Kids’ Brains: Their Emotional Development & Mental Health

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“Young people who spend seven hours or more a day on screens are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety than those who use screens for an hour a day

The newly released fact finding book, LookUp: A Parenting Guide to Screen Use, by Judy Stoffel, (Wise Ink Creative Publishing, 2019, $14.95), has recently hit the headlines, due to the results of worrying research about this ubiquitous practice that starts off at an unnecessarily young age. In fact, in the US right now, a terrible consensus has started to emerge in Silicon Valley, where: “screen time for kids under 2 more than doubles” [2].

The US federal government, via NIH (the National Institute of Health), has just launched landmark research in order to ascertain the outcome of mobile phone screen time on children’s brains. – This includes what consequences it has on their mental health and emotional development. Fortunately, this very important project, which is costing $300 million, is being done on a large scale, and will involve 11,000 child participants.

Stoffel, who is the mother of five children, notes that: “As parents, we can’t wait ten years for this study to be completed. Other studies have already revealed that screen use can be addicting for children, much like drug use and gambling is for adults. We also know it can disrupt sleep patterns, cause memory problems, IQ declines, anxiety and depression” [2]. Looking at the research already there, Stoffel remarks that there is already sufficient evidence that should lead us to drastically change our relationships with our mobiles [2], yet as this high tech way of living has come so fast, parents are not fully aware of the clear and present dangers that mobile phone use invokes on their children. Stoffel declares that: “the large tech companies are monetizing our kids’ attention, and their largest income stream comes from advertisers. It’s time to take this control back and start changing things in our own home”.

Book Content

Ultimately, Stoffel’s publication is designed to show readers that: while mobile phones are indispensable, they do not have to be addictive. It incorporates: guidance on how to create an American Academy of Pediatrics media plan; the risks and benefits of high tech living; and a guide to enjoying the benefits that tech offers – while at the same time, being able to reducing screen time. The author also makes the point that: parents must have a strong focus as to where their son’s and daughter’s attention is going, and how much time they are actually spending immersed in the digital sphere. – She is not advocating ditching mobile devices. – Her simple aim is to get readers to lead by example, so that their children do not just grab their mobiles when they need entertainment, or when the are bored. – After all, there are so many other great things to do. – And in the case of children, reading old fashioned books that do not give them eye strain, or all the mental health disorders that research has shown, they can get, would be a giant step in the right direction.

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