In today’s digital age, parents have new issues that alarm them which were of no concern to my parents when I was growing up. I’ve discussed screen time with my teenage students in the past. Most of their households have smartphones, a desktop computer, a tablet or two, and a video game console, but their parents monitor and limit their time in usage immensely. These parents have concerns about their children’s eyesight and sleep being affected. Some of them are also worried about the radiation being emitted by the devices and what harm may be incurred over time. But are these parents’ worries warranted? Etchells et al. (2017) say no. They argue that there is no substantial proof that screen time is harmful to children’s health and that until proper research has been conducted, one cannot claim so.
Etchells et al. (2017) seem to be insinuating that because they are scientists, that they know better than parents, writers and psychologists, however this doesn’t stop others from making their own claims. Author Asprey (2018) asserts that overexposure to the blue light emitted by our electronic devices not only affects our sleep and eyesight; it can also lead to severe health issues such as cancer and diabetes. Child psychiatrist Kowalski (2016) insists that too much screen time is affecting children’s mental health. She declares that when children are exposed to screens too much that it can lead to such issues as behavioural problems, mental disorders, learning difficulties, and mood swings. A doctor, Group (2014) who has researched the origins of diseases attests that the radiation emitted from mobile devices is especially harmful to kids’ health. He goes on to say that cell phones and tablets use radio frequency (RF) electromagnetic energy can lead to children feeling dizzy, tired, dazed or even worse.
Of course, I am no expert and have not conducted research of my own, however until substantial research has been carried out, I can understand both sides. On one hand, Etchells et al (2017) have a valid point; we cannot make assumptions without the research to back it up. However, on the other hand, I have been personally affected health-wise from time to time when I use my mobile devices excessively; if I read online for several hours, I sometimes get a headache, or if I type on my laptop or hold my smartphone for too long, wrist pain occurs. Until further research is performed, it may to safe to say that we should each listen to our own bodies (or parents in turn monitor their children) and use and/or limit our screen time accordingly.
Asprey, D. (2018). Why Blue Light is Messing with Your Sleep – And What to Do About It. Retrieved from https://www.bulletproof.com/sleep/tech/blue-light-glasses-sleep/
Etchells, P., et al. (2017). Screen Time Guidelines should be built on evidence, not hype. The Guardian.
Group, E. (2014). How to Protect Yourself from Dangerous Cell Phone Radiation. Retrieved from https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/how-to-protect-yourself-from-dangerous-cell-phone-radiation/
Kowalski, J. (2016). What is too much screen time doing to our kids’ mental health? Retrieved from https://www.eehealth.org/blog/2016/02/too-much-screen-time-and-kids-mental-health