The scientific data on how screen time effects the brain?
Extra! Extra! Read all about it!
Read this article and watch this video very, very closely. Many supporters of the Learn With Moxie mission checked in with me last night to ensure I would be tuned into 60 Minutes. Suffice to say, I felt nauseous as the segment concluded. This may come as a surprise to you. While most folks tuning in, found this to be fascinating research or were impressed by this groundbreaking study, I was left feeling heavy hearted and concerned.
I understand we need concrete evidence and data to scientifically back what we are all surmising and assuming, which is all this screen time has an impact on our children’s developing brains and their mental wellness. To simply say that, without the evidence, is no different than someone years ago saying, cigarettes cause lung cancer without having the scientific proof.
Capture and keep kids attention
Tristan Harris, a former Google manager, publicly shared that phones and apps are designed to capture and keep kids attention. I realize that doesn’t necessarily translate to addiction, but it isn’t for lack of trying apparently.
Let’s now turn our attention to Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University and author of iGen. She spent many years combing through four national surveys of 11 million young people since the 60’s. She noticed that depression and loneliness spiked in a matter of four years ( 2012-2016 ), which was when smartphones gained widespread use among young people. Interestingly, she wasn’t able to identify any other factors that played a role other than the growing popularity of the smartphone and social media.
ER visits for self harm and cutting have tripled among girls 10 to 14. Ms. Twenge is clearly devoted to this topic and seems concerned. However, a woman of her intelligence, then turns around and says, Facebook and Instagram have introduced settings to allow users to monitor app use. Apple, has implemented features for parents to set up restrictions.
What she failed to share, or maybe she doesn’t know, is that all of the features these companies have put in place allow for user override. These are not locks built in from the manufacturer, they are put in by the user and able to be taken away by the user.
Time to experiment and test the hypothesis
The federal government through the NIH is embarking on a $300 million dollar step 5 of the Scientific Method. Let me be clear, 11,000 children ages 9 and 10 will be guinea pigs for ten years to be a part of, “a natural kind of uncontrolled experiment on the next generation.” The information Dr.Gaya Dowling provided during the interview was already incredibly alarming and they aren’t even into the full study to gather what I suspect will be MORE alarming information.
The cortex of the brain is thinning, although, they are still uncertain if that pertains to device use or not. Well isn’t that just great?! What if they discover that device use IS responsible for the thinning cortex? Oh well! I guess my kid has a prematurely thin cortex which relates to processing info from the five senses.
How about this one? Kids who spend more than two hours a day on screens scored lower on thinking and language tests. Again, 11,000 kids for the next ten years get to score lower on tests! How wonderful for them!
Additionally, they will be looking closely at the addiction component of screen time. Hmmm. The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) has already classified Internet Gaming Disorder and Internet Addiction.
They are gambling with children
The naivety is astounding. These are “features” that the tech companies are providing us with, so they can sleep at night, all the while fully admitting how they want to suck us in. It’s truly incredible. More incredible, the people that fall for it. Especially, some of our nations most accredited psychologists, scientists and educators who tout “productivity apps” and “features.”
Now that I know they are gambling with 11,000 children, the same age as my daughter, I will pray that the odds bode well for these children. During this next decade, I will continue to enjoy my own little experiment with my children. What you don’t have access to, can’t hurt you.