The school year is approaching. Even teenagers admit that their addiction to electronic devices has gone too far. But research on the health effects of technology is still controversial.
The negative effects of gadgets on young children and teens have already been documented in such detail that avoiding technology has become almost a primary goal of parenting. But a new study questions some of the assumptions about the risks of time spent in front of screens of electronic devices, at least as far as mental health is concerned. Another study suggests that trying to prohibit a child from using gadgets may actually have unpleasant consequences.
There is no doubt that teenagers spend a lot of time on social media and video games. The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that a child devotes an average of seven hours a day to electronic devices. Even kids themselves admit that the situation is out of control: 54% of teens between the ages of 13 and 17 agree that they spend too much time on their phones, and 52% have tried to fix it.
Gadget addiction has spread throughout society. A study last year found that even high school students living in villages spend more time on their phones than they do outdoors.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not handing gadgets to a child under 18 months old, limiting the time spent watching cartoons for children between the ages of 18 and 24 months, and allowing children from two to five years old to use electronics for one hour a day. But for working parents, that means literally no smartphones, tablets or TVs in the house.
Scientists link excessive time in front of a screen to mental and physical health risks. Here’s a sampling:
And while most of this research probably has ground to cover, it’s important to remember that there’s no cause-and-effect relationship here: kids prone to depression or anxiety may be more likely to become addicted to a video game. In addition, many researchers rely on children’s own stories.
The study of these scientists involved 5363 teens from the United States, the United Kingdom and Ireland, and their work showed that gadgets had little effect on the mental health and well-being of children.
In general, the researchers took into account not only the data provided by the participants themselves, but also their parents.
Did we then find the answer to the question? Of course we haven’t. But it is a cause for reflection for any parent who constantly worries about banning their children from using electronics.
One new study also questions the decision to reward or punish a child with an opportunity to play with his or her phone. It involved parents of 62 children between the ages of 18 months and five years. They were asked how they control the time their child spends on gadgets. On average, their children spend about 1.5 hours behind their screens on weekdays and about two hours on weekends. Children whose parents allowed them to sit on the computer for good behavior spent 20 minutes more time online on weekends than others.
It’s also worth noting that despite the risks, gadgets will stay with us for a long time. Understanding how to integrate them into young people’s lives is just as important as trying to limit their use.
We can’t turn back time. The question is, how do we find a way to integrate nature and technology? Can we develop programs that both accommodate children’s love of electronics and keep them mindful of the outdoors? Or maybe we just need to worry less. Kids are not as lost as we think, and in many cases they are just following our lead.
Author’s bio: Jean Hartley is a professional writer for help me write my paper service. She also manages to lead freelance projects remotely. Jean has lots of great tips on how to write an article and is going to blog about it on YouTube.
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