Screen effects on children - information to discuss with the family

December 12, 2018

Research shows too much time (greater than 2 hours/day) on screens* makes
you d
more unhappy,
more likely to become depressed 
+/or suicidal,
and less able to communicate effectively.

I shared my experience regarding our latest "Screens Summit" with several moms now and every one has asked me to share my info with them so even though it’s humbling (admitting our screen habits!), I threw it up on our website.
I can only speak for our family, but having raised my children during this onslaught of screens era, I sadly admit it has sort of gotten away from us. Now that the data/research is in, I now have the back-up support info for everyone in my home to finally buy-in to screen reduction. Thanks be to Jesus.
After our eldest son reviewed all this information he said, “Ya, I probably shouldn’t have had screens that young.” The first smart screen we had was his school-given iPad – we signed him up for a single class up at school and that was when he was in 8th or 9th grade (he’s 21 now). We had to pay the school for it because he was so angry about us taking it away one night that when his father literally yanked it out of his hands and it went flying across the room.
Anyway, all families are different and all children and their temperaments and inclinations are different, but information is power and you may find this helpful. Blessings, A.

The data is in. Our family just had a "Screens Summit" with our nine children. We are greatly reducing the number of screens and our family rules are changing here, and we are going to strive to create some new habits.  It's not going to be easy on the computer-geek mom either!  Wish us luck.

Here is some of the data I gathered in support of our Summit discussion.
* note: for our family, we define screens to include A L L screens, TV included (granted we don't have cable and don't watch normal TV stations, we have Netflix, Amazon, and SlingTV).

When to Introduce Different Kinds of Media
Green Meadow Waldorf School

Videos to watch

Simon Simek:
(1) Q & A: How Do Cell Phones Impact Our Relationships (12 min)
Simon Simek Quotes / Highlights:
  • “Simply by enforcing the phone to be taken away, it’s a mechanism to get the behavior we want.” .. ."David Markay’s (sp?) work, 'You don’t try to change people’s thinking to get the behavior - you change the behavior to change their thinking.'”
  • “You should ban the phone in the school – everywhere. … you’ll start to see the kids talking and learning how to communicate learning how to build social relationships, learning how to talk to each other learning how to talk to their teachers, learning how to talk to their parents they will acculturate their skills that they’re lacking that are manifesting into things like depression, suicides, and school shootings later on in life.” 
  • "Those are the worst scenarios; the best-case scenario is that you just hate your life and live your life just going through life thinking life sucks and not really loving your friends.” 
  • “Colleges now are dealing with unprecedented numbers of people dropping out or taking leaves of absences because of depression.” 
(2) Here's Why Social Media Is Ruining Relationships (2018, 4 min)
(3) Screenagers Trailer (2015)
(4) *optional - Ted Talk (Feb. 2012) – this is old! But experts saw this coming.

Online Articles for review

(1)  Dec. 9, 2018 CBSNEWS 60 Minutes Groundbreaking study examines effects of screen time on kids
  • “The interviews and data from the NIH study have already revealed something else: kids who spend more than two hours a day on screens got lower scores on thinking and language tests.”

(2)  Dec. 17. 2018 (NPR) The Risk Of Teen Depression And Suicide Is Linked To Smartphone Use, Study Says
  • “So half an hour, an hour a day, that seemed to be the sweet spot for teen mental health in terms of electronic devices," Twenge says. "At two hours a day there was only a slightly elevated risk. And then three hours a day and beyond is where you saw the more pronounced increase in those who had at least one suicide risk factor."”

(3)  Nov 17, 2017 (USA Today) Screen Time increases Teen Depression and Thoughts of Suicide, research suggests
  • “Researchers from San Diego State and Florida State universities discovered nearly half of teens who got five or more hours of screen time each day had experienced thoughts of suicide or prolonged periods of hopelessness or sadness. That's nearly double that of teens who spent fewer than an hour in front of a screen.”

(4)  Jan 2, 2018 (Washington Post) Teens who spend less time in front of screens are happier — up to a point, new research shows
  • “The Emotion study graphed correlations between happiness and screen activities and non-screen activities such as sports, in-person interactions, religious services, print media and homework. For all the non-screen activities, the correlation was positive; for the screen activities, it was uniformly negative.”
  • “The report’s findings were not all dire: Teenagers who get a small amount of exposure to screen time, between one and five hours a week, are happier than those who get none at all. The least happy ones were those who used screens for 20 or more hours a week.”

(5)  Sept. 30, 2018 ( Less Screen Time Linked To Better Cognition In Kids: Study
  • “A new study on children across the U.S., published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, finds that when they spend more than two hours on screens every day, they tend to perform more poorly on tests of cognition.”
    NOTE: Cognition is "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". AKA LEARNING
(6) May 5, 2016 (Sport Act) Smartphone Addiction May Affect 50 percent Of Teens “Details”
  • "Nearly 50 percent of teenagers believe they are addicted to their smartphones, with many of their parents succumbing to the same problem, a new study had revealed. Conducted for Common Sense Media, the study involved interviews with 1,240 parents and their children aged 12 to 18, 59% of the teen respondents confessed to feeling addicted."
(7) Note this one is not data-driven, but fits the topic.  Dec 13, 2018 ( 8th grade boy sexually abuses nieces after viewing porn on iPhone he got for Birthday - It appears this was a Catholic family.

(8) CBS Snippet (2017) "A new study in the journal Child Development shows nighttime usage of a cell phone can increase anxiety and depression in teenagers and reduce self-esteem."

Food for Thought

Our own History / Electronics in home:
2010 1 TV, VCR/DVD Player, Netflix DVDs via mail, Xbox, mom’s laptop, one school laptop, CD Player with lots of CDs, slow internet, a couple of flip phones and texting where mom knew every single contact in your contacts and could check phones freely.

2018 3 TVs (incl. the one Jack just bought for his gaming), VCR/DVD Player (never used), Netflix on-demand, Amazon Prime on-demand, 2 Xboxes, Firestick, 6 smartphones (5 w/ hotspot), iPad, moms laptop, 3 school / harmony laptops, 1 school chromebook, Alexa, fast internet and streaming capabilities. SlingTV, Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat. Messenger, Email, Spotify,

Our family’s reading habits have changed since Smartphones / Tablets. Depressing.

Avg Classics Books Read for school and fun (estimate)
15-40 / yr
0-8 / yr

Updates: 1/29/2019 Enabled Comments
** Please share your family's screen rules or ideas **

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