Why Delay Smartphone Use?
1) SCREEN TIME: TOO MUCH, TOO EASY
2) PERSUASIVE DESIGN KEEPS KIDS HOOKED
3) NEGATIVE HEALTH AND LEARNING OUTCOMES
4) WE ARE WHAT WE CONSUME
Let’s Change the Culture!
● WE CAN CHOOSE ANOTHER OPTION FOR COMMUNICATION
● WE CAN FILL KIDS’ DAYS WITH HEALTHY BRAIN-BUILDING ACTIVITIES
● WE CAN DELAY SMARTPHONE USE
1. SCREEN TIME: TOO MUCH, TOO EASY
Smartphones give kids constant, easy access to the internet, games and social media. This quickly adds up to way too much screen time as well as exposure to content that may not be appropriate for a child’s age or developmental stage.
Kids get 6-9 hours of screen time per day.
Professionals recommend 1-2 hours per day.
Both kids and parents are concerned about smartphone use.
45% of adolescents say they are online “almost constantly”
Exposure to violent content is associated with a decrease in prosocial behavior.
Screenagers, a film created by Dr. Delaney Ruston outlines the problem well. Watch the Screenagers trailer
2. PERSUASIVE DESIGN
Persuasive Design (or persuasive technology) is the use of psychology and neuroscience in the design process to change human attitudes and behaviors through persuasion and social influence. Although some forms are used for positive change, many more are used simply to keep us engaged with an app for as long as possible. This is often called “the attention economy”.
More time on an app = more profits for the company.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR MY CHILD?
Behind every app- especially in games and social media- is an army of experts working to exploit your child’s vulnerabilities and manipulate your child’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors--for company profit. The development and well-being of children is not taken into consideration.
Children are more vulnerable to persuasive design techniques because the frontal lobe of a human brain is not fully developed until age 25 or later. The frontal lobe is responsible for impulse control, self-management, future planning, decision-making, empathy and more. Therefore, developmentally, children and teens are not fully able to self-regulate device use. They need our help!
IS THIS ETHICAL?
Some psychologists believe the use of persuasive design with kids is unethical.
The Center for Humane Technology, established by a former Google Design Ethicist named Tristan Harris, works to “realign technology with humanity’s best interests”. The Center worries that a small group of Silicon Valley designers are manipulating the behaviors, thoughts and feelings of over a billion people on the planet.
Tristan Harris’ TEDTALK: How a Handful of Companies Control Billions of Minds Everyday
Dr. Richard Freed’s article: The Tech Industry’s Psychological War on Children
3. NEGATIVE HEALTH AND LEARNING OUTCOMES
SCREEN TIME AFFECTS PHYSICAL HEALTH:
Screen time is associated with obesity
Screen time causes digital eye strain which may lead to issues later in life
Screens emit blue light which is associated with sleep disturbances. Lack of proper sleep is related to a host of physical and mental health issues.
Cindy Eckard’s Blog on the Physical Health Impacts of Screens: Screens and Kids
SCREEN TIME AFFECTS MENTAL HEALTH:
significantly, and have been associated with smartphones.
Gaming disorder is now a recognized mental health disorder.
Screen time can cause emotional dysregulation in many children- often seen as hyperarousal or changes in mood, cognition and behavior. Dr. Victoria Dunckely has prescribed “screen fasts” in her child and adolescent mental health patients for over a decade. These “fasts” have lessened or eliminated mental health symptoms in her patients- and sometimes eliminated the need for drugs. She sees a surge in (frontal lobe) executive functioning when screens are eliminated and suspects that screen use causes a stress response in a child’s nervous system, causing the dysregulation.
Jean Twenge, PhD article: Have smartphones Destroyed a Generation?
Jean Twenge’s Ted Talk
Dr. Victoria Dunckley: Is Screen Time Making Kids Moody, Crazy and Lazy?
SCREEN TIME AFFECTS SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL HEALTH:
Communication skills and Empathy levels are suffering
Screens have fundamentally changed how kids communicate, and this affects every relationship in their lives. Kids’ focus on screen relationships may affect their ability to communicate and empathize with others even more than we think.
Smartphones stifle kids’ ability to recognize others’ emotions through simple facial cues. A UCLA study found that kids’ ability to read facial cues went UP after just 5 days at a device-free camp.
MIT Professor Sherry Turkle believes that screen time has stunted kids’ emotional development. She has written extensively about this “assault on empathy” and the far-reaching effects of less face-to-face communication in our lives. She notes a 40% decline in empathy levels in college students – which is related to the increase in mobile technologies.
Sherry Turkle’s article: The Assault on Empathy
SCREEN TIME AFFECTS ATTENTION AND ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT:
There has been a surge in ADHD diagnoses in the past 10 years
Increased screen time equals increased Attention Issues in studies of children ages 1-24
4. WE ARE WHAT WE CONSUME
The adage “you are what you eat” can also apply to the steady diet of digital media our kids consume. Here’s why:
ACTIVITIES CHANGE BRAIN STRUCTURE by creating neural pathways in the brain. So, if a child engages in reading, sports or music over and over again, the corresponding neural pathways are strengthened. If a child engages in gaming and social media over and over again, those are the neural pathways being developed and strengthened.
USE IT OR LOSE IT! A child’s growth includes developmental stages of neural pruning. This means that neural pathways that are not used are pruned away. Therefore, if time spent on mindless screen use (gaming, social media, videos etc) displaces time spent on healthier activities, thosehealthy neural pathways may be pruned away for good. Neural pathways can be altered as adults, but it is much more difficult. It is important to establish healthy habits during childhood and adolescence.
LET’S CHANGE THE CULTURE!
WE CAN CHOOSE ANOTHER OPTION FOR SIMPLE COMMUNICATION
Lightphone and Lightphone 2
Gizmo and GizmoPal2
WE CAN FILL KIDS’ DAYS WITH HEALTHY BRAIN-BUILDING ACTIVITIES
Reading, free or creative play time, time in nature, exercise, socializing, chores, mindfulness or meditation practices, and even daydreaming all work to build a healthy brain through fostering empathy, sparking creativity, and strengthening executive functioning skills.
WE CAN DELAY SMARTPHONE USE
Together we can create change in our community!
Our public promise helps to reduce the social pressure to have a smartphone by making smartphones the exception, not the rule. Viable alternatives to smartphones already exist in the market. These alternatives allow children to communicate without unrestricted, at-your-fingertips access to the Internet, social media and gaming. Let’s encourage our kids to put their devices down, and pick their heads up!