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Screen Addiction
Research and Statistics

We’ve done our best to compile a robust amount of information, articles, and research studies on a variety of topics.

Use the navigations tabs to explore!

Screen Addiction
Research and Statistics

We’ve done our best to compile a robust amount of information, articles, and research studies on a variety of topics.

Use the navigations tabs to explore!

Kids' Brains & Screens Course—Outline & References

  1. How the Brain Grows
  2. Brain Facts (Flip Cards) references here and here 
  3. 25 years for the brain to fully develop
  4. Activities shape your child’s brain.
  5. Neuronal pruning builds efficiency.
  6. Executive function skills must be learned and practiced in childhood.
  7. QUOTE: “What you do and learn in life physically changes what your brain looks like. You can wire and rewire yourself with the simple choice of what musical instrument—or professional sport—you play.” John Medina, PhD, author Brain Rules,(58).
  8. Four Major Areas of Development info here.
  9. How to Build Strong Executive Function Skills
  10. Life Skills
  11. Emotional Intelligence Skills (EQ)
  12. Quote “Chronic, sedentary and detached, today’s children are failing to engage in essential activities that build development foundations for growth and success.” Cris Rowen, author, The Virtual Child.
  13. What is needed for healthy brain development: Children’s activities create the neuronal structure for their future brain. This is why we say that brains are activity dependent. At birth the brain has a lifetime supply of brain cells (neurons); it is the connections (synapses) that account for brain growth. The more the baby is cognitively stimulated (healthy stimulation) the more connections will be made. This is why we say that the child’s brain is shaped by the activities it does. See Dimitri Christakis – Media and Children-TED Talk
    1. Movement: Movement is a proven treatment for ADHD. One study showed that when children jogged for 30 minutes 3 times a week their cognitive performance increased after only 12 weeks – and it plummeted when exercise stopped. REF

      Cerebellum: It is only 10% of brain volume but holds over 50% of the brain’s neurons. REF. Pediatric Occupational Therapist, Cris Rowan teaches, “Humans have two sensorimotor systems that are stimulated by movement: the vestibular system located in the brain (often referenced as our inner ear) and the proprioceptive system located in our muscles. These two systems integrate with each other and with the visual system to provide core stability, motor coordination, and balance. Children who don’t move enough, don’t adequately develop these essential sensorimotor systems resulting in poor core stability, poor coordination, and poor balance.” Email communication.

      Crawling: REF Babies should crawl over 1,000 feet a day.
    2. Limbic Resonance: From Hilarie Cash, in her article in Psychology Today, “Let me begin by explaining limbic resonance. It refers to the energetic exchange that happens between two people who are interacting in a caring and safe relationship. Their interaction stimulates the release of certain neurochemicals in the limbic region of the brain. These chemicals are necessary for full emotional and physical well-being. Without enough limbic resonance in our lives, over time, we function and feel less and less well. This is why isolation is bad for us. We are social animals; we need one another.”
    3. Language Development. Dr. Dana Suskind, author of Thirty Million Words, Building a Child’s Brian. says that by kindergarten, a gap of 32 million words separates children in linguistically impoverished homes from their more stimulated peers.
      • “It’s almost magical how parental conversation appears to influence the biological growth of the brain.” John Gabrieli
      • With background TV, words spoken are reduced from 900 words an hour to 200. Dimitri Christakis, pediatric researcher at Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle, reports that children learn language skills largely from verbal interactions with their parents. In his recent 2009 study where he used digital recorders on both parents and children in their homes, Dr. Christakis found that adults typically utter approximately 941 words per hour, yet these adult words are almost completely eliminated when television is audible to the child. Dr. Christakis found that each hour of audible television was associated with significant reductions in child vocalizations, vocalization duration, and conversational turns. On average, each additional hour of television exposure was also associated with a decrease of 770 words the child heard from an adult during the recording session. Since 30 percent of American households now report having the television always on, even when no one is watching, researchers report these findings have grave implications for language acquisition and therefore perhaps even early brain development (Christakis 2009).
    4. Play. Stuart Brown, author of the book Play. How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul. “Play is a profound biological process. It shapes the brain and makes animals smarter and more adaptable. In higher animals, it fosters empathy and makes complex social groups possible. For us, play lies at the core of creativity and innovation. Humans are built to play and built through play. It is the truest expression of our individuality. We feel most alive and our best memories are moments of play.” (175).
    5. Nature. Nature is a natural stress reducer and according to Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, “New studies suggest that exposure to nature may reduce the symptoms of ADHD, and that it can improve all children’s cognitive abilities and resistance to negative stresses and depression.” (35).
    6. Playing Music. Scientists have found that playing music stimulates more parts of the brain than any other human activity. A child’s brain will develop faster with music training, and the good news is that your child doesn’t need to be gifted at music to get the brain benefits—they just need to play. 
      • One research study found that people with musical training show better executive functioning in the brain as compared to non-musicians. From study “Brain imaging shows enhanced executive brain function in people with musical training.” 
      • See video at end of the lesson: TED-Ed, written by Anita Collins and animated by Sharon Colman Graham, explains why playing music benefits the brain more than any other activity, how it impacts executive function and memory, and what it reveals about the role of the same neural structure implicated in explaining Leonardo da Vinci’s genius. Quote from this short film: Playing music is the brain’s equivalent of a full-body workout… Playing an instrument engages practically every area of the brain at once — especially the visual, auditory, and motor cortices. And, as in any other workout, disciplined, structured practice in playing music strengthens those brain functions, allowing us to apply that strength to other activities… Playing music has been found to increase the volume and activity in the brain’s corpus callosum — the bridge between the two hemispheres — allowing messages to get across the brain faster and through more diverse routes. This may allow musicians to solve problems more effectively and creatively, in both academic and social settings.
    7. Handwriting. The brain needs the hands to reach its full developmental potential. Handwriting is important for the early recruitment of brain regions needed for letter processing and reading. According to a study conducted by the University of Washington, learning to print, write in cursive, and type on a keyboard all contribute to brain development in students. But instruction in cursive writing in particular seems to produce the greatest neurological effects. Brain scans show that more of the areas of the brain associated with memory formation are activated when writing than when typing (Darling 2014).
    8. Reading. Reading for pleasure at 15 is a top predictor for academic & life success. (Renaissance) It is found to be more important for children’s cognitive development than their parents’ level of education. Patricia Greenfield, professor of psychology at UCLA, analyzed more than 50 studies on learning and points out that “reading for pleasure among young people has decreased in recent decades, which is problematic because studies show that reading develops imagination, induction, reflection and critical thinking, as well as vocabulary…in a way that visual media such as video games and television do not.” Quote here
    9. Empathy. When you examine the data, there are distinct parallels between the introduction of social media and the decline in empathy or compassion. Liraz Margalit,  author of Psychology today Post “What Screen Time Can Really Do to Kids’ Brains says, “So if your young child is spending all of his time in front of an iPad instead of chatting and playing with teachers and other children, his empathic abilities — the near-instinctive way you and I can read situations and get a feel for other people — will be dulled, possibly for good.”
    10. Physical Touch. From Wendy Rose Gould, Navigating Touch Deprivation in the Social Distancing Era, Touch is the first language babies learn. The lack of a loving, physical touch deprives the body of the feel-good hormone oxytocin. The long-term effects pose a real threat to a child’s emotional well-being. 
    11. Downtime. Research has found that taking breaks can improve one’s mood. When the mind isn’t given a chance to pause and refresh, it doesn’t work as efficiently. And watching TV, scrolling through social media or playing games on your phone also don’t count as downtime.
    12. Creativity & Imagination. Childhood imagination is like a muscle—it must be used and worked. Creativity builds problem-solving skills for use later in life and has such a short season to develop in the foundational early years. According to Cris Rowan, in “The Impact of Technology on the Developing Child,” There are four requirements for healthy Childhood Development: Movement, Touch, Human Contact, and Exposure to Nature.
      • Communication skills are more than just saying words. They involve learning and practicing how to read nonverbal cues such as body language, tone, inflection, and eye contact.
      • Sleep is especially vital for growing and developing brains. This is especially important for the school-aged child to get enough sleep to properly function in schools. The recommended amount is 9-12 hours for a 5-12 year old. According to the Sleep Foundation, sleep deprivation impairs attention and working memory, but it also affects other functions, such as long-term memory and decision-making. Lack of sleep can affect mood causing irritability, exaggerated emotional reactions. 
    13. Belonging. The need for purpose, competency and belonging are critical human needs. Being connected to a community is also good for brain health. It is the foundation for important social, mental, and cognitive skills. It is necessary for life satisfaction as well as helping manage hard times. Research has shown that the loss of belonging, or loneliness, is associated with a shorter life expectancy, stress, illness, decreased well-being, and depression. “According to this meta-analysis co-authored by Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University, lack of social connection heightens health risks as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or having alcohol use disorder. She’s also found that loneliness and social isolation are twice as harmful to physical and mental health as obesity.” quote here.
    14. Attachment. The need for family attachment is the most essential need for all humans. Excellent info here and also see book by Gordon Newfield, Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers.
  14. Building a Healthy Identity: The Work of Childhood. Summary Here is a summary of the stages taken from Chapter 4 of Breaking The Trance, by George Lynn, Cynthia Johnson.
  1. Teen Brain video. In this video, Dr. Ken C. Winters (Director of the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research at the University of Minnesota) educates viewers on the vulnerability of the adolescent and teen developing brain as well as the detrimental effects of drugs and alcohol. More info here.
  2. Your Apprentice Adult. The teen years mark a season of explosive growth both physically and neurologically. There is an explosion of up to 100 billion new nerve connections in the adolescent brain. This is why the teen years represent the season with the highest potential for learning new things like language, sports, music, and art.
    • From Adolescent Brain Development: Current Research and the Impact on Secondary School Counseling Programs Gail K. Roaten and David J. Roaten found here: “While 95 percent of brain development takes place before age 5 or 6, a second wave of development takes place during adolescence, typically from age 11 or 12 through approximately 24 (Spinks, 2000; Jensen, 2010; Yurgelun-Todd, Killgore, & Young, 2002). The human brain contains approximately 100 billion neurons. Neurons, the only cells in the body that do not touch, must rely on chemicals called neurotransmitters to relay messages from cell to cell. The spaces between cells, or synapses, are formed early on. Some of these are formed genetically, but vast numbers are formed due to the child’s engagement in experiential activities. Children are born with many more synapses than needed; those that are unused will die off in a process known as synaptic pruning.”
  3. QUOTE: “Those cells and connections that are used will survive and flourish. Those cells and connections that are not used will wither and die. So if a teen is doing music or sports or academics, those are the cells and connections that will be hard-wired. If they’re lying on the couch or playing video games or watching MTV, those are the cells and connections that are going to survive.” Dr. Jay Giedd, Adolescent-Brain Expert, quote here. and here
  4. Teen Brain Under Construction The neurons that are kept are being myelinated. 
  5. The Judgment center is not Complete. The frontal cortex is not fully connected yet but the emotion center (limbic area) is. This means that teens may react and be more emotional as they have weaker stop signals. REF 
  6. New Thinking Skills The teen brain is becoming interconnected and gaining processing power giving this stage rich potential for learning new things.
  7. Reward Center on Overdrive. During the teen years there is a greater sensitivity to dopamine (more dopamine receptors) in the reward center. This causes novelty-seeking behaviors—like binging on YouTube and searching edgy content online—to skyrocket. Risk-taking is at an all time high. Go here. Data shows that 90% of all adult addictions start in the teen years. Go here.
  8. Novelty Seeking Behavior. While novelty-seeking is a healthy trait in moderation, those with high novelty-seeking tendencies are at risk of drug and alcohol addiction, as well as mental health disorders like depression and anxiety. Go here for more on novelty seeking. 
  9. More Vulnerable to Stress. Toxic stress has the potential to change your child’s brain chemistry, brain anatomy and even gene expression. Toxic stress weakens the architecture of the developing brain, which can lead to lifelong problems in learning, behavior, and physical and mental health. See more here
  10. Impressionable Brains Friends drive friends to take risks. See more here
  11. Peers are Important, Parents are More Important. Research shows that when teens are peer-oriented, they are at a greater risk for lower school performance, higher risk taking, and abusing drugs and alcohol. See Gordon Neufeld video here
  12. Quote: “…the higher your best friend’s IQ at the age of eleven or twelve, the higher your IQ would be at age fifteen, even after controlling for natural levels of intelligence. We soak up the qualities and practices of those around us. New habits seems achievable when you see others doing them every day.”- James Clear, author, Atomic Habits (117).
  13. Intelligence is NOT Maturity. Early adolescence often brings with it new concerns about body image and appearance. Both girls and boys who never before gave much thought to their looks may suddenly spend hours primping, worrying and complaining—about being too short, too tall, too fat, too skinny. See ScreenStrong blog here
  14. How can I speed up their maturity? 
  15. How to Encourage Healthy Brain Development in Teens. Reduce Stress, Enrich Environment. Increase Range of Activities
  16. Peer Orientation, Parents Orientation
  17. Research shows that when teens are peer-oriented, they are at a greater risk for lower school performance, higher risk taking, and abusing drugs and alcohol. Info on graphics: Parent-Oriented Teens and Peer-Oriented found in book by Richard Freed, PhD, The Wired Child (150). More research here.
  18. Quote: “In my experience, every good parent intuitively knows what is good and not good for [their children]. The problem is, we ignore our intuitions and jump on the train loaded with mothers and fathers pushing their [children] to outshine the others. Get off of that train.” Meg Meeker, MD, Boys Should Be Boys: 7 Secrets to Raising Healthy Sons
  19. Myth: Teens need online privacy from parents. Online Privacy is not Healthy for Teens. See more info here.
  20. Healthy Parenting Builds Healthy Teens. Healthy Parenting Styles. Researchers have identified basic parenting styles. In addition to the uninvolved parent, there are three distinct styles. Permissive parents are too soft; they let kids call the shots and they fail to enforce their own rules. Authoritarian parents are too hard; they are punitive and unloving. The Ideal parent, however, sets rules and sticks by them but always communicates love and respect along the way. Years of research supports that this parenting style is the most effective when it comes to raising well-balanced and healthy kids. See Dr Leonard Sax book, Collapse of Parenting. ScreenStrong Podcast #22 with Dr. Leonard Sax and Podcast #26 with Dr. Leonard Sax.
  21. Keep ’em Busy- Be Proactive with Extracurricular Activities. Studies show that when teens engage in the same (adult led) activity for two years in a row they are more successful in many areas of life. They made more income, had better jobs, volunteered in the community, and were happier. See more here and in Lesson 8 of the ScreenStrong Solutions Course. The skill of being able to follow through is the best predictor of future success. 
  22. Sleep. Stat 58% Middle School Students get less than recommended amount of sleep and 72.7% reported insufficient sleep, with about 20% reporting sleeping fewer than 6 hours a night. Adequate sleep is necessary for brain development, as well as emotional and physical health. Sleep improves focus, motivation, memory, and learning. During sleep all the learning from the day is consolidated into the long-term memory center of the brain. Sleep is also when toxins are removed from the brain; cerebrospinal fluid washes in and out of the brain during sleep, helping clear out waste. Go here.
    • Suicide and sleep info here.
    • Sports and Sleep. Info here

 

 

  1. Not All Screens Are Created Equal
  2. The Orienting Response QUOTE: “TV repeatedly triggers our orienting response—the instinctive reaction to pay attention to any sudden, changing, or novel stimulus. This orienting response evolved in the species because it helps us identify potential threats and react to them. Media producers use features such as edits, cuts, zooms, pans, and sudden noises to continually trigger our orienting response. In short, they exploit basic psychological and biological mechanisms to get and keep our attention.” Douglas Gentile, Ph.D., author, Media Violence and Children: A Complete Guide for Parents and Professionals (  ).
  3. The Stress Response: How screen use causes stress. 
    1. The hook. The persuasive design elements in games and social media Most of the techniques center around how often rewards are offered in the experience.
    2. Everything New is Fun. Dopamine.
    3. The Fear of Dying Works Every Time
    4. Entering Survival Mode
    5. The thinking Part of the Brain Shuts Down
    6. The revved Up Brain is Stressed
    7. Stress in Virtual Life equals stress in Real Life
    8. Chronic Stress Becomes a Way of Life REF
    9. Behavior Problems Increase
    10. The Game becomes his new family
  4. Dr. Victoria Dunckley on screen time and the effects on chronic stress REF
  5. The Behavior Response
  6. ABCD Study. REF  More info on the ABCD Study here. And here
  7. I’ll just use parental controls”
  8. “I’ll just set limits.” The brain doesn’t get a clean slate every morning to start over. REF
  9. QUOTE: In MRI images of the brains of children with internet addiction, you can see decreased activity. The brain shuts down and its executive functioning is not working. It looks like a brain addicted to drugs. A brain hooked on the internet, phones, or tablets looks like a brain hooked on heroin. There is a striking difference compared to healthy adolescents. The brain’s processing center is not the same as a normal child.” – Dr. David. R. Rosenberg, MD, from talk with Rosenberg here, A&E Voices Magnified here, Additional references here, here, here, here, and  here,   

    “The results aren’t in yet. Bonnie Nagel, one of the study’s investigators and a professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at Oregon Health & Science University, said she predicts they will find that when brains repeatedly process rapid, rewarding content, their ability to process less-rapid, less-rewarding things “may change or be harmed.” Quote from: WSJ article

  10. There is an explosion of up to 100 billion new nerve connections in the adolescent brain. See here.

  11. How Screen Overuse Derails a Perfectly Normal Brain
    1. Language development
    2. Sedentary lifestyle
    3. Limits Free Play 
    4. Disrupts Development of empathy
    5. Prevents Movement
    6. Impedes Downtime or time in Nature
    7. Hinders Creativity
    8. Causes Eye Strain, Dry Eye and Myopia
    9. Hinders Sleep
    10. Causes stress in the Home
    11. Detachment
    12. Social Isolation
  12.  QUOTE: “It is notable that screen time reduced both children’s sleep even at this early age [toddlers] and reduced parents’ reading to children, which we know is a strong predictor of positive child outcomes, such as higher IQ.” Dr. Douglas Gentile, REF

