Parental control of screen time management is something we need to talk about. Negative behaviors associated with screen time are annoying at best. But this compelling research proves screen time is ruining young brains’ cognitive function and social awareness.
I’m noticing an interesting pattern lately in clinical practice: young boys that no longer recognize colors. Parents are unaware because the child learned color naming appropriately earlier in life, but now they struggle with visually processing colors. The child will fail the Ishihara color plate test but pass the D15 color test (more extensive testing). The common denominators? Boys around age 8 to 10 who use screens excessively. I’m not sure what’s happening but have found taking away screens and prescribing low prism glasses to help change visual processing has fixed this strange phenomenon. It takes about 4 months and I’ve only done it yet with 2 patients, but there are many more showing signs of reduced ability to visually process colors.
Being unable to “see” colors reduces your employment prospects. Many professions, including firefighting, the military and law enforcement, restrict or even ban colorblind people from some positions. After all, meat inspectors must detect telltale blemishes, diamond appraisers must spot gradations of color and bus drivers must react to stoplights. Some European countries don’t allow driving at all if color blind. Excessive screen time is anything more than 20 minutes TOTAL per day. Everyone grossly underestimates the amount of time they are using. Yes, using. Because at this point, it’s an addiction and it’s embarrassing to fess up to how much we are actually on our screens. Screen time includes the 15 minutes the kids use it while we are driving, the 5 minutes they pick it up while we are going to the bathroom, the 30 minute wait at the doctor office or in line at the grocery or sitting at a restaurant waiting for food or… Every. Single.Time. It all adds up to way more time in a day than we are aware.
The research is compelling, it is destroying our brains and our humanity! “In short, excessive screen-time appears to impair brain structure and function. Much of the damage occurs in the brain’s frontal lobe, which undergoes massive changes from puberty until the mid-twenties. Frontal lobe development, in turn, largely determines success in every area of life—from sense of well-being to academic or career success to relationship skills. Use this research to strengthen your own parental position on screen management, and to convince others to do the same.”
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