Many parents use screen time as a kid-sitter, enjoying the quiet that descends on their youngsters when in the grip of a video game, social media, a texting exchange, or TV…
Meanwhile, the Pew Research Center recently found that, in 2018, 95% of teens own a smartphone or have access to one, with 45% saying they’re almost constantly online. Plus, 40% take their phones to bed with them!
Why are we surprised, since the lure gets hooked so early on by parents? Indeed, a recent PC Magazine/Google Survey of 1,000 parents found:
- 24% bought tablets for their preschoolers;
- 25% bought tablets for their elementary-aged children.
This despite the well-established fact that screen use—be it using a computer, tablet, mobile, or TV/DVD viewing–that exceeds two hours a day is likely to cause such behavioral problems as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
And that’s not all.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) says that kids who spend more than 7 hours a day of screen time may experience premature thinning of the sensory processing part of the brain—the part responsible for interpreting information from the physical world.
Moreover, according to the Census Bureau’s 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health, 20% of 14- to 17-year-olds who spend all those many screen hours every day are more likely to be diagnosed with depression and anxiety. They were also more easily distracted, less emotionally stable, had more trouble completing tasks, and making friends than those who spent just one hour.
Then there’s the boredom experiment conducted by journalist Manoush Zomorodi who writes that, “A decade ago, we shifted our attention at work about every three minutes. Now we shift our attention every 45 seconds—and we do it all day long.”
Says Tristan Harris, former Google design ethicist and co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology, reminds us that many tech products were designed to be addictive and says, “Our primitive brains are getting hijacked and are super primitive compared to god-like tech.”
Meanwhile, New York Times reporter Nellie Bowles writes, “… Technologists know how phones really work, and many have decided they don’t want their children anywhere near them. A wariness that has been slowly brewing is turning into a region-wide consensus: The benefits of screens as a learning tool are overblown, and the risks for addiction and stunting development seem high…”
Need more convincing?
Former FaceBook executive assistance now with the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative puts it like this: “I am convinced the devil lives in our phones and is wreaking havoc on our children.”
Meanwhile, award-winning Philadelphia Inquirer Maria Panaritis simply likens our cellphones to “live grenades.”
And yet knowing all that, most of us and our kids, too, will keep logging on, much to the glee of tech folks…
~ With my thanks, Carol