Doctors have again warned parents that they need to limit social media use for their children and ban smartphones from children’s bedrooms entirely. The news that emerged and is making national headlines today is not surprising at all, because experts like pediatricians and psychologists have been saying the same things for years: unlimited screen use can cause disastrous behavioral and other negative brain effects and may lead to a long list of very serious problems, especially for children. However, the public isn’t listening, preferring instead to scoff at seasoned pediatricians and taunt the bearers of this news as out-of-touch Luddites.
Now, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a new policy, one which parents and children alike will undoubtedly just laugh at because they’re too busy texting and frittering away time on Twitter and Facebook to pay attention to what doctors have to say. The new policy has now officially added computers, tablets, smartphones and other screens to the original recommendation of limiting TV time to no more than two hours per day, total, and zero hours per day for children under the age of two. That means that kids under two shoudn’t be using screens at all. When parents let their baby play with an iPad, they could potentially be letting the baby suffer brain damage. Some experts feel that no babies should be playing with iPads, stating it could harm the child’s development. Other children should be using screens for no more than two hours per day for entertainment purposes. That includes total screen time, so that could translate to no more than one hour of TV and one hour of social media time, including texting, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Foursquare, etc. each day.
Experts and journalists who have been reporting and talking about this issue for the last three or four years can now officially say “I told you so” to the tech evangelists who argued that the television recommendation didn’t apply to other screens. Experts have been telling parents to limit social media use and ban smartphones from the bedroom for quite awhile, but this is the first time the recommendation has been published by a leading medical academy.Yes, the recommendation does officially apply to all screens now, so those tech evangelists and smug gadget addicts will have to reach deep to find some other taunts.
The new policy has been published in the journal Pediatrics. Doctors say that the list of problems that unrestricted overuse of screens and social media can cause includes: a reduction in self-esteem, an increase in narcissism, depression, extreme addiction, anxiety, bullying, weight gain, poor memory, eye strain, insomnia, lower grades, a drastic reduction in social skills, brain damage and in extreme cases, suicide.
The list of reactions this news is going to receive includes:
-“You’re an idiot!”
-“That’s what they said about the printing press too!”
-“This is a bunch of bulls***”
-“Whoever did this study/wrote this paper is a moron”
-“My child uses the internet 16 hours a day and he’s a genius!”
-“I use the internet 16 hours a day and there’s nothing wrong with me! This article is stupid.”
-“When did backward dinosaur Luddites become doctors?”
-“You need to put on your tin foil hat LOL!”
-“Just another idiot trying to blame the internet for everything”
These reponses are all real, by the way. They’ve been gathered from comments underneath other articles about this topic, so it’s safe to assume this new development will elicit the same commentary. Everyone’s an expert. Everyone knows so much more than the doctors, the pediatricians, the psychologists and the neuroscientists.
Dr. Victor Strasburger says “many parents are clueless” about the terrible effects of unlimited screen usage by children, and that the parents “need to get with it.” Little does he know, in fact, that most people think he’s the clueless one. After all, he’s just a highly accomplished and well respected pediatrician, and they are the public; that ever-so-brilliant animal who knows better than all the experts combined.
Doctors have told parents to limit social media usage and ban smartphones in the bedroom. Unfortunately for society, no one is going to listen.
An Editorial By: Rebecca Savastio