Thursday, July 9, 2015

Screen Addiction Takes Toll on Children

Well, I imagine it could be worse, at least in my household.

My wife and I have raised pretty normal kids, despite the odds. It's definitely a battle fighting screen addiction. My oldest son's 19 now and I can't get him to read books. He says he's just "not interested." Oh well, at least he knows it's important, even if he's not into it. He's talking about wanting to move out with his best friend soon as well. Maybe when that happens some of the more "adult" life lessons we've been trying to impart will kick in, especially those about the importance of education and intellectual pursuits. I'm fighting the culture with him, that's for sure. As I've mentioned here many times my son's a real hipster with popular music and all. He goes to a lot of concerts, even seeing big stars like Taylor Swift multiple times. It's hard to top that with pleas for him to read some history books. I was a young hipster once, so what can you do?

As for my youngest boy, who'll be turning 14 next month? Well, he's an entirely different case. As I've mentioned before, he's got attention deficit issues, so too much screen time can be especially dangerous for his development. He plays outside a lot in the summer, which is good. But he's not reading enough when he's back inside. That said, he's not getting shortchanged for personal interaction, as he's surrounded by family all the time, and we have regular sit-down family dinners and so forth. Plus, he's still kind of a cuddly bear of a kid, and he likes to hang out with his dad a lot. We spend a lot of quality tine together. Indeed, that's one of the main reasons I don't like teaching in the summer.

I think he's going to be alright.

In any case, that's my family's travails. I consider it a continuing project.

But see the New York Times, "Screen Addiction Is Taking a Toll on Children":
Before age 2, children should not be exposed to any electronic media, the pediatrics academy maintains, because “a child’s brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens.” Older children and teenagers should spend no more than one or two hours a day with entertainment media, preferably with high-quality content, and spend more free time playing outdoors, reading, doing hobbies and “using their imaginations in free play,” the academy recommends.

Heavy use of electronic media can have significant negative effects on children’s behavior, health and school performance. Those who watch a lot of simulated violence, common in many popular video games, can become immune to it, more inclined to act violently themselves and less likely to behave empathetically, said Dimitri A. Christakis of the Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

In preparing an honors thesis at the University of Rhode Island, Kristina E. Hatch asked children about their favorite video games. A fourth-grader cited “Call of Duty: Black Ops,” because “there’s zombies in it, and you get to kill them with guns and there’s violence … I like blood and violence.”

Teenagers who spend a lot of time playing violent video games or watching violent shows on television have been found to be more aggressive and more likely to fight with their peers and argue with their teachers, according to a study in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

Schoolwork can suffer when media time infringes on reading and studying. And the sedentary nature of most electronic involvement — along with televised ads for high-calorie fare — can foster the unhealthy weights already epidemic among the nation’s youth.
RTWT at that top link.