The UK Telegraph reports that Taiwan has ordered parents to limit children’s time with electronic games and that parents in Taiwan face hefty fines if they let their children spend too long viewing televisions or playing video games. Does research support the idea that bad media choices and screen time damage kids’ brains?
A new documentary, “Web Junkie” premieres on POV (PBS). It covers China’s efforts and responses to Internet Addiction, especially with kids.
On The Huffington Post, Chris Rown, pediatric occupational therapist, states “Technology’s impact on the 21st century family is fracturing its very foundation, and causing a disintegration of core values that long ago were the fabric that held families together. ”
Ongoing research and documentaries provide a strong case for the critical need for careful and limited media choices for youth and for parental guidance. There is good news and that is that as parents study child development from many valuable online, reputable resources and what is appropriate for children and youths given their development, that parents can make a difference for the young people in their care.
The New York Times has presented a report from the study “Children, Adolescents, and the Media,” in which the American Academy of Pediatrics has cited statistics from a Kaiser Family Foundation study that has revealed that the average 8- to 10-year-old has spent nearly eight hours a day with a variety of different media, and older children and teenagers have spent more than 11 hours per day. Television, which has long a popular “babysitter,” has been taken over by computers, tablets and cellphones. The American Academy of Pediatrics has also reported that many parents have few rules about use of media by their children and adolescents and that two-thirds of those questioned in the Kaiser study said their parents had no rules about how much time the youngsters spent with media.
Huffington Post‘s Cris Rowan has also reported the effects of screen time, especially with hand-held devices, on children in relationship to the development of their brains. Here is some of what she has reviewed from the The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Society of Pediatrics:
Infants brains triple in size between 0 and 2 years and continue in rapid development to 21 years of age. Stimulation to a developing brain with overexposure to technologies (cell phones, internet, iPads, TV) has been correlated with attention deficit, cognitive delays, impaired learning, increased impulsivity and decreased ability to self-regulate (Small 2008, Pagini 2010).
Technology that restricts movement has been correlated with delayed development in children. One in three children enter school developmentally delayed and dificient for literacy and academic achievement (HELP EDI Maps 2013). Movement has been correlated to attention and learning ability (Ratey 2008). Use of technology under the age of 12 years has been correlated to child development and learning (Rowan 2010).
TV and video game use has been correlated with increased obesity (Tremblay 2005). Children, who have been allowed a device in their bedrooms have 30% increased incidence of obesity (Feng 2011). 30% of children with obesity will develop diabetes. Obese individuals are at higher risk for early stroke, heart attack, and shortened life expectancy (Center for Disease Control and Prevention 2010).
60% of parents have not supervised their children’s technology use and 75% of children have been allowed technology in their bedrooms (Kaiser Foundation 2010). 75% of children aged 9 and 10 years have been sleep deprived with a correlation to detrimentally impacted grades in school. (Boston College 2012).
Overuse of technology has been correlated with child depression, anxiety, attachment disorder, attention deficit, autism, bipolar disorder, psychosis and problematic child behavior (Bristol University 2010, Mentzoni 2011, Shin 2011, Liberatore 2011, Robinson 2008). One in six Canadian children have had a diagnosed mental illness, many of whom are on dangerous psychotropic medication (Waddell 2007). (Prescribed psychotropic, psychiatric drug use due to depression has been has been linked to young male shooters in recent decades, including the S.C. church massacre recently.)
Violent media content has been correlated to child aggression (Anderson, 2007). Young children are increasingly exposed to rising incidence of physical and sexual violence in today’s media.
High speed media content has been correlated to attention deficit, decreased concentration and memory, due to the brain pruning neuronal tracks to the frontal cortex (Christakis 2004, Small 2008). Children who can’t pay attention have difficulty learning.
As parents have been attaching more and more to technology, they have been are detaching from their children. In the absence of parental attachment, detached children can attach to devices, which can result in addiction (Rowan 2010). One in 11 children aged 8-18 years are addicted to technology (Gentile 2009).
Research shows that parental vigilance, knowledge, and guidance is critical and can make difference.
Written by Diane Howard, Ph.D. (Performance Studies), dianehoward.com