Doing Life Together

ID-10041651Please, put away your cell phone! We are eating dinner. 

Get off the video game now. You have homework to do. 

How many hours have you spent on Facebook? How about a real conversation?

I admit, I tend to focus on the negative impact of too much screen time. We know, from studies, that too much screen time can lead to every thing from obesity to impaired brain function. But are there any upsides to screen time?

Like most things, even screen time is not all bad. Although I will say that an excess of screen time and what you do on screen time do matter.

Sandra Calvert, director of Georgetown University’s Children’s Digital Media Center, says screen time can boost two executive function skills in the brain–reasoning and problem-solving. She also notes that when games like MIT-developed, Scratch, are played, a child’s hand-eye coordination and logic skills can improve.

Nicholas Carr, author of The Glass Cage, believes visual acuity gets better.

Addressing possible positive social effects of screen time, Lee Humphreys, associate professor of communications at Cornell University believes people can spend well meaning time on screens. She doesn’t see screen time as a complete blockage of all social engagement, reminding us that people have used media to isolate before. Think hiding behind a newspaper or book when you didn’t want to interact with others.

Still, I add caution to these positives because of what we know about brain changes related to excess screen time. Excess screen time can lead to kids who are moody, impulsive and attention challenged. And the multiple studies that show atrophy of gray matter in the brain, can’t be denied. And so it goes… best advice is still the biblical one. Moderation in all things.


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