    Also: “American children spend more time in front of electronic screens than any other activity except sleeping. The brain becomes what the brain does.” Dr. Douglas Gentile, award-winning educator, research scientist, ScreenStrong Podcast #23 with Dr. Doug Gentile

    “Excessive screen time can impinge on children’s ability to develop optimally; it is recommended that pediatricians and health care practitioners guide parents on appropriate amounts of screen exposure and discuss potential consequences of excessive screen use. REF ”The researchers found that greater screen time at 24 months was associated with poorer performance on developmental screening tests at 36 months, and greater screen time at 36 months was associated with lower scores on developmental screening tests at 60 months.” REF

  13. Interrupted Executive Function Development. Screen use hinders your brain’s executive functions which are the “higher level cognitive processes of planning, decision making, problem solving, action sequencing, task assignment and organization, effortful and persistent goal pursuit, inhibition of competing impulses, flexibility in goal selection, and goal-conflict resolution. These often involve the use of language, judgment, abstraction and concept formation, and logic and reasoning” (APA Dictionary of Psychology). 
  14. Effects of Screen Overuse on Young Brains
    1. No imagination
    2. Isolation
    3. Missed milestones
    4. Start bad Habits
    5. Disengaged
    6. Can’t Self Soothe
  15. Effects of Screen Overuse on Teen Brains
    1. Chronic Stress  
    2. Detachment
    3. Social Anxiety
    4. Rejection Pain
    5. Lack of Sleep 
    6. Identity Confusion
  16. Video:  The Thorne Family. Contact ScreenStrong for more information. 
  17. QUOTE: “Video games can make our sons angry and lazy, and social media can make our daughters anxious and depressed. The teen years are not the best years to waste time on video games and smartphones.” – Melanie Hempe, ScreenStrong Founder, Go to ScreenStrong for more info. 
  18. Parental Blind Spots
    1. Anchoring Bias: The first thing you hear sticks.
    2. Confirmation Bias: Seeking out and listening only to others who believe the same way you do.
    3. The Conversation Bias: Conversations are the golden ticket to screen success.
    4. The ‘Not My Kid’ Bias or ‘My Kid Would Never…’
    5. Status Quo Bias: Change is much harder than stagnation.
    6. Availability Bias: Out-of-context examples.
  19. QUOTE: “A child who experiences chronic meltdowns, depression, and anxiety expressed with manic force over game play is actually damaging his brain.”- George Lynn & Cynthia Johnson, Breaking the Trance (32).
  20. Is My Child Addicted to Screens? Warning signs of problematic screen use. Reference ScreenStrong
  21. VIDEO: The Thorne family shares about the negative effects of screen time in their home and how they overcame it. 
  22. g
  1. VIDEO: Simon Sinek (Link) 
  2. What’s on a Smartphone? 
  3. What Are They Doing on Social Media  (See #Being Thirteen video)
    • Managing multiple accounts
    • Taking selfies
    • Wasting time
    • Talking with a predator
    • Trying to communicate
    • Working around parental controls
    • Building a personal brain
    • Lurking
    • Posting
    • Sexting
    • Feeling lonely and left out
    • Comparing
  4. Social Media and Teens: What’s the Big Deal?
    • Waste of time hours of time on screen each day
    • Loss of social skills and friends
    • Weak identity formation
    • Impressionable stage of development
    • Pain from rejection and fear of missing out
    • Unnecessary comparison and envy
    • Too much peer pressure
    • Group texting 
    • Less time for meaningful activities
    • More exposure to porn and sexual content
    • Feeling of entitlement
    • They never come home
  5. QUOTE: “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  —Theodore Roosevelt
  6. “It is not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to addictive screen usage.” Jean M. Twenge PhD IGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy–and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood–and What That Means for the Rest of Us by Jean M. Twenge PhD | Sep 4, 2018 The Atlantic. More found here NPRScience Daily, Twenge Study here, and here
  7. Social media leads to depression: According to research, social media makes teens anxious, stressed, and depressed. Many girls go to counseling for social media anxiety. The damage is linear, meaning that the more your teen is on social media the more anxious and depressed they will become. See #6 above.
    • According to research, social media makes teens anxious, stressed, and depressed. Many girls go to counseling for social media anxiety. The damage is linear, meaning that the more your teen is on social media the more anxious and depressed they will become.
    • 71% of teens who spend five or more hours per day on their devices are more likely to have one risk factor for suicide. Twenge study.
    • One in five children have been diagnosed with mental health problems. National Alliance on Mental Illness here
    • Three common stressors
      • Building a brand
      • FOMO
      • Unpredictable changes in Social Currency
  8. QUOTE: “We are creating an entire generation of mini little addicts who are getting hard wired to believe that their sense of self worth comes from a device and not another human being.” – Simon Sinek (Link
  9. Common Misconceptions. This information is taken from the ScreenStrong workshop material.
    1. Myth #1: Middle School is a Good Age to Get a Smartphone.
      • Why 8th grade is the worse age for a smartphone
      • Notes on why 13 is used as age for social media apps: How did 13 become the Internet age of adulthood?  Due to COPPA, 13 is the minimum age requirement for companies to legally collect data from minors. This age has nothing to do with content appropriateness or age of maturity. Here is the actual ruling. Rule Summary: COPPA imposes certain requirements on operators of websites or online services directed to children under 13 years of age, and on operators of other websites or online services that have actual knowledge that they are collecting personal information online from a child under 13 years of age. The age limit for most apps was not set because researchers believe children are mature enough to handle social media at age 13. This is not similar to movie ratings like most parents are led to believe.
    2. Myth #2: My teen is more mature than her peers. The middle school girl’s phone speech. 
      • QUOTE: “We were so impressed with our daughter’s presentation to us! We fell for it and thought she was so mature. But giving our daughter a smartphone was the worst parenting decision we ever made.” Dad of a 14-year-old teen girl from a ScreenStrong Workshop.
    3. Myth #3: Conversations are how teens stay safe online.
      • Parent-teen conversations about avoiding toxic online content are a must but they don’t work the way parents think. Studies show that talking about addiction with teens can reduce drug use and alcohol by 50 percent but only if the parents are NOT allowing access to the addictive substance or activity while having those ongoing conversations. Reference here
      • Conversations can feel like lectures because they can be too abstract. Kids can’t “hear” higher level reasoning when they are anxious or stressed. Young brains—tweens and teens—are not at the point of development where they can easily understand an adult’s reasoning.
      • Conversations only work in tandem with other protective factors such as inaccessibility to problematic substances/activities, strong family values, clear expectations, close family relationships, early intervention, and plenty of healthy activities. Conversations are very important and a wonderful way to build a bond with your teen, but they do not ensure changing teen behavior, making them more mature, nor will they keep your teen safe online.
      • Facts About Teen Brain Development, Newport Academy
    4. Myth #4: If I get the right controls on the smartphone, my child will be safe.
    5. Myth #5: The right smartphone contract will help my teen use social media well.
      • Reasons why your smartphone contract may fail. See ScreenStrong Podcast #90
        • You are dealing with a teen brain
        • You can’t trust your teen—and that is normal, prudent, and perfectly okay.
        • We don’t make deals with our teens.
        • Teens are not your equal; you are the parent.
        • On a practical level, smartphone contracts work about as well as those chore charts did.
        • Smartphone contracts are impossible to enforce.
        • A phone contract may damage your relationship with your teen.
      • A Better Option
        • Delay smartphone use for teens. 
        • Start with a basic phone without internet access.
        • Require manners, etiquette, and responsibility in real life first, before allowing phone ownership. 
        • Don’t mix the phone decision with the social media decision.
        • Spend more time with your teen (off screens).
        • Focus on learning and practicing in-person social skills. 
        • Establish enforceable rules (with clear-cut consequences, not contracts). 
        • Teaching good behavior on a smartphone begins before the teen gets a phone. It must be taught in real life and usually takes about 18 years.
    6. Myth #6: It is wrong to monitor my teen’s smartphone activity; teens need digital privacy. Eighty-two percent of online sex crimes against minors started when the perpetrator used the victim’s social networking site to gain information and introduction. Social Media is not private. (ScreenStrong Blog Post)
    7. Myth #7: My teen won’t have any friends without social media or a smartphone.
      • Science tells us that we can only have five close relationships at any given time. Robin Dunbar, How Many Friends Does One Person Need? Dunbar’s Number and Other Evolutionary Quirks (32-33).
    8. Myth #8: Only overprotective parents delay smartphones.
      • QUOTE: 1:5 girls have experienced major depression. Suicide is at an all time peak. “One-in-five teenage girls – or nearly 2.4 million – had experienced at least one major depressive episode (the proxy measure of depression used in this analysis) over the past year in 2017. By comparison, 7% of teenage boys (or 845,000) had at least one major depressive episode in the past 12 months.” 2019, A growing number of American teenagers – particularly girls – are facing depression. Geiger and Davis Pew Research Center
      • “If parents simply delay the age they give their children smartphones and social media we would see a very different statistic.” Thomas Kersting, author, Disconnected (28).
      • But data shows that the opposite is true. Kids who spend more time in the virtual world, on video games and social media, are less able to function in the real world. They are more depressed, anxious, and dependent. 
    9. Myth #9: My teen needs a smartphone for driving.
      • Texting involves all three types of driving distraction: Manual distractions are those where you move your hands from the wheel; visual distractions are those where you focus your eyes away from the road; a cognitive distraction is when your mind wanders away from the task of driving.
      • Driver distraction is responsible for more than 58% of teen crashes. (REF)
      • Ninety-four percent of teen drivers acknowledge the dangers of texting and driving, but 35% admitted to doing it anyway. (REF
      • 21% of teen drivers involved in fatal accidents were distracted by their cell phones. (REF)
      • 15.6% of young drivers (ages 18-24) have admitted to texting while driving and 20% of them claim to be “not familiar at all” with their state’s texting while driving laws. This is compared with 12.2% who also reported as being “not at all familiar” with state laws. (The Zebra)
      • 14% of fatal crashes involved the use of cell phones. (The Zebra)
      • 14% of distracted driving deaths in driving accidents were attributed specifically to cell phone use, as opposed to other forms of distracted driving. (The Zebra)
      • In 2016, almost four thousand people were killed due to the actions of a distracted driver. (The Zebra)
      • 4,637 people died in car crashes in 2018 due to cell phone use and electronic device use. (The Zebra)
      • 3,255 = number of teen (15 to 19) drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2017. (NHTSA)
      • Research has found that dialing a phone number while driving increases your teen’s risk of crashing by six times, and texting while driving increases the risk by 23 times. (NHTSA)
      • Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. (NHTSA)
    10. Myth #10: A little bit of social media is fine, it is all about balanced use. Moderation doesn’t work for addictive screens.
    11. Myth #11: If I don’t give them use now they will binge and go crazy later. (ScreenStrong Blog)
      • Virtue begets virtue. There is no guarantee, but by delaying smartphones through adolescence, you are increasing the odds that your child will not binge later. Social media (and video gaming) are powerful habit-forming activities. Early use builds cravings and will increase the odds that they will overuse addictive screens in the future, not use them less. Dr. Leonard Sax discusses this in his book The Collapse of Parenting, (131), and Chapter 6.
    12. Myth #12: My kids need smartphones because I need to teach them how to resist temptations while they are under my roof.
      • The science behind habits reveals that the way to resist temptations is by removing tempting cues from the environment, not being more exposed to the tempting activity.
      • The average child will spend significantly more than 10,000 hours on entertainment screen media before college. Your child does not need 10,000 hours to learn how to use social media, a smartphone, or a computer. Practicing technology skills on their school screens is all they need to learn about technology. James Clear, author, Atomic Habits (92-93). Review Lesson 8 in The Solutions Course to read about 10,000 hours.
    13. QUOTE: “Just because social media exists doesn’t mean that our teens need it. They have the rest of their lives to have social media, but only one short window to enjoy being a teen.” – Melanie Hempe, ScreenStrong Founder
    14. Phone companies agree that 18 is a good age to get a smartphone because that is the legal age for a cellphone contract. This is the age when your child can legally sign a phone contract.
    15. QUOTE: “Stop giving smartphones to your children. It can only cause damage. It cannot help. You are giving them something that you know will harm them and you’re doing it because it’s what everyone does.” Matt Walsh, author & speaker
    16. Solution: A basic phone through high school 48 months smartphone free
    17. What Teen Girls need instead of a smartphone: Journal, Physical activity, Girlfriends
    18. QUOTE: “When my mom first suggested taking away my smartphone & social media for a week, I was not happy about it! I truly didn’t think it was affecting me negatively. A week turned into many weeks without it. I started to feel so free. I realized it was doing a lot more bad than good for my mental health. I can now look back now and say that I am thankful she made the decision! “ Lydia Hamann ScreenStrong Teen, ScreenStrong Podcast #16, and interviews.
    19. Video: Letter of resignation from my generation to yours by Lydia Hamann used with permission.
    20. QUOTE: “Do we need parental controls for Legos, books, or pulling weeds in the backyard? No. Rethink how screen use is controlling our kids’ lives and stop giving kids smartphones and video games.”
  1. Video: Adam Brooker, former gamer discusses what it is like to live with a gaming addiction. See the full video here and the full audio on ScreenStrong Podcast Episode #35  
  2. What they are playing. Forty percent of nine-year-old kids are playing Grand Theft Auto—one of the most violent, Mature-rated games on the market. Fortnite is rated 13+ but is extremely popular for 7-12 year old children. Scientific America
  3. ESRB: Entertainment Software Rating Board site.
  4. The Science of Attention. Attention engineers use persuasive design tactics to hold attention and keep the user from putting the screen away. There is brain science behind creating stimulus and rewards that best trigger the dopamine addiction reward pathway. It is the job of the game developer to keep the player glued to the screen. Every element of the game is carefully chosen from music to color to images. Brain science is used to determine every detail of how the game is made.
  5. Keeping ’em Hooked. Video game science uses reward systems that exploit the brain’s natural reward system. All these elements are too powerful for a young brain to overcome. The brain is constantly trying to predict rewards to help us survive. But the brain stops delivering dopamine if the reward becomes predictable. The reason why the intermittent rewards work is because the brain kicks in with new dopamine in anticipation that something good is around the corner. This is the basis for persuasive design. 
    1. In the famous Skinner Box experiment, the pigeon got food each time the button was pressed, but eventually would get bored and stop. However, if the food was randomized and they didn’t know when to expect it, they would keep pecking. REF
  6. The Flow State. Flow is a deep, satisfying state of intense focused, effortless attention and is the ideal condition for forming neuronal pathways.
  7. QUOTE: “The virtual world becomes your reality. The real world becomes an inconvenience. If your child isn’t bored after 30 min of game play you are in trouble.” Adam Brooker, former gamer. (ScreenStrong Podcast Episode #35)
  8. Physical Effects of Gaming (this information is explained in detail in Chapter 2 of Dr. Victoria Dunckley’s book, Reset Your Child’s Brain A Four-Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades, and Boost Social Skills by Reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen-Time.
        • Dopamine
        • Posture problems
        • Fight flight
        • Adrenaline
        • Cortisol
        • Eye strain
        • Frontal cortex shuts down
        • Increasing blood pressure
        • Increased heart rate
        • Muscle weakness
        • Motivation decreases
        • Blood sugar drops
        • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  9. Muscle Weakness In Boys. One of the often overlooked problems with heavy gamers is the general lack of physical strength, a bi-product of lack of physical movement and muscle use. When a child does not experience muscle challenge, he does not express normal levels of testosterone in his body. This leads to stunted muscle development. The result of this sedentary lifestyle results in changes to their bodies: poor posture and shallow breathing, more injuries due to lack of muscle development, gamer thumb or carpel tunnel syndrome, and social immaturity around girls. Breaking The Trance (40). “One of the remarkable and dramatic aspects of screen dependence that we have noticed is the screen-dependent child’s general look of physical weakness. This is specific to boys; it looks as if there is no timbre, no strength, no resilience or stability in their bodies.” Breaking The Trance (39).
  10. Levels of Gaming Immersion: which one describes your gamer? At-risk gamer, Addicted gamer
  11. QUOTE: “A growing percentage of society’s best and brightest, those who should see the world as their oyster, are sacrificing their real life potential in order to beat the next level of a game.” Kurt and Olivia Bruner, PlayStation Nation (78).
  12. Why is My Son Gaming? Dopamine, escape from real life
  13. 3 basic human needs: 1. Autonomy 2. Competence 3. Belonging. ScreenStrong Podcast #23 with Dr. Doug Gentile, and #38 with Tracy Markle.
  14. Other reasons (explored in detail in Dr. Andrew Doan’s book Hooked on Games)
        • Escape
        • Social connection
        • Lazy
        • Replacement for athletics 
        • Creativity 
        • Curiosity
        • Competition
        • Purpose
        • Fill loneliness 
        • Accomplishment 
  15. Quote: “Psychologists estimate that the average young person will dedicate roughly 10,000 hours to playing video games by the time he or she turns 21. Boys account for the overwhelming majority of video game playing. For context, it takes about 4,800 hours to earn a bachelor’s degree.” -Joe Clement & Matt Miles, authors Screen Schooled: Two Veteran Teachers Expose How Technology Overuse Is Making Our Kids Dumber (177).
  16. How Gaming Habits Grow Out of Control
  17. QUOTE: “Age matters. If a boy starts playing video games when he is 9 or 12 or 14 years old, those games may ‘imprint’ on his brain in a way that they won’t if he starts playing at 18.”  Dr. Leonard Sax, author, Collapse Of Parenting (145).
  18. Do violent games make my son violent?
  19. VIDEO: Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman, author of Assassination Generation: Video Games, Aggression, and the Psychology of Killing. Video copyright by ScreenStrong.   
  20. QUOTE: Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman, author of Assassination Generation: Video Games, Aggression, and the Psychology of Killing.
  21. Violent video games affect the player’s brain on a biochemical level. The violent visual imagery inflicted upon children causes stress, which in turn prompts the release of fight-or-flight hormones, as if their brains were responding to a real-life crisis. The forebrain, which controls everything that makes us human, shuts down, leaving the midbrain in charge. The brain has gone into survival mode. 
  22. “Kids playing brutal games have been taught to associate the death and suffering they see with their popcorn, candy bars, sodas, and the scent of their girlfriends’ perfumes. We have millions of children who have been classically conditioned from their youngest days to take pleasure from human death and suffering. To them, at a deep, primal level, human death and suffering is a source of intense pleasure… While healthy kids excel at left-brain logical tasks, gamers show a limited ability to process rational thought. The lasting impact? Stunted social skills and lack of self-restraint.” Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman, author, Assassination Generation: Video Games, Aggression, and the Psychology of Killing (55, 60). Also, ScreenStrong Podcast #70, ScreenStrong Podcast #66
  23. QUOTE: “More than six decades of research on media violence have shown fairly consistently that violent media whether television, film, music, or video games is a risk factor for increased aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.” Douglas Gentile, PhD, author of Game On! Sensible Answers about Video Games and Media Violence (96).
  24. A causal factor for aggression. Gentile says that the effects of media violence are universal and have been found in everyday forms of aggression as well as thought and feeling patterns. He says, “The effect is unlikely to be a simple coincidence, and an anomaly, or a statistical fluke. The evidence supporting this link is as strong as the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer or a high fat diet and heart disease.” Douglas Gentile, author, Game On, Sensible Answers about Video Games and Media Violence (96). The bottom line, Gentile points out, ”If you trust that science has proven cigarettes are a causal risk factor for cancer were that an unhealthy diet is a causal risk factor for heart disease, then you have every reason to trust that the same scientific process has proven that media violence exposure is a causal risk factor for aggressive behavior.” Douglas Gentile, Game On, Sensible Answers about Video Games and Media Violence (135).
  25. Here are three aggressive cognitions that Dr. Douglas Gentile uses to explain how aggression increases when your child plays any violent video game: Hostile Attribution Bias, Normative Beliefs About Aggression, Aggressive Fantasies
  26. Studies on Video Game Aggression:
  27. Fortnite graphic copyright ScreenStrong
  28. Fortnite Rating Summary. From the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB): Fortnite is rated Teen for violence. “Fortnite is an action game in which players build forts, gather resources, craft weapons, and battle hordes of monsters in frenetic combat. Players compete in two multiplayer game modes: Save the World and Battle Royale. From a third-person perspective, players use guns, swords, and grenades to fight skeleton-like monsters (husks) in ranged and melee-style combat. Players can also defeat enemies by using various traps (e.g., electric, spikes, poisonous gas). Battles are highlighted by frequent gunfire, explosions, and cries of pain. In Battle Royale mode, players compete in “last-man-standing”-style shootouts with other players on an island with diminishing borders.” REF
  29. Fortnite Aggression ScreenStrong Blog: How Fortnite Makes Your Son Aggressive
    • Fortnite is marketed as a cartoon style game without virtual blood, complete with cute dances and costumes or skins. Some parents explain, “It’s like Call of Duty for little kids.” But Fortnite is not for little kids. The official rating for Fortnite is T for Teen, meaning no one under 13 should even play. Don’t let the cartoon claim fool you. 
  30. Is Cartoon Violence Okay? Does it matter how realistic the video game violence is?   ” …violent media increases a person’s risk for aggression regardless of whether it is realistic or fantasy-themed. There are theoretical reasons to believe that fantasy violence (e.g. cartoon, violence against aliens, violence with unrealistic consequences) may actually be worse than realistic violence (e.g. violence against humans, violent sports, violence with realistic consequences.)” Douglas Gentile, author, Game On, Sensible Answers about Video Games and Media Violence (172).
  31. The American Academy of Pediatrics: Virtual Violence Position Statement says that viewing cartoon violence has the same negative effect as viewing real violence since kids’ brains interpret all violence the same. 
    • “Parents should be mindful of what shows their children watch and which games they play. When possible, they should co-play games with their children so as to have a better sense of what the games entail. Young children (under the age of 6 years) need to be protected from virtual violence. Parents should understand that young children do not always distinguish fantasy from reality. Cartoon violence can seem very real, and it can have detrimental effects. Furthermore, first-person shooter games, in which killing others is the central theme, are not appropriate for any children.” from American Academy of Ped Policy Statement on Virtual Violence, point 2 on page three of the policy. See also ScreenStrong Blog. More than 50 years of research involving over 300 studies demonstrate that watching TV violence makes kids more aggressive. See more  American Academy of Ped REF Policy Statement on Virtual Violence. 
  32. Video Game Rating System. ESRB Entertainment Software Rating Board 
  33. Dark Side of Video Games
  34. Video: Outside the line (ESPN Article and Video)
  35. Bullying
  36. Pornography
  37. Predators ScreenStrong Podcast #46 with Opal Singleton 
  38. Gaming Mistakes are Easy to Make.
        • Starting too young
        • Creating easy access
        • Using games as a reward
        • Too much privacy in the game
        • Ignoring your gut feeling
        • Using the game to shelter your children and teens
  39. Gaming Disorder in Children and Adolescents. “To be addicted to anything means that you would rather be doing that than anything in the world. And when you’re not doing it, that’s what you’re thinking about doing.”  —Philip Zimbardo REF YouTube min 4:14.
