In his article about screen time, Etchells asserts that existing research has not produced sufficient evidence to inform policies which would set screen time guidelines for children. He provides examples of research studies that have not been able to conclusively illustrate the adverse effects of screen time, and calls for more robust research to be done before policies are written.
This may initially seem like a reasonable, and logical perspective; however, readers need to be cautious of what meaning they create from Etchells’ article. The use of implicitly connotative language leaves the reader with the impression that screen time is not as harmful as some groups might think it is, and therefore doesn’t urgently warrant the development of usage guidelines. Though the studies linked to in his article may not be have been able to consistently, or uniformly describe adverse effects associated with screen time, they were able to identify them. This study, for example, revealed that the use of mobile devices were associated with sleep disruption, the worsening of existing mental health problems, and that they could be used as a new tool for bullying. Despite this, Etchells embedded the hyperlink to this article in a phrase (included below in bold)) that categorizes the article as one which does not demonstrate the potential harm of screen time.
“…screen are inherently harmful…This is simply not supported by solid research and evidence”
Though there may have been limitations in the findings, the harms were still identified. Selectively disregarding some findings in this study in order to emphasize his position, could be construed as oversimplification, which Etchells himself described in the article as being a potentially dangerous practice.
If there are potential harms or adverse effects of screen time, it might be more prudent to develop guidelines sooner, rather than later. Establishing conclusive empirical evidence and understanding long-term impacts of will require time. As a mother of two preteen children, I would rather heed preliminary findings and become aware that I was unnecessarily cautious in following screen times guidelines after my children are grown, than enabling potentially detrimental or irreversible impacts to occur, while awaiting conclusive evidence to emerge.