents should not back down. [I]If your child says he or she needs a smartphone for distance learning or to share updates with friends, don’t buy one,” Hempe advises. “They also want ice cream her sandwiches all day and popcorn for dinner,” she wrote in Epoch Her Times.
Parents, visit the ScreenStrong site for more information on how to protect your child from the harmful effects of excessive screen time without losing the many positive effects of technology.