  40. The World Health Organization (WHO) had proposed and later included “gaming disorder” in the 11th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11), released in June 2018, which was approved by the World Health Assembly in May 2019.
  41. How to know if your child is developing an unhealthy dependency The DSM-5 suggests that IGD (Internet Gaming Disorder) may be identified by five or more of the nine following criteria within a 12-month period:  This list includes examples of what these behaviors might look like in your own home and your parenting, so you can better gauge the appropriate response. 
  42. QUOTE: QUICK TEST for Gaming Addiction: Is your child bored after 30 min of gameplay? Can he list three activities he likes more than gaming? If not, he may be headed for trouble.” ScreenStrong.
  43. Warning Signs that my child is gaming too much 
        • Games almost every day
        • Plays for hours at a time
        • Gets restless if he can’t play
        • Sacrifices social and sports for play
        • Plays instead of doing homework
        • Tries to cut down but can’t
        • Seems to be losing interest in real life activities.
  44. “To be addicted to anything means that you would rather be doing that than anything in the world. And when you’re not doing it, that’s what you’re thinking about doing.” REF
  45. What teen boys need instead of video gaming
        • Physical activity
        • Creative outlet
        • Tribe
  46. Video Games & Boys: Common Myths
        • He will Binge later if I take it away
        • He won’t have any friends if he does not game
        • He is learning strategy skills
        • Gaming leads to STEM development
        • Gaming develops his creativity
        • He must learn to manage addictive activities 
        • He will outgrow his gaming habit
  47. Thank goodness these kids weren’t dependent on video games
  48. Will my son hate me if I take his games away?
  49. Looking Ahead: Will Your Gamer Survive College?
        • 85% of college boys are video gamers REF
        • 48% of college gamers report that their gaming keeps them from studying REF
        • Addicted college gamers play an average of 31 hours a week REF
  50. QUOTE: “When video games are played for several hours each day, the prefrontal cortex, the all-important executive function abilities essentially go “offline.” Students find they cannot limit their time playing and easily forget about their important due dates and responsibilities.” Tracy Markle, MA, LPC. Individual & Family Therapist, Founder & Co-Director of Digital Media Treatment & Education Center
  51. QUOTE: “When video games are played for several hours each day, the prefrontal cortex, the all-important executive function abilities essentially go “offline.” Students find they cannot limit their time playing and easily forget about their important due dates and responsibilities” Tracy Markle, MA, LPC. Individual & Family Therapist, Founder & Co-Director of Digital Media Treatment & Education Center. ScreenStrong Podcast #38 with Tracy Markle
  52. “Internet and Video Games” are added to this list in a university presentation to parents on academic impediments. This is taken from a College Parent Orientation meeting, contact ScreenStrong for more details. 
  53. Red Flags of Overuse in College students. From Will Your Gamer Survive College, by Melanie Hempe, (40).
    1. VIDEO: National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
    2. Pornography Statistics and more here
      • 56% of young adults seek out porn at least once a month
      • A new porn movie is produced every 39 minutes 
      • 80% of porn watched is watched on smartphones
      • “Teens” is in the top ten of porn hubs most searched terms for the last 6 years
      • 27% of teen receive sexts 15% send them
      • 57% of teens search for porn at least monthly 
      • 42% of teens frequently clear their browsing history to hide porn usage from their parents
      • Every second:
          • 28,258 users are watching pornography on the internet.
          • $3,075 is being spent on pornography on the internet.
          • 372 people are typing the word “adult” into a search engine.
          • 15% of online content 50% online traffic.
          • 88% of porn scenes contain acts of physical aggression.
    3. The Brain on porn. High Dopamine, see the book, Your Brain on Porn by Garry Wilson for more on the effects of porn on dopamine.
    4. Novelty Dr. Emrah Düzel, UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience says: “When we see something new, we see it has a potential for rewarding us in some way. This potential that lies in new things motivates us to explore our environment for rewards. The brain learns that the stimulus, once familiar, has no reward associated with it and so it loses its potential. For this reason, only completely new objects activate the midbrain area and increase our levels of dopamine.” quote found here.
    5. Mirror neurons. “Mirror neurons are a class of neurons that modulate their activity both when an individual executes a specific motor act and when they observe the same or similar act performed by another individual.”  National Library of Medicine
    6. The Brain’s Porn Library. 
    7. QUOTE: “One image changed my life. When I was 8 years old, a family member showed me a playboy centerfold and said this is what you will look like when you grow up. I wasn’t violated but when I turned 18, I looked like that girl and I went to work in the sex industry. Images are a big deal.” Former porn star, from (Movie) Connect, Kirk Camron, Director. 
    8. Data tells us that increased porn viewing also leads to early and increased sexual activity in teens. Read more here, and National Library of Medicine
    9. What is different about pornography today?
      • Access
      • Early sexual conditioning
      • Fetishes
    10. Unique properties of internet porn. (List)
    11. The teen brain meets high speed internet porn
      • Video: Clip from Gary Wilson (REF)
    12. Why Good Kids look at Porn
      • Easy access
      • Craving novelty
      • Seeking rewards
      • Habit forming
      • Late nights with screens
      • Sleepovers
      • Lack of family communication
      • Too much screen privacy
    13. Quote: “Disciplined people are better at structuring their lives in a way that does not require heroic willpower and self-control. In other words, they spend less time in tempting situations.”  James Clear, author of Atomic Habits
    14. Parental Control Mistakes. 
    15. “Unfortunately, because of the level of difficulty in filtering content on a smartphone, 100% of kids with smartphones will view pornography and other unhealthy content. Because of this, the best age for a smartphone is when you are willing for them to have easy access to pornography.” Melanie Hempe, Founder of ScreenStrong
    16. Parental blind spots. There are more tips on breaking habits in The ScreenStrong Solution course, Part Two of this series. 
    17. Finding porn in the most surprising places.
    18. Quote: “The stakes are too high. You don’t teach virtue by preaching virtue. You teach virtue by requiring virtuous behavior, so that virtuous behavior becomes a habit. Behaving virtuously leads people to become more virtuous as a rule.”- Dr. Leonard Sax, author, American psychologist, and practicing family physician. Quote from The Collapse of Parenting (131).
    19. Stats and Reports From PornHub 
    20. Regarding Video Games and Porn Searches
    21. How to Delay Exposure
    22. Sextortion & Grooming
    23. Myth: “It is better for my teen to learn how to deal with pornography temptations and learn how to resist while they are under my roof and when I can help them.”
    24. Myth: “If I talk with my child about pornography, they will get more interested in it.” 
    25. Is your child in trouble? ScreenStrong Podcast #50 with Barb Winters.
    1. How the Human Brain Learns
    2. It starts with paying attention
      • Short term memory
      • Long term Memory
      • A good night’s sleep
    3. QUOTE: “[Our] children’s use of technology is not the problem—instead concern is rightly directed at our kids’ profound overuse of entertainment technologies that displace their involvement with [the two most crucial elements of their well-being] family and school” Richard Freed, author, Wired Child (7,190).  ScreenStrong Podcast #74 with Dr. Richard Freed, ScreenStrong Podcast #71 with Dr. Richard Freed.
    4. Five Ways Screen Platforms Can Interfere With Learning
      • Multitasking: It can take up to 25 minutes to get back on track once you are interrupted. Switching tasks is mentally fatiguing and negatively impacts long-term memory efficiency by as much as 40% REF. Checking text messages or social media just a couple times during class led students to drop from a “B” to a “C+” on average. REF.
        • “Heavy Multitaskers have trained their brains to constantly search for alternative stimuli. By doing this they neglect the regions of their brains designed to focus. Eventually, with enough neglect, these regions of the brain wither and die. It is not uncommon for teens to also use multiple devices when they are doing homework, which leads to spending more time on homework but getting worse grades.” Screen Schooled (95).
      • Distraction: “Whenever kids are huddling around a phone it is never a good thing.” Screen Schooled (16).
        • Three percent of a teen’s digital time is spent on actual content creation  (real writing, taking a creative photograph, coding, composing a song, etc.) REF Teens with cell phones send 440 text messages a week and 110 a week while in the classroom. REF.
      • Heavy Cognitive Load: Cognitive load is the mental effort needed to process information. Extraneous cognitive load refers to the way information or tasks are presented to a learner. When learning is “gamified” by making programs look like a cartoon show full of cute interfaces and novelty, the available space in a child’s short-term working memory is crowded out. This is why he can get the concept better when he has a tutor working one-on-one with pencil and paper with no distractions at the kitchen table. Regarding cognitive load: REF.
      • Listening to music. Students who listen to music with lyrics have more difficulty concentrating and may struggle more to recall the information they’ve learned because their working memory gets worse. REF, REF Music can also interfere with working memory, so don’t allow ear buds when doing homework. ”Students who listen to music with lyrics may have more difficulty concentrating and may struggle more to recall the information they’ve learned.” REF
      • Cheating in School 35% of students use smartphones to cheat in school REF.  76% of parents say that cell phone cheating happens at their teen’s school, but only 3% believe their own teen has ever used a cell phone to cheat REF. 41% of teens say that storing notes on a cell phone to access during a test is a serious cheating offense, while 23% don’t think it’s cheating at all REF. 45% of teens say that texting friends about answers during tests is a serious cheating offense, while 20% say it’s not cheating at all REF.
    5. Loss of Social Skills. 
    6. Laptops in the classroom? When students are not allowed to use computers in the classroom for a whole semester in college they get better grades, REF and REF.  
    7. Quote: “Unfortunately, the new digital world is a toxic environment for the developing minds of young people. Rather than making digital natives super learners, it has stunted their mental growth.” Matt Miles and Joe Clement, authors, Screen Schooled (23).
    8. Learning On Paper vs. Screens: Paper books are better. It’s harder to map words that aren’t in a fixed location because we lose important visual placeholders. REF.
    9. Reading on screens. Screens are good for skimming and quick reference, but details are often missed.
    10. Note-taking is better on paper. When typing notes in class, students tend to focus on getting the information down verbatim without mentally processing and engaging with the concepts. REF.
    11. Gamifying Learning: Matt Miles and Joe Clement are authors of the book Screen Schooled. They have extensive experience with the subject of how screens interfere with learning. “‘We need to meet kids where they are’ is a phrase echoed at every ed‑tech presentation. Now teachers are encouraged to use laptops and iPads in every class. Instead of introducing education through educational software, teachers are now struggling to cram education into the technology with which young people are comfortable, like social media and video games.” Screen Schooled (intro – ix).
    12. Math. It is also difficult to type math notes on a screen, and trying to do this correctly can cause your child to get behind and lose track of where the teacher is in the material. 
    13. Quote: “Issues created by screen addiction—video game addiction in particular—have led to the rise of a new achievement gap: the gap between boys and girls. In the last decade, males have seen an increase in high school dropout rates, becoming 30 percent more likely to drop out than their female peers. Their reading scores, college admission rates, and college completion rates continue to decline.” —Joe Clement & Matt Miles, Screen Schooled (177) ScreenStrong Podcast #61, ScreenStrong Podcast #64
    14. Signs of Screen Overuse in The Classroom
      • Low grades
      • Video games are frequent topics of book reports, speeches & class projects
      • Falling asleep in class
      • Inability to focus, hyperactivity, low impulse control, nervous habits or ticks
      • Eye problems (Myopia, Dry Eye) ScreenStrong Podcast #73
      • Social awkwardness and isolation
    15. Getting through school firewalls
    16. QUOTE: “College professors are rethinking the use of laptops in the lecture halls because of the inability to pay attention, constant distractions, and misuse.” — ScreenStrong
  1. Quote: Kids born between 1995 and 2005 are “on the brink of the worst mental health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones.” Jean Twenge REF.
  2. 72% of teens say they are struggling with mental health issues. REF 
  3. 1:5 School-aged children have a diagnosable mental disorder. That’s 20% of kids. REF
  4. 1:3 Teens ages 13 – 18 will experience an anxiety disorder. The National Institutes of Health REF and REF
  5. 7.5 Hours a day is the amount of time the average student spends using social media. REF
  6. 1:5 Youth think about suicide, 1:6 makes plans for suicide, 1:11 attempts are made. REF
  7. According to the CDC, the number of 10 to 14 year-olds who took their own lives nearly tripled from 2007 to 2017. REF 
  8. In the U.S., suicide is the second leading cause of death among children and adolescents ages 10-24, and the third leading cause of death among 12-year-olds. In at least one state, Ohio, suicide has become the leading cause of death for kids ages 10 to 14.
  9. See more Surgeon General Report here:mental health challenges were the leading cause of disability and poor life outcomes in young people, with up to 1 in 5 children ages 3 to 17 in the U.S. having a mental, emotional, developmental, or behavioral disorder. Additionally, from 2009 to 2019, the share of high school students who reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness increased by 40%, to more than 1 in 3 students. Suicidal behaviors among high school students also increased during the decade preceding COVID, with 19% seriously considering attempting suicide, a 36% increase from 2009 to 2019, and about 16% having made a suicide plan in the prior year, a 44% increase from 2009 to 2019. Between 2007 and 2018, suicide rates among youth ages 10-24 in the U.S. increased by 57%, – PDF and early estimates show more than 6,600 suicide deaths – PDF among this age group in 2020.” 
  10. Teen Mental Health factors that contribute to mental health problems for young people.
  11. Warning signs: Is your teen depressed? Current generation of teen are more unhappy than any age group. REF
    • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities they used to enjoy. REF
    • Doesn’t like school
    • Friends are anxious and depressed
    • Self harm (cutting)
    • Difficulty sleeping or eating
    • Low energy, unusual fatigue
    • Feelings of guilt about things that are not their fault
    • Difficulty thinking, paying attention, or making decisions
    • Increased tearfulness, crying, or emotional outbursts
    • Spending more time alone, avoiding social activities
  12. Virtual interactions are not satisfying. This is because online attempts at friendships are counterfeit, these attempts look real but will fool even the sharpest teen. Social media is convenient for certain communication needs, but the shallow and addictive nature of its design can be a heavy burden for teenagers and tax their mental health. Teen brains do not yet have the executive function tools that are necessary to navigate the shortcomings of social media. Lower self esteem with social media use. REF
  13. Online activities that are stressful can amplify existing mental health problems. Online activities displace activities known to be vital to physical and mental health: sleep, exercise, and spending time in the presence of others. Online interactions will never fully satisfy the basic need for human connection.
  14. But research reports indicate that when all these factors are considered, heavy use of fast-paced digital media—social media, video games, and pornography—more than doubles a child’s risk of mental health problems. REF. The US Surgeon General reports that online interactions do not satisfy core needs for connection and can leave young people feeling helpless. US Surgeon General Advisory Full PDF Here
    • Also, study by psychologists Dr. Jean Twenge with 44,734 children and adolescents, reports that among 14- to 17-year-olds, high users (7+ hours/day, “were more than twice as likely to ever have been diagnosed with depression, ever diagnosed with anxiety, treated by a mental health professional, or have taken medication for a psychological or behavioral issue in the last 12 months.” 
  15. The attempt to prepare them for responsible use has failed because they are not developmentally equipped with the maturity they need yet. See KBS Lesson 2 regarding teen brain development. Also see the book The Teenage Brain, by Frances Jenson.
  16. Studies show that adolescents who spend more time on social media and electronic devices such as smartphones are more likely to report mental health issues, and adolescents who spend more time on non-screen activities (in-person social interaction, sports/exercise, homework, print media, and attending religious services). From study: Increases in Depressive Symptoms, Suicide-Related Outcomes, and Suicide Rates Among U.S. Adolescents After 2010 and Links to Increased New Media Screen Time.
  17. More references here for social media link to depression in teens. REF, REFAdolescents who spend more than 3 hours per day on social media may be at heightened risk for mental health problems, particularly internalizing problems.” REF
  18. From study in #13 above: More hours of daily screen time are associated with lower psychological well-being. From Twenge study: “After 1 h/day of use, more hours of daily screen time were associated with lower psychological well-being, including less curiosity, lower self-control, more distractibility, more difficulty making friends, less emotional stability, being more difficult to care for, and inability to finish tasks.”
    • Less curiosity
    • Less self-control
    • Less focused
    • Less confidence in making friends
    • Less emotional stability
    • Less able to finish tasks
    • More difficult to care for
  19. A ScreenStrong lifestyle Increases the chances for more advantages on many levels.
    • More creative & innovative
    • More confident
    • More physically active
    • More focused
    • More friendly
    • More emotionally intelligent
    • More charismatic in social settings
  20. More than mental health problems. Problematic smartphone use associated with greater alcohol consumption, mental health issues, poorer academic performance, and impulsivity. REF
  21. Teen boys and girls use digital media differently. Statistics show that girls suffer more from anxiety than boys. More boys are seen by therapists for ADHD or oppositional defiant disorder—they act out problems. More girls are seen for anxiety and depression—they turn inward. See Leonard Sax, Girls on the Edge (5-7).
  22. Suicide. In the United States, emergency room visits for suicide attempts rose 51 percent for adolescent girls in early 2021 as compared to the same period in 2019. The figure rose 4 percent for boys. (CDC)
  23. CHART. Girls are more depressed than boys. REF; REF Anorexia REF
    • Depression  The number of teens with depression doubled between 2011 and 2019. More than 23% of girls ages 12-17 experienced a major depressive episode during 2019. Twenge, Joiner, Rogers, & Martin (2018). Increases in depressive symptoms, suicide-related outcomes, and suicide rates among U.S. adolescents after 2010 and links to increased new media screen time. Clinical Psychological Science.
    • Cutting and self harm REF
    • Suicide increase was highest for girls ages 10-14 REF
    • Anorexia. 90% of teens with anorexia are female. REF 53% of American girls report that they are unhappy with their bodies at age thirteen. 78%percent are unhappy with their bodies at age seventeen. REF
  24. Boys vs girls. Teen boys are tempted more by video game use which can lead to unproductivity, less motivation, and depression. Teen girls struggle more with social media use which can cause deep problems with stress, anxiety, and depression. See more on this in Leonard Sax’s books: Girls on the Edge and Boys Adrift. 
  25. Difference in boys and girls brains. Boys have more active and larger limbic centers (fight first think second), girls have a larger neocortex (friends first). See Robin Dunbar’s research in his book How Many Friends Does One Person Need? (16-17). Also, info here on boys and girls on social media. 
  26. Video game characteristics:
    • User interacts in real time, talking via their headsets
    • Not as portable, hence, they are used less
    • Some games have natural stopping points
    • Success is concrete, can be measured by levels
    • Time investment pays off as levels are reached
  27. Social Media Characteristics:
    • Not in real time, waiting between responses creates anxiety
    • Portable, interferes with face-to-face social interaction. Phones can be brought into private places   
    • No stopping point, never-ending
    • Success is not concrete; rules change without warning 
    • No guarantee, time investment with creating posts may not pay off
  28. Why Girls Are More At-Risk
    • Experts tell us that the pain from social rejection is felt the strongest during the teen years.
  29. “Virtual rejection is an everyday experience for most teens, and it is more harmful than parents realize. What may sound silly to an adult is devastating to a teen. Being left out of a group text, not being tagged on a photo, or not getting the likes they crave on their new TikTok video can feel like the emotional equivalent of getting laughed at in the hallway at school. This type of rejection during the teen years can leave permanent emotional scars.” Learn more about this in the book Disconnected by Thomas Kersting. 
  30. MRIs show that rejection experiences increase activity in the part of the brain that responds to physical pain. Studies tell us that the pain from rejection—rejection dysphoria—is at its peak at the age of 15 for girls. See The Village Effect, by Susan Pinker (176) .This means that the most pain felt from rejection will be during the age that most girls are spending a lot of time on social media. When rejection pain is great so is anxiety and depression. REF  Rejection Dysphoria, REF, REF Social brain development and the affective consequences of ostracism in adolescence. Why Does Social Exclusion Hurt? The Relationship Between Social and Physical Pain
  31. Types of Rejection
    • Direct
    • Indirect
    • Public
    • Chronic
  32. Effects of Rejection
    • Leads to: anger, anxiety, depression, jealousy, sadness, aggression
    • Reduces: intellectual tasks, impulse control, immune system, sleep
  33. QUOTE: Heavy use of screen media double’s the child’s risk of being diagnosed with depression. REF
  34. The consequence of rejection pain
    • Change behavior to fit in
    • Seek inclusion in another group
    • Take on the bully role
  35. From a parent: As one dad put it, “I feel horrible for my 16-year-old daughter who has been through hell with depression and anxiety because of social media. I am wondering how many tears we could have spared and how much time and money we’ve wasted on medication and therapy when all we needed to do was eliminate the social media problem.” FB post from ScreenStrong Families FB Group
  36. Screen activities that can cause problems
    • Video Games
    • Pornography
    • Social media
  37. Quote: What increases depression and unhappiness? More time on social media, feeling envious while on social media, checking social media at night. “Teenagers who engage with social media during the night could be damaging their sleep and increasing their risk of depression and anxiety, research shows.”
  38. 10 ways social media can harm teen mental health: 
    1. Early exposure to adult topics, violence, and negative content Early exposure REF, Doomscrolling REF REF Dr Bill Petite on Panic Attacks – social anxiety Inside Out Video here
    2. Interruption of identity development & communication skills. REF
    3. Delayed maturity: Jean Twinge points to the delayed maturity development in teens: “Across a range of behaviors — drinking, dating, spending time unsupervised — 18-year-olds now act more like 15-year-olds used to, and 15-year-olds more like 13-year-olds … Childhood now stretches well into high school.” REF
      • Communication skills and emotional intelligence are being traded for practicing abbreviated texting and picking out the perfect emojis. 
      • It is best to allow your child to progress through the natural stages of development and learn the harder executive function skills first without taxing them with skills that will not only cause anxiety but prove to be invaluable down the road. When childhood is rushed, there is a greater risk for mental health problems. From Dr. Peter Nieman, “The mental impact of an accelerated childhood is huge. When these rushed children say goodbye to the innocent years of early childhood they are at a higher risk of anxiety and depression; their sleep may deteriorate; they are at risk for developing pathological eating habits.” quote found here
    4. Fear of missing out (FOMO)
    5. Comparison to others and pressure to be perfect. Social comparison REF
    6. Loss of empathy
    7. Lack of privacy
    8. Disorders can be contagious. Recent studies in the medical literature conclude that mental health may be highly contagious, much like infectious diseases. REF Friends are very influential in the spread of mental health disorders from one person to another, to up to three degrees of separation (friends of friends). This is known as the network phenomena. REF From the site of Dr. Michael Yapko, author of Depression is Contagious, “..the latest research provides overwhelming evidence that depression is far more a social problem than a medical disease. Depression’s effects reach into the interactions you have with others, rippling destructively through marriages, families, work environments and communities like a viral contagion.” REF Depression spreads to friend groups Social network determinants of depression (nature.com)
    9. Too much power. 
    10. Loss of protection and family influence
  39. Improving Mental Resilience. See The ScreenStrong Solutions (Part 2 of this series).

