Thursday, 15 October 2015

Screentime is making your kids moody, crazy and lazy.

Children these days are inundated with diagnoses for “bad” behaviour: if they haven’t got major depression they have bipolar disorder, or ADHD; if they don’t endure infrequent counselling then they’re prescribed therapy or medication. Or all three.

Too many diagnoses are bogus, that’s true, But far too many are not, and too few parents and clinicians have any clue about causes.

So what’s happening? Both parents and clinicians may be “barking up the wrong tree” says psychologist Victoria Dunckley, who suggests too many of both have refused to look at the bloody obvious.

That is, they’re trying to treat what looks like a textbook case of mental disorder, but failing to rule out and address the most common environmental cause of such symptoms—everyday use of electronics.

In short, as if you didn’t realise, screentime is making your children “moody, crazy and lazy.”

imageTime and again, [says Dunckley] I’ve realised that regardless of whether there exists any “true” underlying diagnoses, successfully treating a child with mood dysregulation today requires methodically eliminating all electronics use for several weeks—an “electronics fast”—to allow the nervous system to “reset.”
    But why is the electronic fast intervention so effective? Because it reverses much of the physiological dysfunction produced by daily screen time. 
    Children’s brains are much more sensitive to electronics use than most of us realise. In fact, contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t take much electronic stimulation to throw a sensitive and still-developing brain off track. Also, many parents mistakenly believe that interactive screen-time—Internet or social media use, texting, emailing, and gaming—isn’t harmful, especially compared to passive screen time like watching TV. In fact, interactive screen time is more likely to cause sleep, mood, and cognitive issues, because it’s more likely to cause hyperarousal and compulsive use.
 

Dunckley lists “six physiological mechanisms that explain electronics’ tendency to produce mood disturbance”: 

  1. Screen time disrupts sleep and desynchronizes the body clock
  2. Screen time desensitizes the brain’s reward system
  3. Screen time produces “light-at-night
  4. Screen time induces stress reactions
  5. Screen time overloads the sensory system(link is external), fractures attention(link is external), and depletes mental reserves
  6. Screen-time reduces physical activity levels and exposure to “green time

In today’s world, she says,

it may seem crazy to restrict electronics so drastically. But when kids are struggling, we’re not doing them any favors by leaving electronics in place and hoping they can wind down by using electronics in "moderation." It just doesn't work. In contrast, by allowing the nervous system to return to a more natural state with a strict fast, we can take the first step in helping a child become calmer, stronger, and happier.

Or to put it anther way, Put that bloody iPad down NOW and go outside!

[Hat tip Maria Montessori Education Foundation]

9 comments:

  1. What a surprise. An academic has pronounced that yet another thing that is enjoyable or makes life easy is terribly bad for you. Add this to having a car, having a drink, eating tasty things, and all the other things that academics want banned on our way back to the stone age.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's also very possible she's right. And she has provided all her working.

      Delete
    2. Apparently most medical studies are wrong: http://www.vox.com/2015/3/23/8264355/research-study-hype

      Delete
  2. so you think:

    far too many diagnoses of ADHD etc are not bogus ... despite that mental illness is a myth?

    that exposure to electronics is fucking up a child's mind rather than, say, years of problems caused by parental force and coercion?

    that the solution is more coercion and that a child's wishes should just be just disregarded?

    that children should be put on "strict fasts" to return their "nervous system" to a more "natural state"?

    Some bloody libertarian you are - when it comes to children you just throw all your principles out the window. you even fail to spot all the euphemisms. "methodically eliminating" - what do you really think that means? Dunckley is advocating evil.

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  3. There is a difference between state or societal coercion and self or parental discipline, the later of which I take to be the approach advocated by this article.

    When I was a child, my wishes, like most children, involved many things that clearly weren't going to be good for me when indulged to excess. In retrospect I'm rather glad my parents limited my compulsions until I developed the maturity to recognise them and do so myself. Sometimes this can involve restricting activities entirely until damaging habits are broken and moderation can slowly replace obsession. I would suggest that this is responsible parenting, not evil - libertarianism is not hedonism.

