Technology Toxins

There is growing concern by healthcare practitioners, teachers and parents related to the consequences of media use by children. Our children are commonly interacting with electronic devices 6-8 hours (and many times more) in a day. There is no evidence that early exposure to technology results in improved educational or developmental outcomes. In fact, the opposite is true. Movement, touch and connection to other human beings are essential elements of healthy physical and mental development, none of which are promoted by technology. Analysis of the impact of technology on the developing child indicates that the nervous pathways are permanently altered, contributing to increases in the diagnosis of attention disorders, autism, anxiety, obesity, depression and sleep disorders. It is as imperative as promoting healthy diet, movement and sleep, that we develop methods to monitor our children’s media use. Key points in reviewing the literature are that 1) electronics use has become the ‘normal’, 2) children with mental illness are more vulnerable to addiction, 3) there is a correlation between internet and video gaming use and psychiatric disorder, particularly ADHD, anxiety, depression and social phobias, 4) electronic use by children has a negative effect on executive function, 5) and there is a very clear connection between electronic use and poor sleep.

Healthy sleep is essential for children’s mood regulation, academic performance, energy for physical activity, weight control and relationships. There are numerous studies and experiential reports of the deleterious effects to sleep by electronic use in children and adolescents.

We have an epidemic of childhood obesity in the US which is multifactorial, but one unavoidable conclusion is that sedentary lifestyles and eating poor diets in the company of electronics are exacerbating the problem.

Victoria L Dunckley, MD wrote a fabulous book called ‘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’

We use a protocol based on her book in our office.  If you are interested in her system of screen ‘fasts’ and want to engage your family in a four week experiment, you can get the protocol HERE.

Dr. Cheri Standing

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