The Solutions Course—Outline & References

  1. Rethink your parent role.
    • Parenting styles: Forty years of research says that the Just Right (authoritative) parenting style with a high degree of warmth and a high degree of control, is the most beneficial for long term success for children. This information is found in Chapter 7 of Dr. Leonard Sax’s book, The Collapse of Parenting.
    • More information about parenting styles is found in the book Grit by Angela Duckworth
  2. QUOTE: “Authoritative parents appreciate that children need love, limits, and latitude to reach their full potential. Their authority is based on knowledge and wisdom rather than power…teens with warm, respectful, and demanding parents earned higher grades in school, were more self-reliant, suffered less from anxiety and depression, and were less likely to display delinquent behavior.” Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, p. 212, 213.
  3. The Dilemma. It is difficult for parents to get over the confusion, they have biases and blinds spots that may keep them from stepping back and seeing the bigger picture. See Screenstrong blog on blindspots. 
  4. Why the Coach Approach Works Best – see information from KBS Lesson Two on parent-oriented teens. 
  5. The first thing they hear will stick. Information on anchoring Bias is found in the KBS course Lesson Three.
  6. Benefits of ScreenStrong parenting. Benefits of new coaching role. These benefits have been observed through interaction with ScreenStrong parents since 2015.
  7. 3 Steps to become your child’s best coach.
    1. Form your tribe. In the book The Village Effect Susan Pinker points out that research tells us that people with a strong tribe or village are healthier and happier. The Dunbar Number suggests that humans are capable of having 5 close friendships, the suggested number of 5-6 families, this number is taken from interviews with families who have been successful being ScreenStrong.
    2. Gathering support. See ScreenStrong blog to learn about setting limits with co-parenting. Listen to Podcast here about being a single parent and being ScreenStrong.
    3. QUOTE: “Parents are all too worried that their children will be misfits if they are not plugged in. We should be far more concerned with helping our children realize their potential as human beings.” Gordon Neufeld, PhD, and Gabor Maté, MD, Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers. 2014, Page 284.
    4. Focus on Values. Family Values list: https://family.lovetoknow.com/list-family-values
    5. Family Motto examples: https://family.lovetoknow.com/family-mottos 
  1. Planning Ahead. Your children are not born with a natural desire to resist the pull of technology. See Lesson 3 in the KBS to review more about the persuasive design elements in screens.
  2. Align with Spouse  
  3. Mental Prep. Here are the top five books to get started on your reading. Go here for more. Breaking the Trance (Johnsoon), Wired Child (Freed), Reset your Child’s Brain (Dunckley), The Collapse of Parenting (Sax), Glow Kids (Kardaras)
  4. Physical Prep
    • Home environment: we recommend White Mountain Puzzles.
    • Gather supplies: We have an Amazon store with ideas for a starter kit when you start your detox. 
    • Talk/Text phone we recommend the Gabb phone basic plan, use code “strong.”
    • Lessons and teams: Suzuki music lessons are wonderful to get started. Call ahead to your neighborhood sports centers or YMCAs for non-school teams, clubs, classes.
    • Bonding activities for video games. 30 for 30 is a good documentary series for kids interested in sports, vintage TV shows work well too (Andy Griffith, Leave it to Beaver, Lost in Space, The Brady Bunch)
    • Backyard: a disk swing, a firepit, a basketball hoop are all great ideas to get your kids outdoors. 
  5. The science of friendship. The Dunbar Number, by Robin Dunbar, chapter 3, has fascinating research about the number of relationships the human brain can handle at any given time. (page 32-33 of Dunbar’s book. This is very helpful when you consider the stress that too many relationships cause for teens who have shifted their social worlds to social media. The information regarding the number of hours it takes to build a friend from stranger to good friend is in Chapter 3 and in this study.
  6. Be prepared for pushback. The best place to start with this is Victoria Dunckley’s book, Reset Your Child’s Brain. P 169-174.
  7. Teen driving distractions. Cell phones cause over 1 in 4 car accidents. “Teen drivers are 4x more likely than adults to get into car crashes or near-crashes when talking or texting on a cell phone. A teen driver with only one additional passenger doubles the risk of getting into a fatal car accident.” “It’s estimated that at least 23% of all car accidents each year involve cell phone use – that’s 1.3 million crashes. 3,331 people were killed and 387,000 were injured in accidents involving a distracted driver”. Go here and here  for more information.
  8. Teacher/coach communication. We recommend that all schools use a sports app for communication. Some suggestions are TeamSnap, Family App etc.
  9. Homework. Instead of allowing everything and trying to use a filter to block a few bad sites, we recommend locking down all internet activity and only allowing sites that you determine are needed. Microsoft Family has a free program that will do this. You will then be contacted if your child needs access to a site and you can simply approve it on your phone. Co-viewing with your child when they are doing homework is the best way to keep every search public and keep them on task. You will be surprised at how quickly they can get their homework done when a parent is present. 
  10. Paper and pen. See KBS lesson 7 for more info on screens in school. 
  11. Form your community. Join the ScreenStrong Families Facebook Group and email us for more info on becoming a School Rep or an Ambassador. 

 

