The smart phone: Proven very bad for kids
Link here. The article is a detailed look at the growing body of evidence that now strongly suggests that the use of smart phones by young children is very bad for the development of their brains, and leads to numerous mental and physical issues later in life.
The article describes numerous studies that have tracked a sudden rise in childhood behavioral problems, beginning in the early 2010s, when smart phones started to be ubiquitous. For example,
In 2008, psychotherapist Tom Kersting, who worked as a school counselor for 25 years, saw a rise in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnoses in children over age 8. ADHD tends to be detected in early childhood after a child starts school. However, he has witnessed increasing diagnoses in teenagers and adults. While it could be possible that some of these teens were missed by clinicians when they were young, Mr. Kersting suspects that some developed symptoms of ADHD due to screen use.
Around 2012, when 30 percent of teenagers had a smartphone, he started to see rebellious behavior and anxiety disorders becoming more common among children. Young adults and teenagers growing up now also tend to be more antisocial and have reduced emotional resilience, which may be related to insufficient in-person socializing due to spending most of their time behind screens. “It’s not just the amount of time spent in the cyber world,” Mr. Kersting told The Epoch Times, “but also what they missed out on: outside play and social learning.”
Other studies have found similar rises during this same time period in childhood depression, anxiety, autism, and an inability to control their emotions.
This work confirms an earlier report about what one Minnesota middle school discovered when it banned smart phones while at school. Not only did behavioral problems decline — both inside and outside the classroom — but learning went up across the board.
The article above notes however one serious problem that stands in the way of parents taking smart phones from their kids: The parents’ own addiction to smart phones.
The work of educator and clinical psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair has also shown that children are increasingly competing with screens for their parents’ attention. Some children have reported feeling neglected because their parents are constantly checking their phones.
Parents who are unaware or not in control of their own screen use may also struggle to set screen time limits for their kids. Some parents are now raising their children by using screens as babysitters. This can cause children to prioritize screens over family and vice versa with the parents, Dr. Rosenfeld said.
This phenomenon is reflected in Gen Alpha. A common issue with these children is a lack of discipline, leaving parents stressed, and only screens can pacify them during their tantrums. [emphasis mine]
The highlighted paragraph might help explain why human discourse on all levels, not just in the political world, has become more heated in the last half decade. The rise in the use of obscenities during this same time period that adults once considered very improper to use but now use continuously in almost every sentence, in private and in very public venues (often in front of children), also appears linked to the rise of smart phone use by children beginning a decade earlier.
Overall, the trends point in a very bad direction, unless the present adult generation can muster the courage and strength of character to keep smart phones from their kids until they are at least eighteen years old.
What makes me doubt this will happen comes from my own experience with something far less addictive and compelling, television. When I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, television was the main source of entertainment. It became addictive to me, so much so that I soon realized in college that if I did not remove the TV completely from my life, I would never be able to accomplish much of anything.
Thus, I decided when moved into my own apartment I would not bring a television with me. It worked, but it was incredibly difficult to do. There were many shows I had become very addicted to watching on a weekly basis, and these were now unavailable. I found myself visiting parents and friends just to see them.
Over time however the urge to watch diminished, mostly because the old programs I was addicted to were canceled and I was unfamiliar with the new shows and thus had no desire to see them. I had not seen the commercials pushing them.
In the decades that followed, however, I found that my life without television was extremely unusual, and was viewed by almost everyone I knew or met as absurd and impossible.
Imagine trying to do the same now with smart phones, which appear to be far more addictive and cause infinitely more harm. As the article notes,
[S]ocial media has been engineered to lack natural stopping cues inherent in many aspects of life. Whether it’s a newspaper article, book, or movie, there is always an ending. One is, therefore, left to choose another activity once the end of the article, chapter, or movie comes.
However, with social media, one can scroll on forever without an end to the content—known as the doom scroll. Internet surfing is no different. Put a word into the search engine, and endless results and related links surface, leading you down a rabbit hole.
Breaking this cycle will be incredibly difficult for adults. How will they then manage to do the same for their kids?
As I noted in December, however, there is no reason at all to give any child a smart phone.
The reason parents give kids phones is so they can have easy contact should an emergency arise. Such need does not exist in school because the school can contact them should any problems occur. In fact, such need doesn’t exist in almost all cases, and when it does exist a smart phone is overkill. All the kids really need is a simple flip cell phone.
Yet, by all measures it does not appear that parents are doing this. Instead, they are giving smart phones to their kids at younger and younger ages.
It now appears that the long term consequences of making childhood a smart phone experience will be very dreadful indeed. If anything, it might be signalling the cause of the dark age of stupidity that we now appear trapped within.
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