Children taking over the screen world

By Roy Smith for the BBC Imagine your children’s bright eyes, their ears, their nose… The crazy thing is they are still awake. No wonder a survey from the Mother Brain project revealed that…

Children taking over the screen world

By Roy Smith for the BBC

Imagine your children’s bright eyes, their ears, their nose… The crazy thing is they are still awake. No wonder a survey from the Mother Brain project revealed that some 3 in 4 mums believe their child is very or extremely tired. What parents don’t realise is that modern gadgets are exacerbating this condition. Experts say that increased attention span, lights and emails are all contributing to children’s slumber. Television technology This is all adding up to what Professor Elly Kelly from the University of Bedfordshire has dubbed the ‘Prodaytifier’. “We know that there is a strong correlation between hours of exposure to screens, exposure to social media and children actually being more tired than what we had seen previously.” The video above shows three little girls in a sweet shop, just about the only way children can concentrate in so-called sweet shops. Research shows that some electronic devices raise your child’s serotonin levels, giving them a nice boost

Professor John Stillwell

University of Bedfordshire It shows them playing with a mobile phone, just about the only device on which children can concentrate. There are around 450 million mobile phones in Britain alone, and many more laptops and other devices. An hour or so spent on one device is only one stage, albeit a critical one, in our children’s developing nervous systems. It has been shown that up to 2% of modern children exhibit symptoms of sleep deprivation and that use of mobile phones and electronic gadgets is one factor. Professor John Stillwell from the University of Bedfordshire says: “The video above shows three little girls in a sweet shop, just about the only way children can concentrate in so-called sweet shops. Research shows that some electronic devices raise your child’s serotonin levels, giving them a nice boost. Technology helps our brain to process information, re-orient itself and to adapt to our new environment. And technology can take an increased focus away from TV and computers – because we are using computers, rather than fixed TV sets, our attention is on this one thing. “In fact, computer screens are an enhanced source of risk to young children because they are brighter than many ambient light sources like fluorescent bulbs. Kids are drawn to screens, but the choice is yours, you can opt out.” How to help We use smartphones, hand-held computers and tablets to talk and text with friends. We do that because we are no longer sat in front of the television. The social influences of computer games are not necessarily a good thing for our brains or our children’s brain development. We do it because that’s how we communicate. Viewers are invited to explore their own mental health Attitudes to social media and social networking may have come a long way from the hedonistic image of an era when my generation could get away with every kind of behaviour we wanted. But to give every child the opportunity to have their smartphone removed from them on a weekly basis is out of the question. The Mother Brain project has no more than a 10-year vision. In that time we need to get very close to see how technology – or others – affect our brain development. The Mother Brain project is a collaboration between University of Bedfordshire and the Hospital for Sick Children at Toronto.

Copyright: BBC News, 2011.

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