  1. QUOTE: “Nearly all children will have a negative emotional or behavioral reaction when they hear their beloved devices will be gone, but know if other parents have survived it, you can too.” Victoria Dunckley, Reset Your Child’s Brain, p.164 
  2. Second-hand effect of screen time. Parents rarely consider the effects that their child’s screen use is having on the other children around them. Studies say that even in a classroom, the kids who sit around a student who is on task on their laptop will get worse grades. Texting is distracting to nearby students. REF. Students in the vicinity of another student who was multitasking on a laptop during class scored worse on a test than those who were not near multitaskers REF. Results are better if a fellow student is on-taks. REF
  3. Keep the conversations going. Screens are not going away so the conversation about them shouldn’t either. 
  4. Seek professional help when needed but do your research first. Ask questions about what conferences they have attended, books they have read and any other information they can tell you about their position on kids and screen time. Trust your gut instincts when you are seeking help for your child.
  1. The science of habits. Suggested reading, Atomic Habits by James Clear and The Power of Habits, by Charles Duhigg
  2. Habits change the brain. See more info here: interview, and here
  3. QUOTE: “The line separating a habit from an addiction can be hard to measure.” —ScreenStrong
  4. QUOTE: “Your identity emerges out of your habits. Every action is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.” Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit, p. 41
  5. Keystone habits, a term used by Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, p 97.
  6. Eating dinner as a family: Studies that show the benefits of eating together as a family.Research published in JAMA Pediatrics, based on a survey of nearly 19,000 students, found clear associations between cyberbullying and anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. And with as many as one in five young people experiencing some form of cyberbullying, that’s a major problem. However, teens who ate dinner with their families (ideally four or more times each week) reported fewer problems as a result of being bullied. The study authors note that regular family contact facilitates more parental guidance and open communication between kids and their parents.
    1. According to a 2011 study published by Cornell University, children who regularly enjoy family meals are 35 percent less likely to have eating disorders, 24 percent more likely to eat healthier foods, and 12 percent less likely to be overweight.
  7. Making your bed: in his book Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg says, “making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and stronger skills at sticking with a budget.” p.109. Making your bed is what he calls a “keystone habit,” a habit that has the potential to kick start a pattern of other good behavior. Another good book on this topic is Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World, by Admiral William H. McRaven 
  8. Exercising: Exercise as a treatment for depression: A meta-analysis (REF)
  9. Negative habits:
    • Video games, see KBS Lesson 5
    • Social media, see KBS Lesson 4
    • Pornogrpahy, see KBS Lesson 6
    • Junk food
  10. Willpower: Disciplined people stay away from temptation. James Clear says that the research is strong on this topic, “… “disciplined” people are better at structuring their lives in a way that does not require heroic willpower and self-control. In other words, they spend less time in tempting situations.” p. 92-93.
  11. QUOTE: “You can break a habit, but you’re unlikely to forget it. Once the mental grooves of habit have been carved into your brain, they are nearly impossible to remove entirely—even if they go unused for quite a while. And that means that simply resisting temptation is an ineffective strategy.” James Clear, p 94.
  12. Virtue. Dr. Leonard Sax says, “We harm our kids when we treat them like adults. The stakes are too high. You don’t teach virtue by preaching virtue [by having conversations]. You teach virtue by requiring virtuous behavior, so that virtuous behavior becomes a habit. […] Behaving virtuously leads people to become more virtuous as a rule. The Collapse of Parenting, p. 131.
  13. QUOTE: “We become a product of the environment that we live in.To put it bluntly, I have never seen someone consistently stick to positive habits in a negative environment. A more reliable approach is to cut bad habits off at the source.” – James Clear, Atomic Habits, p. 94.
  14. The habit loop. This is universal information but can be found in Atomic Habits p.47-53. and The Power of Habits, Chapter 1,The Habit Loop, p.3.
  15. Stopping a screen habit. This section is rooted in the science of habits. Also, Reset Your Child’s Brain by Victoria Dunckley covers more information on detoxing your screened dependent child.
  16. The 30 Day Challenge is a ScreenStrong Digital Detox found here
  17. See the ScreenStrong Starter kit for ideas in our Amazon store. 
  18. The moderation Trap. 
  1.  
  1.  
  1. Emily’s Story. PlayStation Nation, by Kirk and Olivia Bruner, story in Introduction, (XVII). This book is out of print now but can still be located. It is an excellent resource for parents who want to hear a first-hand account of one families quest to discover the truth behind gaming addiction. Emily’s Story is used with permission from the authors.
  2. The cold-turkey approach. Dr. Victoria Dunckley, “You need to take an all-or-nothing approach because of the way the brain is wired. It’s really the only way this is going to be successful. Once the nervous system becomes overstimulated, you have to remove all unnatural stimulation for it to reset.” From a conversation with Dr. Dunckley in 2020. Dr. Dunckley is the author of, Reset Your Child’s Brain. A Four-Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades, and Boost Social Skills by Reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen-Time. A Four-Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades, and Boost Social Skills by Reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen-Time.
  3. QUOTE: “You have to go cold turkey. Nothing will compare to the excitement and draw of the game. And you need to absolutely get it out of your house. Otherwise, your kids will find it. I know. I did.” Interview with Adam Brooker, former gamer. ScreenStrong Podcast Episode #35.
  4. Tips for parents with teens. It is not unusual for teens to have multiple social media accounts or use a friend’s device to get on social media. Social media accounts are very difficult to erase, you can delete the app but the account is still accessible. 
    1. Let friends know
    2. Look for rogue devices
    3. Get a camera
  5. Teaching responsible use. Refer to the book by Francis Jenson, The Teenage Brain, for more information on how the teen brain is in a stage of transition. 
    • Brain development Teens are in a stage of development that is characterized by a reorganization of brain processes and neuronal connections. See KBS Lessons 1 and 2.
        •  “Subcortical brain areas, especially the limbic system and the reward system, develop earlier, so that there is an imbalance during adolescence between the more mature subcortical areas and less mature prefrontal areas. This may account for typical adolescent behavior patterns, including risk-taking.” reference here. 
        • Early and excessive exposure to toxic screen activities increases the risks for social, emotional, and mental health problems in our culture today.  See Mental Health Lesson 8 in the KBS for more information.
    • Addiction Prevention improves when the facts are taught and the substances are not allowed during adolescence. Just like screens, drugs and alcohol are part of our culture. Preventing addictive substances and activities is only successful when access is denied. Studies show that access must be taken if addiction prevention will be successful for teens. 
    • Video games and social media are two of the riskiest and most addictive activities that our children face in our culture today. This is due to the fact that the average teen spends over 50 hours a week on leisure screens and the adult content that they are exposed to which causes stress. 
    • 90% of all adult addiction begin before 18.
    • Responsible use takes time. Insurance rates paint the picture as rates don’t drop until the age of 25. This directly coincides with the facts from human development: the brain is not fully developed until the age of twenty five. Drivers under the age of 25 are statistically more likely to cause an accident 
    • Risk recognition and predictive skills are not also fully developed till the age of 25.
  6. Not life skills. Video games, social media, and pornography are addictive activities, they are not life skills. Refer to Lesson 7 for more info on life skills. When parents understand that these leisure screen activities are not life skills they are more empowered to ensure that these screen activities do not become the primary activities for their children or where they spend the majority of their entertainment time.
  1. Environment. Changing your environment is the most important element because your home is where your child’s screen habits are formed. Many addicts return home from drug or alcohol rehab centers only to have a relapse because they are returning to a trigger-rich environment. In the book Atomic Habits, Chapter 6, James Clear explains the power of the environment when it comes to breaking habits.
  2. Your House Drives Your Child’s Screen Habits. It is easy to spot problems in a screen-saturated home. When gaming controllers are out in common areas, tablets out on the coffee table, and open laptops on the kitchen counter, your child will have a difficult time holding back on screen time and getting interested in other activities.
  3. One marketing psychology study demonstrated that items that are displayed on an endcap in a grocery store could generate a 416% sales uplift. 
  4. QUOTE: Make the bad choices as invisible as possible and good choices visible. James Clear, Atomic Habits, p.88.
  5. Showcase Art. Use inexpensive frames to display your child’s art. Don’t worry about a perfect house, make your home look lived in and personal to your family. Put it in the main areas of the house, not just in the back hall or garage. Worry about your HGTV house after they leave the nest if that is important to you.
  6. Display values. One very easy way to write values on the wall is to print them out in the font you want, use carbon paper to trace them on the wall, then use a fine tip paint brush to paint over the tracing. 
  7. Display Birthdays. You kids and all of their friends will feel very special when they see their birthday displayed in your home out in the open.
  1.  “To really prepare for the workforce of tomorrow, parents and educators should focus on ensuring kids are armed not with any job-specific qualification, such as coding. Instead they should be more concerned that children master high-level skills that will remain difficult for A.I. to automate. Such skills include critical thinking (yes, DeepMind says AlphaCode needed to exhibit some critical thinking to compete in the coding contest, but for now, the sort of critical thinking needed to read a scientific paper and determine its flaws, or to develop a novel constitutional law argument, is beyond the abilities of A.I.). They also include those things that are uniquely human: emotional intelligence, human touch, and creativity. Fields that require high levels of these skills are the least likely to see major job losses as a result of A.I., at least in the next few decades.“ Fortune.com 
  2. QUOTE: “A young adult lacking life skills is not prepared to succeed in life…having things done for you… can also lead to a kind of ‘learned helplessness.” Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of   How to Raise an Adult : Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success, p.163
  3. What is needed for life skills?
    • Thinking ahead. Predictive skills are not fully in place till after college. This is why children need parents and other caring adults in their life. They need to learn by doing but they also need to be guided. Practicing the skill of thinking ahead is an executive function skill that teens need to practice by doing.Packing for a trip, making a dentist appointment, planning to work ahead on homework when you have a busy week are all ways to learn this skill.  
    • Maintaining consistency. Many parents get tripped up when they think their child knows a life skill when they did it once. Consistency is the key to maturity. 
    • Follow Through. It is usually easy to get the first 80% of the job done, what is hard is the last 20%. The 80/20 rule applies to many areas of life. Your job is to get your teen to focus on finishing tasks. Resist the urge to do this for your child. The kitchen isn’t clean until the floor is mopped. 
  4. How screen use derails life skills
    • Not enough time
    • Low quality work
    • Increased family conflict
    • Increased laziness
  5. Chores are a Chore. The famous Harvard Grant Study reveals that hard work and chores done in childhood are at the top of the list for the highest predictors for not only life happiness, but also future success across all fronts. Harvard study says that sparing chores spoils children. More here, and here
  6. QUOTE: “Highly self-disciplined adolescents outperformed their more impulsive peers on every academic-performance variable. Self-discipline predicted academic performance more robustly than did IQ. Self-discipline also predicted which students would improve their grades over the course of the school year, whereas IQ did not. Self-discipline has a bigger effect on academic performance than does intellectual talent.” Angela L Duckworth, Martin E P Seligman, “Self-Discipline Outdoes IQ in Predicting Academic Performance of Adolescents
  7. Developing self-discipline. Doing chores helps with this executive function skill. Your elementary child is able to do their laundry by themselves; these types of chores teach them a lot. Parents have everything they need right under their roof to teach their children life skills and help them have an edge and get ahead.
  8. The ability to delay gratification is one of the most important life skills. Research shows that the ability for a child to delay gratification is one of the best predictors of long-term success. The famous marshmallow experiment is a study done in 1972 that proved that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards (marshmallows) tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment,body mass index (BMI), and other life measures.
  9. The chore mistake. This is one of the biggest reasons why kids are so trapped on their screens, parents are doing their life skills for them. There is not enough time in a child’s life to be on screen media entertainment AND adequately learn the life skills they need to learn to launch successfully.
  10. Your child is not born knowing important life skills, you must teach them. It is easy to teach life skills.
    1. QUOTE: “I don’t think it is too much to say that play can save your life. It certainly has salvaged mine. Life without play is a grinding, mechanical existence organized around doing the things necessary for survival. Play is the stick that stirs the drink. It is the basis of all art, games, books, sports, movies, fashion, fun, and wonder—in short, the basis of what we think of as civilization. Play is the vital essence of life. It is what makes life lively.” ― Stuart Brown, Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul p. 11. More quote from Play here.
    2. Play is necessary for survival.  “When we play we are engaged in the purest expression of our humanity, the truest expression of our individuality. When we play we are engaged in the purest expression of our humanity, the truest expression of our individuality.” He says that play shapes the brain, makes us smarter, fosters empathy, and is at the core of creativity and innovation. Stuart Brown, Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, p 5.
    3. Play is a protective factor for mental health. “I studied murder cases in prisons and found the absence of play in their childhood was as important as any other single factor in predicting their crimes.” Dr. Stuart Brown, Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, p 26.  “Play is nature’s greatest tool for creating new neural networks and for reconciling cognitive difficulties.” p127-128.
      • From Blog by: Stuart Brown, MD. National Institute for Play November 05, 2018 The Science of Play: Rough and Tumble Play – Consequences of a Play Deprived Life (Part 2 of 2): “But Whitman then seemed to me as a researcher as a once in a lifetime rare aberration, He was a bright troubled highly stressed individual with unique background triggers. That is, his history seemed unique until I had spent the better part of a year interviewing homicidal males in the Texas Huntsville Prison, and compared their overall histories with a matched comparison population. Of course we had a team able to conduct live interviews of both the homicidal males and a large comparison population. What leapt out of the information we were accumulating was that both Whitman and the homicidal males had NOT engaged in normal rough and tumble play. No memories of playground buddies. No involvement in games of chase and escape. Lots of aggression or isolation. Whereas the comparison group had almost 100% recall of exuberant childhood “free play” with positive remembrances of the names of playmates; who was the fastest, most cagey players, etc, with much recall of playground or other free play times with neighborhood or school-yard friends.
    4. Play is practice for real life.  “The ability to play is critical not only to being happy, but also to sustaining social relationships and being a creative, innovative person.”  Stuart Brown, MD, Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul. p 6.
    5. Play is necessary for socialization. Jordan Peterson, in his 12 Rules For Life, says that a well-socialized child knows play cues by the age of 4. If your child is an outcast—like a puppy who bites—before they enter school, it will be nearly impossible to reverse the trajectory. Here is a talk by Jordan Peterson.
    6. Play is great for regulating energy. Active play and ADHD. Active play allows your child to “get his energy out,” a critical part of a child’s day. It is not surprising that exercise is now a proven treatment for ADHD and that increased movement and exercise in school results in higher grades. Study here.
      • “Young children require 2-3 hours per day of active rough and tumble play to achieve adequate sensory stimulation to their vestibular, proprioceptive and tactile systems.“ Cris Rowan, OT. REF
      • Real play meets the human need to interact with the physical world, to feel the tug of gravity as well as the literal push and pull of the natural cause and effect of nature. Cris Rowan, “Humans have 2 sensorimotor systems that are stimulated by movement: the vestibular system located in the brain (often referenced as our “inner ear”) and the proprioceptive system located in our muscles. These 2 systems integrate with each other and with the visual system to provide core stability, motor coordination and balance. Children who don’t move, don’t adequately develop these essential sensorimotor systems resulting in poor core stability, coordination and balance with consequent need to reach out to use the wall for stability.” Cris Rowen, via email communications. 
    7. Outdoor Play. Benefits of outdoor play Angela Hanscom is a pediatric occupational therapist and author of the bestselling book Balanced and Barefoot who recently started a therapeutic outdoor program for kids called TimberNook. In a recent interview with the Huffington Post Hanscom said, “Movement through active free play, especially outside, improves everything from creativity to academic success to emotional stability.” Hanscom says that, ideally, kids should be playing outside for three hours each day, not including organized sports.
    8. The Tools of Play. The use of our hands to manipulate 3-D objects is an essential part of brain development and one of the top tools needed for real play. The hands and the brain are closely dependent on each other as the hands interact with the environment and send messages to the brain.
    9. Activities are physically healthy. Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health conducted a study with over 12,500 participants. The teens activity level matched the 60 year old group.
    10. Activities make your child interesting. Studies show that having at least two activities outside of school will increase the odds that they will have a richer life. REF 
    11. The Science of Extracurricular activities. Extracurricular activities usually meet on a regular basis, generally after school, include a group of same-age peers, and are, most importantly, led by committed adults.The coach or teacher will usually have practice weekly, require discipline, and focus on specific goals. A coach or mentor—not another teen—is providing good examples, teaching character, building relationships, and helping kids to develop executive functioning and life skills through the activity.
    12. Margo Gardner published a study in 2008 entitled: Adolescents’ participation in organized activities and developmental success 2 and 8 years after high school: do sponsorship, duration, and intensity matter? This study consisted of research with over 11,000 teens. It showed that participation in organized extracurricular activities was a very important marker for students’ long-term success. Gardner discovered that high school students who participated in and showed at least a slight increase in skill with at least two extracurricular adult-led activities for two consecutive years had much greater success in college and future employment, including earning higher incomes. In another study, The Personal Qualities Project by Warren Willingham, he demonstrated that extracurricular activities ultimately mattered more than grades. According to the study, students who did not participate in one multi-year extracurricular activity earned the lowest grades. Of course, the key is following through with the initial commitments along with helping them work through difficulties and teaching them to stick to something even when the “going gets tough.” Getting together to play video games or sit alone on your bed to scroll social media is not an extracurricular activity, even if friends are doing it with you.
    13. 10,000 hours. Four hours a day from 6th – 12th grade is 10,220 hours.
    14. Discovering your child’s interest. “…interests are not discovered through introspection. Instead, interests are triggered by interactions with the outside world. The process of interest discovery can be messy, serendipitous, and inefficient. This is because you can’t really predict with certainty what will capture your attention and what won’t…Without experimenting, you can’t figure out which interests will stick, and which won’t.” from Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth, p 104.
    15. Bill Gates read the Encyclopedia Britannia when he was a child. 
    16. QUOTE: Effort counts twice as much as talent. Teach children that there is an obvious connection between effort and reward. Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Chapter Three: Effort Counts Twice
    17. Which is it? Gift or grit?  Researchers demonstrate that developing grit and building a strong work ethic is more important than hoping for natural talent to kick in. Duckworth says that what we see as giftedness in our culture is an overabundance of grit. Kids who are artistic, athletic, musical, etc. are not born that way; they work harder than others at their interests. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth, Chapter Three: Effort Counts Twice
    18. Peak: Secrets From the New Science of Expertise, K. Anders Ericsson agrees with Duckworth and also debunks the myth that people are born gifted. 
    19. Leisure Screen time is a Risky Hobby. The dark side of play. Brown says playing a video game is not real play. “When someone is domineering, aggressive, or violent they are not engaged in true play no matter what they are doing,” p 180, “When someone is gaming or watching a screen, there is no engagement in the natural world, no development of the social nuances that are part of maturation in us as social species. p.183. When someone is deprived of true play they are more likely to engage in narcissistic play. p 169 Healthy play never hurts others or opens the doors for unhealthy consequences.
    20. QUOTE: “RULE NUMBER 5: Never let your children do anything that makes you dislike them. ” Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules Life An Antidote To Chaos, Rule/Chapter 5, p 113.
    21. Tips Regarding Kids Quitting Activities
    22. Tips Regarding Practicing Music. One of the best ideas for a piano if you don’t have room for a large one is a regular-size keyboard digital piano. No tuning, small, and the songs can be digitally recorded. 
    23. Tips Regarding Reading. From Reading Rewards: “But reading can be a great source of self-soothing for children (and adults) experiencing stress. Recent studies by Mindlab International at Sussex University shows that reading for as little as six minutes a day can reduce the heart rate and stress levels by 60% or more. That’s 300% better than going for a walk and 700% more than playing video games! When kids read, they’re distracted from their worries. Reading alters our state of consciousness: it stirs the imagination, stimulates creativity, and focus our minds. Reading can help kids understand their own emotional well-being and help them learn to cope with their feelings. And when they read in the company of family members they love and trust, reading can transport them in a safe, non-threatening environment.”
  1. Family Attachment. The parent-child attachment bond is a secure emotional connection that forms through the process of spending time together. This bond forms a connection that positively influences your child at every stage of development from crawling to college.      
  2. “Adolescence is characterized by significant neurological, cognitive and socio psychological development. With the advance of adolescence, the amount of time spent with parents typically drops while time spent with peers increases considerably. Nonetheless, parents continue to play a key role in influencing their adolescent’s development. Adolescent-parent attachment has profound effects on cognitive, social and emotional functioning. Secure attachment is associated with less engagement in high risk behaviors, fewer mental health problems, and enhanced social skills and coping strategies.” from Adolescent-parent attachment: Bonds that support healthy development
  3. Survival depends on attachments to people. “If we don’t interact regularly with people face-to-face, the odds are we won’t live as long, remember information well,or be as happy as we could have been.” The Village Effect, How Face-to-Face Contact Can Make Us Healthier, Happier, and Smarter. Susan Pinker, p 8. “Our social ties influence our satisfaction with life, our cognitive skills, and how resistant we are to infections and chronic disease. Dozens of recent studies demonstrate how close social contact affects our physiological resilience, that’s how briskly our body bounces back after trauma—MRIs show greater tissue repair.” The Village Effect. Susan Pinker, p 9. 
  4. Protection & Direction. The parent bond is equally important in the teen years as it is in the younger years, it just looks a little different. 
  5. Choosing parents over the pack. A teens biggest fear is being alone and being left out of the social group. 
  6. Teens are more vulnerable to being alone because they are still searching for their identity and their world is stressful and they don’t have coping skills yet to logically understand the emotions of FOMO, so they overreact. REF Fueled by the fear of being alone, your teen will follow a pack of lost peers anywhere. Also see book Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than PeersHold On To Your Kids, Neufeld, Maté, MD. 
  7. Quote: “The fundamental issue we as parents need to face is that of the competing attachments that have seduced our children away from our loving care. Today’s children are not only turning to their peers but they are actively and energetically turning away from their parents.” Gordon Neufeld, PhD, and Gabor Maté, MD, Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers. P.
  8. Virtual attachments. Toxic Screen Use Can Break the Adolescent-Parent Bond. Virtual attachments reduce time, trust, and respect with parents. 
  9. Build attachments offline instead 
    • Limit media access: Allow screen time but not toxic screen time. 
    • Promote healthy peer relationships. The goal: More time in person with friends.
    • Spend time together: Where your time is spent is where your attachments will be. 
    • Strengthen the parent-child bond: Re-secure your home base and provide a safe-haven from toxic stressors. 
  10. Why Being Different is Difficult. See Screen Strong blog
  11. Quote: “The average family only spends 37 minutes together each weekday.” REF
  12. The Habits of Connected Families 
  13. Being in the physical presence of another human being is healing. Bonding with family and friends will increase one’s pain tolerance and even increase life expectancy. See The Village Effect book by Susan Pinker.
  14. Examples of bonding activities that are found in well-connected families: 
    • Presence
    • Talking together
    • Boundaries
    • Touch
    • Music
    • Play
    • Family meals
    • Family exercise
    • Storytelling
    • Empathy
    • Working together
    • Humor
    • Hobbies & Entertainment
    • Family pets
    • Traditions
  15. Quote: “In my experience, every good parent intuitively knows what is good and not good for [their children]. The problem is, we ignore our intuitions and jump on the train loaded with mothers and fathers pushing their [children] to outshine the others. Get off of that train.” – Meg Meeker, MD, Boys Should Be Boys: 7 Secrets to Raising Healthy Sons, p. 20.

