The editorial by Etchells and colleagues at the Guardian has was written in a response to a group of prominent individuals from the community who voiced their concerns over the negative affects screen time could have on the health and well being of children. The authors of this article put forth a cautionary reminder that it is important to not just feed into the hype of claims, and that it is imperative to conduct quality research with factual evidence to support various claims before using it as a basis for governmental level policy changes.
The viewpoints laid out in this article have been a stark contrast as to the ones that I have encountered over the years. I’ve read countless articles about how too much screen time can have negative affects on individuals, especially before one goes to sleep, and I’ve also encountered information about the benefits of conducting periodical digital detox sessions. Through discussions with my friends who are parents, they have expressed concerns over the amount of screen time their children are exposed to because they believe that it could deeply hinder their physical and mental development. Upon reflection, I too am one of those individuals that look at screen time in a negative way, but I generally carry on using my devices since it is so heavily intertwined with my day to day life and I haven’t mustered the discipline to make any sort of drastic changes.
The tonality of the editorial backed by a list of accomplished professionals within the academic and health care field has sparked my interest in investigating arguments from the other side. I held on to the negative associations with screen time because I hadn’t searched for, or encountered any additional information that would lend itself to supporting alternative viewpoints. What would have made this open letter even more convincing was if the authors included studies and data that would help facilitate a new type of discussion where screen time is not just inherently bad. Nonetheless, I think it would be quite an interesting exercise for me to explore new ideas outside the negative hype around screen time. It’s time to start Googling!