    Tom

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  4. it's common for adults to rationalise and to say it wasn't so bad that they were coerced as children.

    think about what you are saying. the initiation of force against children will help them come to know right from wrong.

    absolute bullshit. it does not help them come to know right from wrong.

    like consider if the parent is wrong about what they were coercing the child about. then child has been forced to do something that is wrong and that they know is wrong. how is that going to help child prefer right from wrong? how is that going to help error correction?

    force helps no-one learn anything. it gets in the way of learning and fucks children up. children are least able to protect themselves from initiation of force.

    initiating force is not responsible parenting. that's just a stupid early 21st century idea.

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  5. what a fucked up world we live in when breaking your child and initiating force against them is called "responsible parenting".

    responsible parenting is doing your utmost to help and explain things to your children, and not initiating force against them.

    such parenting does not lead to hedonism, but to morally responsible people.

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  6. I agree with you entirely that force isn't a tool for learning. Obviously discussing, explaining and reasoning are the primary positions and applied early will help children make the 'right' decisions without needing the last resort of enforcing limits, this is the ideal situation. We don't all live in ideal situations and there are many unhealthy influences on our children which we can't avoid.

    I am not advocating an authoritarian approach to parenting, I'm merely suggesting that, much as we wish it were otherwise, there are sometimes limits to reasoning with an undeveloped mind, at which point a mild and carefully explained 'initiation of force' in restricting harmful activities is preferable to doing nothing.

    By your mantra, in extremis, when despite advice and encouragement to the contrary, a ten year old decides their wishes involve drinking whiskey and their parents subsequently take away the bottle - this is harmful initiation of force by the parents and tantamount to 'breaking' the child? Would you concede that there do exist scenarios where parents need to enforce behaviour rules on their children? This appears to be our only real point of dissent.

    Tom

    ReplyDelete
  7. > I am not advocating an authoritarian approach to parenting,

    no u r and ur just lying to yourself.

    > I'm merely suggesting that,

    "merely" is an attempt to convince urself ur not a thug,

    > much as we wish it were otherwise, there are sometimes limits to reasoning with an undeveloped mind,

    omg look at how ur interpreting a child's refusal to comply.

    what typically happens is that parent makes a few attempts to get child to comply, then parent gets angry. there was no real attempt to reason or consideration that the parent may have been making an error. parent just wanted to enforce their preference regardless. but to u this is not thuggishness, it is the child's fault cuz they have an undeveloped mind and cannot be reasoned with.

    > at which point a mild and carefully explained 'initiation of force' in restricting harmful activities is preferable to doing nothing.

    the children that try to harm themselves are not the children brought up by parents who never coerced them and did everything in their power to help them.

    what's the shit about "mild" initiation of force? what happens if the child still refuses to comply?

    > By your mantra, in extremis, when despite advice and encouragement to the contrary, a ten year old decides their wishes involve drinking whiskey and their parents subsequently take away the bottle - this is harmful initiation of force by the parents and tantamount to 'breaking' the child?

    ur framing the question ambiguously. are u talking abt a child that is curious abt the taste of whiskey? it's not uncommon for children to try a sip of alcohol and with parental approval. most children dislike the taste. parent then considers they have taught child an alcohol lesson.

    or is it binge drinking ur talking abt? under what parenting scenario would a child become a binge drinker that harmed themselves? to get to that point the child would have been well and truly broken. it's a result of all kinds of force and neglect. it's not the result of the sort of parenting i'm talking abt.

    > Would you concede that there do exist scenarios where parents need to enforce behaviour rules on their children? This appears to be our only real point of dissent.

    no it is not our only real point of dissent, our differences are huge. u have never met children raised by parents that constantly help but never initiate force and u know hardly anything abt the philosophy.

    libertarians should never advocate initiating force and especially against children. that they do is fucking shameful and disgraceful. they think that non-initiation of force applies only to ppl above a certain age.

    ReplyDelete

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