Additional Stats & Research

Brain Research

The brain is not fully developed until around age 25. (NCBI)

Activities you do as a child changes your brain. (Zero to Three)

The brain will prune pathways that are not being used. (Heathline) (YouTube—Neuronal Pruning)

Four critical factors for healthy development and learning are movement, touch, human connection, and nature (Rowan C 2010, Insel R 2001, Korkman M 2001)

The past decade has seen an unprecedented rise in numbers of referrals to occupational therapists for children with disorders such as printing and reading delays, attention and learning difficulties, and significant behavior problems, which has placed the occupational therapist under considerable workload management stress (Davidson & Bressler, 2010)

American Physiotherapy Association reports two-thirds of over 400 members surveyed report they’ve seen an increase in early motor delays in infants over the past six years (Jennings J 2005).

Infants with low tone, toddlers failing to reach motor milestones, and children who are unable to pay attention or achieve basic foundation skills for literacy, are frequent visitors to pediatric physiotherapy and occupational therapy clinics. Infant flat head has increased 600% in the past 5 years (Jennings J 2005).

For healthy growth and development, caregivers should minimize the time infants (aged less than 1 year), toddlers (aged 1–2 years) and preschoolers (aged 3–4 years) spend being sedentary during waking hours. (PaticipAction & CSEP 2014)

A team of researchers from the Division of Growth and Development, Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University and King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand found that infants exposed to adult TV programs since 6 months of age had higher pervasive developmental problems, oppositional defiant scores, emotional reactive problems, aggression, and externalizing behaviors (Chonchaiya 2015).

A comparative study of two different types of neonatal infant care: the use of a ‘kangaroo care’ where the infant was carried in a pouch-type device at all times by the caregiver optimizing skin-to-skin contact, and the use of traditional incubators concluded that kangaroo care had a significant positive impact on the infant’s perceptual-cognitive and motor development and on the parenting process, and speculated that kangaroo care has both a direct impact on infant development by contributing to neurophysiological organization and an indirect effect by improving parental mood, perceptions, and interactive behavior (Feldman, R 2002).

Toddlers (aged 1–2 years) and preschoolers (aged 3–4 years) should accumulate at least 180 minutes of physical activity at any intensity spread throughout the day. (PaticipAction & CSEP 2014)

Experts have warned that parents who allow babies and toddlers to access tablet computers for several hours a day are in danger of causing “dangerous” long-term effects. Children as young as four are becoming so addicted to smartphones and iPads that they require psychological treatment (Ward V, 2013).

Study shows toddler tantrum intensity associated with problematic media use. Participants included 269 toddlers (2–3 years old) and their parents, who completed several observational tasks and questionnaires. Analyses revealed that higher levels of media emotion regulation was associated with more problematic media use and more extreme emotions when media was removed in toddlers. (ScienceDirect)

The well-known Harvard Grant Study, concluded that childhood chores, hard work and meaningful relationships lead to success and happiness in life. Childhood screens should take a backseat to developing those qualities first in your student’s life. (Harvard)

”The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement in 2004 indicating that children 0 to 2 years of age should not be exposed to any form of technology, and elementary-aged children, should be limited to 1 to 2 hours technology per day. Today’s ‘Virtual Child’ is using on average four times the recommended amount of technologies, with grave and long reaching results.” (C Rowan, 2010)

Countries such as China and South Korea are seeing such an increase in technology dependence in young people that public health officials are sounding the alarm. According to Greenfield, 20% of South Korean youth are addicted to technology, making for one of the highest rates in the world. (Social Work Today)

Kids’ Brains

Children use an average of 7.5 hours a day of entertainment technology (television, video games, movies, internet, cell phones, iPods and other devices). This figure does not include any educational based technologies. (Kaiser Foundation Report)

Teens spend 9 hours on screens daily (Washington Post), (WVEA). A child frequently uses 2-3 devices at a time raising actual usage to 11 hours per day (Kaiser Foundation Report).

60% of teens ages 13 to 17 say that spending too much time online is a “major” problem. (PEW)

Over 75% of children have technology in their bedrooms away from parental supervision. (Kaiser)

30% of parents do set rules around technology and of those kids 30% use it less. (Kaiser)

30% of children first play with mobile devices when in diapers (AAP)

75% of 5 year olds can use an iPad but only 10% can tie their shoes. (Daily Mail)

71% of children under the age of two have watched television. (Common Sense Media)

Cartoons

After just 9 min. of viewing fast-paced TV cartoons, studies showed an immediate decrease in cognitive function. (AAP)

Fast Paced cartoons can cause there’s a downside to having deficits in executive function. Watching fast-paced cartoons like SpongeBob, even for just 9 minutes, hinders abstract thinking, short-term memory and impulse control in preschoolers.  “What kids watch matters, it’s not just how much they watch,” he said.  They are compromised in their ability to learn and use self-control immediately after watching such shows. Our brains didn’t evolve to process things that happen at this surreal speed, so it becomes exhausting to kids’ brains,” says Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Hospital. (ABC News)

Children who overuse fast paced technologies such as video games, are ‘pruning’ their brains to not access their frontal lobes, known for executive function and impulse control. (Small 2008, Murray 2006)[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Gray Matter

Multiple studies have shown atrophy in gray matter brain processing areas in internet/gaming addiction (Zhou 2011, Yuan 2011, Weng 2013,and Weng 2012). Areas affected included the important frontal lobe, which governs executive functions, such as planning, planning, prioritizing, organizing, and impulse control. Volume loss was also seen in the striatum, which is involved in reward pathways and the suppression of socially unacceptable impulses. A finding of particular concern was damage to an area known as the insula, which is involved in our capacity to develop empathy and compassion for others and our ability to integrate physical signals with emotion. Aside from the obvious link to violent behavior, these skills dictate the depth and quality of personal relationships.

Research has also demonstrated loss of integrity to the brain’s white matter (Lin 2012, Yuan 2011, Hong 2013 and Weng 2013). “Spotty” white matter translates into loss of communication within the brain, including connections to and from various lobes of the same hemisphere, links between the right and left hemispheres, and paths between higher (cognitive) and lower (emotional and survival) brain centers. White matter also connects networks from the brain to the body and vice versa. Interrupted connections may slow down signals, “short-circuit” them, or cause them to be erratic (“misfire”).

PET scan studies showed that technology use of greater than 5 hours per day was consistent with neurological “pruning” of tracks to the frontal cortex, known for executive functioning and impulse control (Gentile D 2009).

Graphic imaging studies highlight how gray matter, the working tissue of the brain’s cortex, diminishes, likely reflecting the pruning of unused neuronal connections during the teen years (Thompson, 2004).

Hong and colleagues found reduced cortical thickness in internet-addicted teen boys (Hong 2013), and Yuan et al found reduced cortical thickness in the frontal lobe of online gaming addicts correlated with impairment of a cognitive task (Yuan 2013).

Imaging studies have found less efficient information processing and reduced impulse inhibition and increased sensitivity to rewards and insensitivity to loss (Dong & Devito 2013), as well as abnormal spontaneous brain activity associated with poor task performance in youth who have internet addiction (Yuan 2011).

The Effects of Media Violence

Proportion of gun use in TV violence statistically parallels U.S. gun homicide trends. (ScienceDaily)

Media violence has been categorized as a ‘public health risk’ in the US due to extensive research documenting links to aggression in both the toddler and the child populations. (Anderson 2007, Christakis 2007, Huesmann 2007)

A meta-analysis examined 380 studies that involved over 130,000 participants showing media violence causes aggression (Markman, 2010).

The American Academy of Pediatrics in 2016 released a policy statement called Virtual Violence regarding the causal impact of violent media content on consequent aggressive behavior, recommending no violent media exposure for children less than 6 years of age, and no first person online shooter games for ANY child (AAP 2016).

Today’s children experience screen violence on many different platforms, including computers, video games, and touch-screen devices, in addition to longstanding platforms, such as televisions. Increasingly, media researchers and pediatricians refer to children’s “media diets” as a way of conveying the amount and type of media that is consumed. Like food diets, media diets can be healthy or unhealthy, balanced or imbalanced, or healthy in quality but unhealthy in quantity. (AAP)

Tyrone Spellman, 27, played long hours on his Xbox, so when his 17-month-old daughter pulled on some cords and tipped the Xbox to the ground, breaking it, he become completely enraged.  He struck her with such force that it “cracked her skull several times.”  The autopsy too, revealed a broken arm that was at least two weeks old which social workers had failed to identify previously (CBS News, 2008).

Cartoon Violence

Studies regarding the effects of violent video games on children found even violent cartoons increased aggression in 9-12 year old children.  Violence is defined as doing intentional harm to another, not how graphic or gory the game is.  Increased exposure to violent videogames results in more pro-violent attitudes, hostile personalities, less forgiveness, belief that violence is typical, and causes children to behave more aggressively in their everyday life (Anderson C 2007).

Young children are most vulnerable to media violence as they are more impressionable, can’t distinguish between fantasy and reality, cannot discern motives for violence, and learn by observing and imitating (Buchanan A 2002).

Video Game Violence

American Physician, Pediatrician, Psychiatrist and Psychologist Associations in 2001 declared media violence a Public Health Risk, stating violence is the leading cause of death in children (Committee on Public Education – Media Violence 2001).

Exposure to violent online games was associated with being a perpetrator as well as a perpetrator-and-victim of cyberbullying (Lam et.al., 2013).

A study on prosocial, neutral and violent video game usage in college students indicated that prosocial games reduced state hostility and increased positive state affect. Violent video games had the opposite effects. These effects were moderated by trait physical aggression (Saleem et.al., 2012).

A longitudinal study of the association between violent video game play and aggressive behavior in adolescents has reported that sustained violent video game play was significantly related to steeper increases in adolescents’ trajectory of aggressive behavior over time. Moreover, greater violent video game play predicted higher levels of aggression over time, after controlling for previous levels of aggression, supporting the socialization hypothesis (Willoughby et al., 2012).

Through intensive video game play, elements from the game world can trigger thoughts and imagery outside the game world, influencing the perception and interpretation of stimuli in everyday life (Poels 2015).

Game Transfer Phenomena, where the player transfers visual and auditory imagery and behaviors from the virtual to the real, is reported to affect 30-40% of gamers (Ortiz de Gortari, Aronsson, & Griffiths, 2011, Ortiz de Gortari & Griffiths, 2014), putting into question possible associations to the current rise in mass killings.

3-D gaming increases anger because the players felt more immersed in the violence when they played violent games. As the technology in video games improves, it has the ability to have stronger effects on players (Grabmeier 2015).

Media exposure is now often active, meaning the user is more immersed and more participatory in the gaming experience (Dunckley 2015).

Six hundred and seven 8th- and 9th-grade students from four schools participated in a study examining the effects of violent video game habits on adolescent hostility, aggressive behaviors, and school performance. Adolescents who expose themselves to greater amounts of video game violence were more hostile, reported getting into arguments with teachers more frequently, were more likely to be involved in physical fights, and performed more poorly in school (Gentile et.al., 2004).

The evidence strongly suggests that exposure to violent video games is a causal risk factor for increased aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, and aggressive affect and for decreased empathy and prosocial behaviour (Moore, 2010)

In the short term, media violence can increase aggression by priming aggressive thoughts and decision processes increasing physiological arousal, and triggering a tendency to imitate observed behaviors. In the long-term, repeated exposure can produce lasting increases in aggressive thought patterns and aggression-supporting beliefs about social behaviors, and can reduce individuals normal negative emotional responses to violence (Anderson C 2003).

Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman is the nation’s kill specialist, a retired West Point psychology professor and author of many books including: On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill: A Call to Action Against TV, Movie and Video Game Violence, The Assassination Generation, and more. He explains why we are drawn to watch violence. “Survival in nature has always depended on the human brain adapting quickly to changes in the environment, and violence is the ultimate survival data… If there is violence in their environment [like a schoolyard fight or media violence], children are driven to witness it so they can adapt to it as quickly as possible.”

“There is a biological impact of violent video games on developing human brains,” Grossman says. “Social learning, role models, and our powerful innate need to search for survival data all combine to make violent video games attractive, addictive, and extraordinarily powerful tools to train our children to become violent human beings.”

Source: Are Video Games Making Our Kids More Violent? and Assassination Generation: Video Games, Aggression, and the Psychology of Killing, pg. 60

See also: Chronology of Findings, Statements, and Actions on Media Violence (excerpt from Assassination Generation by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman)

Building Healthy Brains

“Children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information. In other words, it’s not just what we write that matters — but how.” (NY Times)

According to a study conducted by the University of Washington, learning to print, write in cursive, and type on a keyboard all contribute to brain development in students. But instruction in cursive writing in particular seems to produce the greatest neurological effects.

The key difference is that cursive writing stimulates brain synapses and the synchronicity between both sides of the brain, unlike printing or typing. William Klemm, senior professor of neuroscience at Texas A&M University, states, “Handwriting (cursive writing) dynamically engages widespread areas of both cerebral hemispheres.” He references brain scans taken during handwriting that show activation of extensive regions of the brain involved in thinking, language, and working memory.

Handwriting expert Jeanette Farmer provides a strong argument for setting aside time for cursive instruction. “Handwriting has a physiological/psychological link in the brain,” she states. “This link is so strong that nothing else done in the classroom can begin to compare with the powerful impact that repetitively manipulating the thumb and fingers over time has on the young brain.” (We Are Teachers)

Teachers spend an average 14 minutes per day teaching handwriting, far less than the 45 minutes per day spent in the 60’s and 70’s, and slightly less than the 15 minutes per day mandated in the 80’s. A US study by Steven Graham reports that 90% of US primary school teachers’ college education did not adequately prepare them to provide lessons in penmanship, and therefore do not devote much time to teaching printing. Textbooks offer less information on teaching printing, and universities have less instruction. Handwriting teaching methods and methods for student evaluation are inconsistent and non-standardized. 100% of the 169 primary teachers who participated in this study reported they thought printing should be taught as a separate subject (Graham S 2008).

Another study by Graham documents that in 1996 70% of teachers indicated that handwriting was “not as good as it should be”, and expressed concern regarding the “downward plunge in the standards of handwriting legibility required of elementary school children”. Authors also state that students who have difficulty with automaticity of writing, thus achieving poor quality and quantity of written output, results in avoidance and minimization of the writing process. Authors state that for beginning writers, both visual and verbal modeling appears to be the most effective means of introducing a letter prior to practice i.e. the teacher demonstrates how a letter is made while describing how it is formed (Graham S et al 1993). Graham goes on to report in 2000 study how poor ability to produce quality and quantity of written output can result in a long term disability in written expression (Graham S et al 2000).

In Steven Graham’s 2006 book Handbook of Handwriting Research, this meta-analysis concludes that printing strategy instruction is effective in improving student’s writing performance in the areas of quality, elements, length, and revisions, with results maintained over time and generalized to new tasks and situations.

Steven Graham’s 2007 book Best Practices in Handwriting Instruction draws the correlation between poor printing and subsequent difficulty with spelling, sentence composition, math, science and any subject requiring printing skill. Graham states “Failure to develop legible and automatic letter and word formation interferes with content in writing.” and “Because of the excessive labor and unattractive results involved in such writing, students are more likely to avoid or minimize the process when possible”. Graham instructs that for beginners, both visual and verbal modeling is the most effective means of introducing a letter prior to practice.

Brain scans show that more of the areas of the brain associated with memory formation are activated when writing than when typing (Darling, 2014).

Exercise

An Australian cross sectional study was conducted in order to look at the trend in children’s after school activities. Out of 2,940 reports of children’s activities, 25% involved physical activity, including organized sports and free play. 51% of activities were sedentary in nature. Among sedentary activities, television and screen time were the most commonly reported. 81% of activities were indoor activities. Outdoor activities were more likely to be active than indoor activities (69% vs. 14%). (Engelen et. Al., 2014).

Research published in the journal Pediatrics found that kids who engaged in a regular physical activity program had improved cognitive performance and brain function. (Mercola October 2014)

Child access to ‘green space’ for 20 minutes a day significantly reduces ADHD and 20 minutes of cardio exercise per day significantly increases attention. (Kuo 2004, Ratey 2008)

A boy who spent an entire day kneeling down playing computer games needed hospital treatment for a blood clot in his leg (BBC News, 2004).

Movement Deprivation

These environmental changes are faster than human being’s ability to adapt and evolve.  Children who immerse themselves in virtual reality may exhibit signs of sensory deprivation, as they become disconnected from the world of physical play and meaningful interactions (Tannock M 2008).

Scottish study reports toddlers aged 3 years engaged in only 20 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity, which correlated with a decline in total energy expenditure and sedentary behavior.  Study identifies TV, video games, strollers as “culprits” (Reilly J 2004).

Delayed vestibular maturation correlates significantly with sensory integrative dysfunctions, slow vision processing, impaired hearing, and reading disability (Solan H 2007).

Free Play

Developing children require 2-3 hours per day of active rough and tumble play to achieve adequate stimulation to the vestibular, proprioceptive, tactile and attachment systems (National Association for Sport and Physical Education 2002). This type of sensory input ensures normal development of posture, bilateral coordination and optimal arousal states necessary for attainment of printing and reading literacy (Schaff R 2007, Braswell J 2006, Rine R, 2004).

On cognitive testing, adult musicians and musically trained children showed enhanced performance on several aspects of executive functioning. On fMRI, the children with musical training showed enhanced activation of specific areas of the prefrontal cortex during a test that made them switch between mental tasks. These areas, the supplementary motor area, the pre-supplementary area and the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, are known to be linked to executive function. (ScienceDaily)

Ted-Ed: “How Playing an Instrument Benefits Your Brain

Overuse of TV and video games may result in children lacking essential connection with themselves, others and nature. Child now fear nature, limiting outdoor play which is essential for achieving sensory and motor development (Louv R 2005).

Prison inmates spend more time outside than the average child. (Fee)

Many of today’s parents perceive outdoor play is ‘unsafe’, even though most crimes against children are instigated by family members, limiting essential developmental components usually attained in outdoor rough and tumble play. (Burdette H 2005)

The health effects of “forest bathing”, or taking walks in the woods, are measured in several recent studies. Subjects in a study by Qing Li and his colleagues take a walk in a forest park in Saitama prefecture, north of Tokyo, Japan, in September 2010. The sample size is small, but the results indicate that time spent in forests may have such salutary effects as lowered blood pressure and noradrenaline levels (Philips, 2001).

There is a positive correlation between physical activity and seven categories of cognitive performance: perceptual skills, intelligence quotient, achievement, verbal tests, math tests, developmental level, and academic readiness.  Studies show that a reduction of 240 minutes per week of academic class time, replaced with increased time for PE, led to higher math scores.  Adding PE time alone does not improve grades, it is vigorous exercise that improves cognition e.g. climbing walls, exercise bikes, tread mills, dancing (Ratey J 2008).

Reading for pleasure at 15 is a top predictor for academic & life success. (Renaissance)

Patricia Greenfield, distinguished professor of psychology at UCLA, analyzed more than 50 studies on learning and points out that reading for pleasure among young people has decreased in recent decades, which is problematic because “studies show that reading develops imagination, induction, reflection and critical thinking, as well as vocabulary…in a way that visual media such as video games and television do not.” (TIME)

Between kindergarten and twelfth grade students with an average daily reading time of 30+ minutes are projected to encounter 13.7 million words. At graduation, their peers who averaged less than 15 minutes of reading per day are likely to be exposed to only 1.5 million words. The difference is more than 12 million words. (Renaissance)

See also: Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain by Maryanne Wolf

Comparative study of digital (screen) reading vs. print reading reports the following problems with screen reading:

  • Attention:  clicking and scrolling disrupt attention and disturb mental appreciation
  • Comprehension:  reader lacks both completeness and constituent parts
  • Memory:  change in physical surroundings has a negative effect on memory
  • Learning:  doesn’t allow required time and mental exertion
  • Meaning:  isn’t a physical dimension, loss of totality

Illiteracy

Literacy is defined as competency in handwriting, reading, math and communication skill. A foundation in spoken language competence in the early years, is important for the successful achievement of literacy, academic and social competence. Printing is a precursor to reading and speech fluency, and poor handwriting skill is related to language disorders. Motor planning required for automatic letter production when printing “maps” the sensorimotor cortex for eventual visual letter recognition for reading, and word finding for oral sentence production (Shanahan T 2007, Goldberg E 1999, Tomblin B 2006).

In the U.S., more than eight million students in grades 4-12 read below grade level, and while they can decode, they cannot comprehend what they read.  Between 1971 and 2004, the reading level of America’s 17 year olds showed no improvement at all.  40% of high school graduates lack the literacy skills employers seek.  Early exposure to print is largest predictor of reading ability (National Center for Education Statistics 2005).

Children who cannot print are illiterate. Teacher misperception that the computer will replace the need to print, is unfounded and shortsighted.  Slow printing speed resulting from inadequate teaching of letter and number formation, impacts on every subject and is the leading cause of illiteracy (Rowan C 2010).

Imagination and Daydreaming

The Psychology of How Mind-Wandering and “Positive Constructive Daydreaming” Boost Our Creativity and Social Skills (Brain Pickings).

Scott Barry Kaufman, NYU psychology professor and author of Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined wrote that mind-wandering can offer significant personal rewards: “These rewards include self- awareness, creative incubation, improvisation and evaluation, memory consolidation, autobiographical planning, goal driven thought, future planning, retrieval of deeply personal memories, reflective consideration of the meaning of events and experiences, simulating the perspective of another person, evaluating the implications of self and others’ emotional reactions, moral reasoning, and reflective compassion… From this personal perspective, it is much easier to understand why people are drawn to mind wandering and willing to invest nearly 50 percent of their waking hours engaged in it.” (HuffPost)

“We all – adults and children, writers and readers – have an obligation to daydream. We have an obligation to imagine. It is easy to pretend that nobody can change anything, that we are in a world in which society is huge and the individual is less than nothing: an atom in a wall, a grain of rice in a rice field. But the truth is, individuals change their world over and over, individuals make the future, and they do it by imagining that things can be different.” (Neil Gaiman)

Extracurricular Activities

“There are countless research studies showing that kids who are more involved in extracurriculars fair better on just about every conceivable metric— they earn better grades, have higher self-esteem, are less likely to get in trouble and so forth…[t]hese longer-term studies come to the same conclusion: more participation in activities predicts better outcomes.” (Duckworth 2016)

One study found that: youths who participated in organized activities for 2 years demonstrated more favorable educational and civic outcomes in young adulthood than those who participated for 1 year. More intensive participation was also associated with greater educational, civic, and occupational success in young adulthood particularly among youths who participated in activities for 2 years…[o]f note, analyses revealed that both temporal measures of participation were positively associated with young adult outcomes as many as 8 years after high school. (NCBI)

Physical Health

The number of overweight or obese infants/young children aged 0-5 increased from 32 million globally in 1990, to 42 million in 2013 (WHO, 2014).

Early childhood screen overuse can cause irreversible lifelong problems including obesity due to the sedentary nature of screen activities. New research found that obese children had a thinner pre-frontal cortex than normal weight children. The thinner cortex could be a factor in the decreased executive function earlier studies observed among children with higher BMI. The new study confirmed that the obese subjects in the study had poorer working memory compared with normal weight children. (NCBI)

Sedentary lifestyle is resulting in one in three children with developmental delay, and one in six children with obesity at school entry. (Kershaw P 2009)

Professor Andrew Prentice told the British Association’s science festival in Leicester that due to the secondary effects of obesity on child cardiovascular systems and potential for diabetes, the 21st century generation may be the first generation to not outlive their parents (BBC News, 2002).

There is a large body of evidence from all study designs which suggests that decreasing any type of sedentary time is associated with lower health risk in youth aged 5-17 years. In particular, the evidence suggests that daily TV viewing in excess of 2 hours is associated with reduced physical and psychosocial health, and that lowering sedentary time leads to reductions in BMI (Tremblay et al., 2011).

TV and video game use accounts for 60% of childhood obesity, and is now considered a North American ‘epidemic’ (Tremblay M 2005, Strauss R 2001).

Health care providers are finding more and more children with type 2 diabetes, a disease usually diagnosed in adults aged 40 years or older (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010).

Health study intervention lowered obesity rate in youth at high diabetes risk.  Interventions included healthier food choices, longer, more intense periods of physical activity, and participation in activities that promoted long-term healthy behaviors (National Institute of Health, 2010).

Climbing obesity rates in European countries have lead a team of child health experts to recommend placing obese children in foster care, citing that parents of obese children are negligent in some way as to have indicated that the parents have caused their child’s obesity. By neglecting to identify child technology overuse as a causal link to obesity, these experts are subjecting whole families to what might be an unnecessary and uncalled for traumatic and catastrophic event (Vilner R, 2010).

One in four adults wake up at least once during the night to check their smartphones. One in three teens do the same. (Common Sense Media)

Biological sleep patterns shift toward later times for both sleeping and waking during adolescence — meaning it is natural to not be able to fall asleep before 11:00 pm.

Teens need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night to function best. Most teens do not get enough sleep — one study found that only 15% reported sleeping 8 1/2 hours on school nights.

Teens tend to have irregular sleep patterns across the week — they typically stay up late and sleep in late on the weekends, which can affect their biological clocks and hurt the quality of their sleep.

Despite concerns about screen media potentially disrupting sleep, many children watch TV or videos, play games, or use screen media for other purposes in the hour before bedtime. (Common Sense Media)

For teens, not getting enough sleep or having sleep difficulties can: 

  • Limit their ability to learn, listen, concentrate and solve problems. They may even forget important information like names, numbers, homework or a date with a special person.
  • Lead to aggressive or inappropriate behavior such as yelling at friends or being impatient with teachers or family members
  • Cause them to eat too much or eat unhealthy foods like sweets and fried foods that lead to weight gain
  • Contribute to illness, not using equipment safely or driving drowsy

Source: The Sleep Foundation

 “The evening when children should be finishing homework or reading a book or cuddling with their parents is now used for screen time or gaming. They are given a reward for finishing the day. It takes away from ideal sleep.” —Dr. Kenneth Weeks

Myopia

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (2014), 42% of the U.S. population has myopia. 

Myopia is associated with potentially blinding complications such as glaucoma, retinal detachment, and myopic macular degeneration.

Eye experts attribute the alarming rise of myopia or nearsightedness to the overuse of handheld devices (Yang, 2013).

Dr. Liu, head of the new Myopia Control Clinic at UC Berkeley’s School of Optometry states children are particularly vulnerable to developing myopia because of their high tablet usage as their eyes are still developing and may begin to interpret nearsightedness as a normal state (Liu, 2013).

Research shows increasing time spent outdoors may be a simple strategy by which to reduce the risk of developing myopia and its progression in children and adolescents. Myopia is irreversible (Sherwin et al., 2012).

Communication

There’s a 49% increase risk of expressive speech delay for every 30 min of screen time. (Science Daily)

One in five toddlers have speech and language delays associated with overexposure to television, and Dr. Sally Ward recommends improving quality and quantity of communication with parents to optimize speech and language acquisition (Ward S 2004).

Dimitri Christakis, pediatric researcher at Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle, reports that children learn language skills largely from verbal interactions with their parents. In his recent 2009 study where he used digital recorders on both parents and children in their homes, Dr. Christakis found that adults typically utter approximately 941 words per hour, yet these adult words are almost completely eliminated when television is audible to the child. Dr. Christakis found that each hour of audible television was associated with significant reductions in child vocalizations, vocalization duration, and conversational turns. On average, each additional hour of television exposure was also associated with a decrease of 770 words the child heard from an adult during the recording session. Since 30 percent of American households now report having the television always on, even when no one is watching, researchers report these findings have grave implications for language acquisition and therefore perhaps even early brain development (Christakis, 2009).

Researchers found that the heart’s capacity for friendship obeys the biological law “use it or lose it”, and when humans don’t engage in face to face interaction, they actually lose the biological ability to do so (Frederickson, 2013).

A study on the effect of background television on the quantity and quality of parental speech directed at toddlers has found that background TV reduced words per minute, utterances per minute, and number of new words (Pempek et.al., 2014).

Parent Attachment

In a study conducted on the Use of Therapeutic Robot Companions as Social Agents for Reducing Pain and Anxiety in Pediatric Patients, Dr. Okita reports that when a child and parent were together during robot therapy sessions, the patients’ pain ratings decreased significantly. There were no differences in the pain ratings when the child interacted with the robot animal without the parent present (Okita, 2013.)

A recent study revealed that 20% of parents did not know how to “play” with their children, and one third of parents found play “boring” (Guardian News, 2010).

Parent time spent connected to various forms of technologies is disconnecting them from forming healthy, primary attachments with their children. This parent-child “disconnection” is a major contributing factor to the reported increased incidence of mental diagnoses (Flores P 2004).

Too many parents are distracted by mobile devices when they should be watching their kids, causing a recent rise in injuries of 12% between 2007 and 2010, after falling for much of the prior decade, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Worthen, 2012).

40 out of 55 parents were observed to use their cell phones during a restaurant meal, and highly absorbed parents responded more harshly to child behavior (Radesky 2014).

95% of children report they would rather go outside and play than use technology (participACTION 2013).

Parents who stay in touch with their university aged children using social networking (texts, email, Facebook), have children who are more anxious, lonely and who indicate loneliness, anxious attachment, as well as conflict within the parental relationship, than children who’s parents stay in touch by phone (Gentzler, 2010).

Dr. Montagu reports that when children lack touch and human connection, they may respond by ‘turning in’ (anxiety, depression) or ‘turning out’ (aggression) (Montagu A 1972).

Mental Health

Dr. Larry Rosen, American professor of psychology reports that our obsession with technology is causing an epidemic of psychological disorders, with social networking related to narcissism, and texting to obsessive compulsive disorder and ADHD (Naish, 2013).

Research shows that with increased technology use, including discussion forums & social media, at the consequence of face-to-face, human interaction, we lose empathy and our humanity (CLBB & Boston Society for Neurology and Psychiatry, 2013).

Anxiety & Depression

Teens who visit social-networking sites every day but see their friends in person less frequently are the most likely to agree with the statements “A lot of times I feel lonely,” “I often feel left out of things,” and “I often wish I had more good friends.” Teens’ feelings of loneliness spiked in 2013 and have remained high since.

Forty-eight percent more girls said they often felt left out in 2015 than in 2010, compared with 27 percent more boys. Girls use social media more often, giving them additional opportunities to feel excluded and lonely when they see their friends or classmates getting together without them.

The more time teens spend looking at screens, the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression. Eighth-graders who are heavy users of social media increase their risk of depression by 27 percent.

Teens who spend three hours a day or more on electronic devices are 35 percent more likely to have a risk factor for suicide, such as making a suicide plan.

Since 2007, the homicide rate among teens has declined, but the suicide rate has increased. As teens have started spending less time together, they have become less likely to kill one another, and more likely to kill themselves. In 2011, for the first time in 24 years, the teen suicide rate was higher than the teen homicide rate.

Source: The Atlantic. Condensed from Dr. Jean Twenge’s research.

Teens who spend five or more hours per day on their devices are considered heavy users. These heavy users are 71% more likely to have one risk factor for suicide. (NPR)

Heavy screen users are 48% to 171% more likely to be unhappy, to be in low in well-being, or to have suicide risk factors such as depression, suicidal ideation, or past suicide attempts. Heavy users were twice as likely to report having attempted suicide. (NCBI)

ADD/ADHD

Every hour of technology use per day is associated with a 10% increased risk of attention problems. (CDK)

ADHD should be re-termed “attention inconsistency”, as these children have episodic attention ability.  Attention Restorative Theory has three tenants: 1) attention ability is subject to fatigue and restoration 2) voluntary and interesting tasks are less fatiguing than involuntary and uninteresting tasks 3) attention ability is subject to environment modifications (Kaplan S 1995).

The rise of A.D.H.D. diagnoses and prescriptions for stimulants over the years coincided with a remarkably successful two-decade campaign by pharmaceutical companies to publicize the syndrome and promote the pills to doctors, educators and parents. With the children’s market booming, the industry is now employing similar marketing techniques as it focuses on adult A.D.H.D., which could become even more profitable (Schwarz, 2013).

ADD/ADHD has become an epidemic in the last 30 years. Now one in seven boys has received this diagnosis by the time he reaches the age of 18, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Peper 2014)

50% of children on ADHD stimulant medication get depressed and are prescribed antidepressants, and 50% develop obsessive compulsive disorder, which looks like a manic phase of bipolar disorder and are often prescribed lithium. (Breggin P 2008)

Study investigating sensory over-responsivity in children with ADHD shows substantiated links between sensory over-responsivity and anxiety, in both typical and ADHD children. Results suggest that ADHD should be considered in conjunction with anxiety and sensory responsivity; both may be related to bottom-up processing differences, and deficits in prefrontal cortex/hippocampal synaptic gating (Lane, S 2010).

Inattention was greater in ADHD than SMD, while SMD had more sensory issues, somatic complaints, anxiety/depression, and difficulty adapting than ADHD, as well as greater physiological/electrodermal reactivity to sensory stimuli than ADHD. Evidence suggests ADHD and SMD are distinct diagnoses (Miller LJ 2012).

Exposure to “green space” results in a significant reduction in ADHD, in both areas of impulse control and attention ability.  Nature not only has attention restorative benefits, but also activates all the senses to enhance multi-sensory learning ability (Faber-Taylor A 2001, Kuo F 2004).

Studies have shown that access to “green space” for 20 minutes per day significantly reduced ADHD symptoms, yet drug use continues to climb.  Inner city children suffer from ADHD at three times the rate of children in rural areas (Kuo F 2004).

Sensory Overstimulation

Sensory Processing Disorder affects 1 in 20 children (SPDF Foundation)

The ability of a child to adapt to sensory responses in their environments emerges early in life as a protective and discriminative mechanism, and as children grow they typically become better at tolerating uncomfortable sensory stimuli by applying strategies to self regulate. Sensory over-responsivity reflects a failure to achieve a balance between sensitization and habituation, and can affect many aspects of a child’s life in both home and school settings. A study long term study looked at infants with sensory over-responsivity when they entered the school system and found that early sensory sensitivities were associated with sensory over-reactivity status at school-age (Ben-Sasson, 2010). Technology overuse may result in sensory over-reactivity (Rowan, 2010).

Children with photosensitivity have increased risk of epilepsy when using video games or other high speed visual technologies (Singh R 2004 and Kasteleijn-Nolst Trenite DG 2002).

15% of elementary-aged children are now taking some form of psychotropic medication, such as stimulants, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety and anti-psychotics despite mounting research indicating psychotropic medication is not effective, in many cases proven harmful and in some cases is actually fatal. (Zito J, et.al, Raine ADHD Study)

A French study used to explore the association between Internet addiction symptoms, body image esteem, body image avoidance, and disordered eating found that body image avoidance was associated with Internet addiction symptoms among both genders. Controlling for body–mass index, Internet addiction symptoms, and body image avoidance were both significant predictors of disordered eating among women. These findings support the self-presentational theory of Internet addiction and suggest that body image avoidance is an important factor (Rodgers et.al, 2013).

Facebook usage by teen girls was significantly correlated with weight dissatisfaction, drive for thinness, thin ideal internalization, and self-objectification (Meier, 2013).

Problematic Screens

Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD)

The DSM-5 suggests that IGD may be identified by five or more of the following criteria within a 12-month period. These criteria include:

  1. Preoccupation with games: The individual thinks about previous gaming activity or anticipates playing the next game; gaming becomes the dominant activity in daily life.
  2. Withdrawal symptoms when gaming is taken away: These symptoms are typically described as irritability, anxiety, or sadness.
  3. Tolerance: The need to spend increasing amounts of time engaged in games.
  4. Unsuccessful attempts to control or reduce participation in games.
  5. Loss of interest in real-life relationships, previous hobbies, and other entertainment as a result of, and with the exception of, games.
  6. Continued excessive use of games despite knowledge of psychosocial problems.
  7. Has deceived family members, therapists, or others regarding the amount of gaming.
  8. Use of games to escape or relieve a negative mood (eg, feelings of helplessness, guilt, or anxiety).
  9. Has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

Compared with healthy subjects, Online Gaming Addicts (OGA) individuals showed significant gray matter atrophy in the right orbitofrontal cortex, bilateral insula, and right supplementary motor area. According to tract-based spatial statistics analysis, OGA subjects had significantly reduced FA in the right genu of corpus callosum, bilateral frontal lobe white matter, and right external capsule (Weng et al., 2013).

Persuasive Design

Persuasive design of technology includes built-in elements to keep students hooked on certain entertainment technologies which become hard to resist during class time. One of these elements is the lack of stoppage cues, the natural stopping point for non-addictive screens. (Medium)

Video Game Stats

In 2018, the World Health Organization listed Internet Gaming Disorder as an official diagnosis.

8.5% of gamers (ages 8 to 18) are clinically addicted to playing video games. (Washington Post)

Gamers can be risky, unsafe drivers. (NHPR)

Forty-one percent of people who play online video games admitted that they played computer games as an escape from the real world. (Hussain)

People who have higher levels of trait anxiety, aggressive behavior, and neuroticism are at a higher risk for video game addiction. (Mehroof)

The same regions of the brain that are activated when craving occur in alcohol and drug addicts are also activated in video game addicts when they see images of computer games. (Ko)

In a study examining the amount of time spent playing video games and indicators of positive and negative psychosocial adjustment. Lower playing time was associated with higher life satisfaction and prosocial behavior and lower externalizing and internalizing problems, whereas the opposite was found for high levels of play (Przybylski, 2014).

People who spend more time playing video games have more attention problems, and individuals who are more impulsive or have more attention problems subsequently spend more time playing video games (Swing et al, 2010).

12% of boys and 8% of girl video game players exhibit pathological patterns of play, and fit the DSM IV category of addiction.  Study also showed that pathological gamers are twice as likely to have ADD or ADHD (Gentile D 2009).

Research on video games have shown dopamine (implicated in reward processing and addiction) is released during gaming (Koepp 1998 and Kuhn 2011) and that craving or urges for gaming produces brain changes that are similar to drug cravings (Ko 2009, Han 2011). Other findings in internet addiction include reduced numbers of dopamine receptors and transporters (Kim 2011 and Hou 2012).

A Harris Interactive Poll in the US release in April 2007 found that 8.5% of youth gamers could be classified as “pathological” or “clinically addicted” to playing video games.  A British survey of gamers indicated 12% reported being “addicted”. 2.4 % of South Korea from ages 9 – 39 have video game addiction according to a government funded survey.  Another 10.2% were found to be borderline cases at risk of addiction.  Addiction was defined as an obsession with playing electronic games to the point of sleep deprivation, disruption of daily life and a loosening grip on reality, depression and with drawl when not playing.  10 South Koreans died in 2005 from disruption in blood circulation caused by prolonged use.  S. Korea has government funded counseling and clinics for gamers. Most addictive video games are the MMORPG’s massively multiplayer online role playing games (Washington Post 2006).

Children who were more impulsive and less comfortable with other children spent more time playing video games, the study found. Two years later, these heavy gamers, who played an average of 31 hours a week, compared with 19 hours a week for other students, were more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and social phobias (Rabin, 2011).

Smartphone Stats

95 percent of teens have access to a smartphone. (Pew Research Center)

The risk of smartphone addiction is highest in young people, especially females. (NCBI)

One in four youth is dealing with problematic smartphone usage. (BMC Psychiatry)

“…from a behavioral standpoint, children who use smartphones today are more isolated, less likely to play outside, more prone to anxiety, and less happy than their cohorts of even a decade ago.” (Social Work Today)

What Do Teens Think?

There is slightly less consensus among teens who say social media has had a mostly negative effect on people their age.

The top response (mentioned by 27% of these teens) is that social media has led to more bullying and the overall spread of rumors.

17% of these respondents feel [social media] platforms harm relationships and result in less meaningful human interactions.

Similar shares think social media distorts reality and gives teens an unrealistic view of other people’s lives (15%), or that teens spend too much time on social media (14%).

Source: The Pew Research Center

Texting and Driving

More than one in five teen drivers involved in a car accident were distracted due to smartphone use. (Carsurance)

15.6% of young drivers (ages 18-24) have admitted to texting while driving and 20% of them claim to be “not familiar at all” with their state’s texting while driving laws. This is compared with 12.2% who also reported as being “not at all familiar” with state laws. (The Zebra)

14% of fatal crashes involved the use of cell phones. (The Zebra)

14% of distracted driving deaths in driving accidents were attributed specifically to cell phone use, as opposed to other forms of distracted driving. (The Zebra)

In 2016, almost four thousand people were killed due to the actions of a distracted driver. (The Zebra)

4,637 people died in car crashes in 2018 due to cell phone use and electronic device use. (The Zebra)

3,255 = number of teen (15 to 19) drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2017. (NHTSA)

Research has found that dialing a phone number while driving increases your teen’s risk of crashing by six times, and texting while driving increases the risk by 23 times. (NHTSA)

Time spent using social media was associated with a larger number of online social network “friends.” However, time spent using social media was not associated with larger offline networks, or feeling emotionally closer to offline network members (Pollet T 2011).

A study on the effect of Facebook on negative interpersonal relationship outcomes indicate that a high level of Facebook usage is associated with negative relationship outcomes, and that these relationships are indeed mediated by Facebook-related conflict (Clayton, 2013).

A new University of Michigan study on college aged adults finds that the more they used Facebook, the worse they felt (Hu, 2013).

Cyberbullying

Survey of 3,767 grade 6, 7, 8 students who attended six schools in the US found 11% had been electronically bullied and 4% indicated they had bullied a victim in the past month.  Half of the electronic bully victims reported not knowing the perpetrator’s identity (Kowalski R 2007).

Internet bullying is correlated with school behavior problems, and media literacy programs may mitigate the negative effects of electronic media on youth (Worthen M 2007).

A study examined perceptions and experiences of cyberbullying in a series of 18 focus groups conducted with young people aged 9–19 in the UK. The results suggest that cyberbullying is perceived to be problematic and serious but relatively routine part of young people’s online lives and interactions (Bryce, 2013).

Cyberbullies demonstrated less empathic responsiveness than non-cyberbullies, and were also more afraid of becoming victims of cyberbullying. The findings confirm and substantially extend the research on the relationship between empathy and aggressive behavior. From an educational point of view, the present findings suggest that training of empathy skills might be an important tool to decrease cyber bullying (Steffgen G 2011).

Pornography Stats

In 2006, 42.7% of Internet users viewed porn. (Family Safe)

Every 39 minutes a new pornographic video is being produced in the United States. (Deseret News)

First time porn viewing is now as early as 3 years old. (FND)

64% of young people, ages 13–24, actively seek out pornography weekly or more often. (FND)

Porn could have a bigger economic influence on the US than Netflix. (Quartz)

Porn sites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined. (Huffpost)

PornHub, the largest porn website on the internet, had 42 billion visits in 2019, which breaks down to 115 million views a day. (Forbes)

Researchers report 42% of children ages 10-17 actively use pornography, with average age of first exposure 6 years (Wolack et al., 2007).

Dr. Phil Zimbardo, a psychology professor at Stanford University, discussed the demise of guys, stating that boys are flaming out academically and wiping out socially with girls and sexually with women. Of all the activities on the Internet, porn has the most potential to be addictive. Everything in the porn user’s life is boring except porn. As a result of watching porn, boys’ brains are being digitally rewired into a never-ending desire for change, constant arousal, novelty and excitement. This creates real issues when it comes to romantic relationships that grow gradually and subtly (Baumgardner, 2013).

The rate of speed at which erotic images are delivered can alter brain chemistry and rewire the pleasure center of the brain, creating other changes in body and sexual function, including addiction and erectile dysfunction. Because an increasing amount of extreme images are sought (in part because of these brain changes), more violent and humiliating images are needed (Sellers, 2013)

Six-year-old children were acting out sex and drug scenes from Grand Theft Auto reports headteacher (The Telegraph 2014).

Children who use pornography are significantly more likely to report delinquent behavior and substance use in the previous year, as well as depression and lower levels of emotional bonding with their caregiver (Ybarra et al., 2005).

An unfortunate consequence of porn addiction is desensitization and tolerance, requiring increased intensity of stimuli to satiate craving, including prostitution and sexual depravity (children, sexual violence), (Klein 2009).

Universities are hiring rape counsellors and forming rape prevention teams due to an escalation in campus sexual violence (MacLeans 2013).

According to a survey of nearly 1,300 middle school students in Los Angeles, adolescents who sent or received sexually explicit photos or text messages were three to seven times more likely to be sexually active than their peers not involved in sexting (Goodier, 2014).

Studies show 25% of 10 year old children are sexting, 40% of teen girls (girls 2x boys) have posted or sent sexually explicit images and 80% of teens under the age of 18 have sexted. Sexted was defined as sending a nude photo of oneself (Englander, 2012).

Results demonstrate that more frequent viewing of pornography is associated with a higher incidence of hooking up and a higher number of unique hook up partners. (Braithwate et al September 2014)

Research shows at least 90% of kids between the ages of 8 and 16 have watched pornography online at least once. Boys ages 12-17 are actually the largest consumers of online porn and is actually being compared to being the drug of choice for youth (Woda, 2014).

The Brain Seeks Novelty

German researchers recently found that there is an association between the number of hours of pornography someone consumes each week and less grey matter in their brains. Grey matter is the darker tissue of the brain and spinal cord, consisting mainly of nerve cell bodies and branching dendrites. It is associated with decision making and intelligence. (FND)
 
Like other addictive substances and behaviors, porn activates the part of the brain called the reward center, triggering the release of a cocktail of chemicals that give you a temporary buzz.

—Continue with “How Porn Changes The Brain” by FightTheNewDrug

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Porn consumption follows a very predictable pattern that’s eerily similar to drug use. Over time, excessive levels of “pleasure” chemicals cause the porn consumer’s brain to develop tolerance, just like the brain of a drug user. In the same way that a junkie eventually requires more and more of a drug to get a buzz or even feel normal, regular porn consumers will end up turning to porn more often or seeking out more extreme versions—or both—to feel excited again. And once the porn habit is established, quitting can even lead to withdrawal symptoms similar to drugs.

—Continue with “How Porn Affects The Brain Like A Drug” by FightTheNewDrug

82% of online sex crimes against minors started when the perpetrator used the victim’s social networking site to gain information and introduction. (Prescott)

Children can be groomed online in under 45 minutes (Telegraph)

Tech has normalized communication with strangers. (NY Times)

The number of internet child pornography images has increased 1500% since 1988. (Clancy)

624,000+ child porn traders have been discovered online in the U.S. (FND)

In 2019, Cybertipline reports included 69.1 million images, videos and other files related to child sexual exploitation. (NCMEC)

17% of Dutch adolescents surveyed reported real-life encounters with online contacts; one third of these adolescents did not tell their parents about the encounters.  Low self-esteem and certain Internet-related parenting techniques were related to the prevalence of such encounters (Van Den Eijnden et al., 2011).

Damaging effects from sextortion crimes including depression, anxiety, hopelessness, fear, and suicidal thoughts. “The trauma level we see with these kids is significant,” says Catherine Connell, licensed social worker and child/adolescent forensic interviewer and program manager with the FBI. (FBI)

Games and social media platforms connected to predator arrests: Fortnite, Minecraft, Roblox, Instagram, Xbox Live, LiveMe, Omegle, Musical.ly, TikTok, Skype, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, Twitter’s Periscope, Discord, Kik Messenger, Yubo, PlayStation, Clash of Clans, League of Legends, and more. (NY Times)

Screens and Learning

Participants who multitasked on a laptop during a lecture scored lower on a test compared to those who did not multitask, and participants who were in direct view of a multitasking peer scored lower on a test compared to those who were not. The results demonstrate that multitasking on a laptop poses a significant distraction to both users and fellow students and can be detrimental to comprehension of lecture content (Sana, 2013)

Education technology is not evidenced based, yet – whole school districts are moving rapidly toward both virtual teaching.  Referred to as the “$100 curriculum in a box”, TeacherMates, XO’s and iPad are replacing teaching, referencing the teacher as a “moderator” (Fast Company, April 2010).

Schools that ban screens during school show a 6.4% increase in overall test scores (The Guardian)

While almost three quarters of pupils in the countries surveyed used computers at schools, the report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development found technology had caused no noticeable improvement in results. (Health24)

Education psychologist and author of Failure to Connect: How Computers Affect Our Children’s Minds Jane Healy spent years doing research into computer use in schools and, while she expected to find that computers in the classroom would be beneficial, now feels that “time on the computer might interfere with development of everything from the young child’s motor skills to his or her ability to think logically and distinguish between reality and fantasy.” (TIME)

John Vallance, a Cambridge scholar and headmaster of Australia’s top K-through-12 school, Sydney Grammer, has said: “I think when people come to write the history of this period in education…this investment in classroom technology is going to be seen as a huge fraud.”  (TIME)

“Where computers are used in the classroom, their impact on student performance is mixed at best…Students who use computers very frequently at school do a lot worse in most learning outcomes, even after accounting for social background and student demographics.” —OECD’s education director Andreas Schleicher. (Health24)

OECD 2015 report “Students, Computers and Learning: Making The Connection” says that even countries which have invested heavily in information and communication technologies (ICT) for education, have seen no noticeable improvement in their performances in PISA results for reading, mathematics or science (OECD 2015).

In 2012, 96% of 15-year-old students in OECD countries reported having a computer at home, but only 72% reported using one at school. Overall, students who use computers moderately at school tend to have somewhat better learning outcomes than students who use computers rarely. But students who use computers very frequently at school do much worse, even after accounting for social background and student demographics (OECD 2015).

Average final exam scores among students assigned to classrooms that allowed computers were 18 percent of a standard deviation lower than exam scores of students in classrooms that prohibited computers{Payne Carter, Greenberg, Walker, 2016).

Cheating in School

Teens with cell phones send 440 text messages a week and 110 a week while in the classroom. (USA Today)

76% of parents say that cell phone cheating happens at their teens’ schools, but only 3% believe their own teen has ever used a cell phone to cheat. (LA Times)

In a poll conducted by Benenson Strategy Group on “Hi-Tech Cheating” the following statistics were discovered:

  • Nearly two-thirds of students with cell phones use them during school, regardless of school policies against it. 
  • 79% of parents say teens at their child’s school download papers from the Internet to turn in as their own work, but only 7% say their child has done this.
  • 45% of teens say that texting friends about answers during tests is a serious cheating offense, while 20% say it’s not cheating at all.
  • 41% of teens say that storing notes on a cell phone to access during a test is a serious cheating offense, while 23% don’t think it’s cheating at all.
     

Personal (Student Owned) Screen Use in the Classroom

Screen Addiction in the Classroom

Screen addiction is defined as a general inability to limit time spent on entertainment screens (gaming, social media) and continue to play despite negative consequences. Warning signs include attention problems in the classroom, anxiety, falling asleep in class and inability to control impulses.

American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations for educators:

✔ Schools at all levels should routinely include education about IGD (Internet Gaming Disorder) and expand the infrastructure they have in place for other potentially problematic behaviors (drugs, alcohol, risky sex, gambling, etc.) to include problems with electronic media.

✔ Because of the consistent link between IGD and poor school performance, schools may be an excellent place for screening for IGD and for providing referrals for services when problems with IGD or related issues are uncovered.

✔ Many schools provide computers and/or encourage computer use in and out of classes, as this can have tremendous educational and practical benefit. Many schools consider “gamifying” their educational processes. What message does it send if a school supports gaming as education, in light of the real potential for the development of IGD? Schools should provide training to parents and educators to recognize potential problems.

✔ Schools and community centers can be of particular value in helping parents to identify non-gaming creative opportunities.

School Connectedness

Screen overuse weakens a student’s connection with teachers, family, and community. School connectedness is the belief by students that adults and peers in their school environment care about their learning as well as about them as individuals.

Protective Factors

Individual or environmental characteristics, conditions, or behaviors that reduce the effects of stressful life events. These factors also increase an individual’s ability to avoid risks or hazards, and promote social and emotional competence to thrive in all aspects of life, now and in the future. (CDC)

Key protective factors to combat screen overuse:

  • Provide students with the academic, emotional, and social skills necessary to be actively engaged in school.
  • Use effective classroom management and teaching methods to foster a positive learning environment.
  • Provide professional development and support for teachers and other school staff to enable them to meet the diverse cognitive, emotional, and social needs of children and adolescents.

These protective factors all lead to positive health and educational outcomes, according to the Center for Disease Control.

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