These were requested by a reader; feel free to contact me on facebook (Karyn At Kloppenmum) if you want me to write about something in particular. If I can; I will.
I’m not going to get into the ‘moderation’ argument. It’s up to you what you do once you’ve read through these lists. I completely understand using screen time as a ‘what’s in it for me’ strategy when children are faced with challenges, and I know for some parents it’s the only time-out they get. And yes, we watch the tele. Nevertheless…
- The fovea makes up 1% of the retina.
- Usually the fovea is meant to be used to receive information on which we are concentrating on intensely.
- The fovea, therefore, tries to send all possible information to the brain it can.
- The rest of the retina gives us peripheral vision.
- Peripheral vision is there to distract the brain, so it doesn’t become over-loaded from all the information the fovea is feeding it; and it is used to ensure we notice anything sneaking up on us.
- When we watch the screen, peripheral vision isn’t used at all.
- Pictures and words on the screen are made up of pixels. These are small segments of information, which have to keep moving in order to keep moving in order to appear solid.
- The eye keeps having to focus and refocus on the pixellated images.
- The brain assumes there is some kind of problem with our eyes and keeps trying to make corrections to the information it is receiving, but it can’t ever sort the problem out. This constant correcting process causes our brains stress.
- Brainwaves are given off at different frequencies to show what kind of activities our brains are involved with. The more complex the brainwaves the more our brains are being used and this is what they crave: we experience this when we are in the zone and children are naturally in this state when involved in old-fashioned, open-ended play.
- When we watch the screen alpha waves are given off. This usually shows our brain is in a state of deep relaxation, but the HUGE amounts of alpha waves given off show our brains are shutting down. They are over-whelmed. This is a similar state to that which we can get into if we are being mauled by a tiger – the brain assumes we are in mortal danger. It’s a pleasant place to be, but not where we are meant to be unless we are waiting for healing or death.
- When we watch the screen, theta waves are given off. Theta waves are usually given off when we are storing information in short-term memory for later processing and they are also released when we are drifting off to sleep. When we watch the screen the abundance of theta waves show there is no conscious thought happening at all. We’re in a state of daze. (Slack jaw and wide eyes.) The brain cannot keep up with the huge amount of data we are expecting it to manage.
- The fight/flight part of our brain automatically interprets flickering lights and loud noises as signs of danger. Pixellation is flickering.
- The constant stimulation of the fight/flight system while we watch the screen makes our brain release the stress hormone cortisol.
Automatic Replays and Stress reactions
- There are more psychiatric problems for those of us who live in noisy environments and the noisier the environment the less well children do academically. Electronic and mechanical noises not the noises our brains were built to deal with.
- We cannot turn off the impact of visual stimulus. Our brain constantly replays what it has seen in order to try to make sense of it.
- After 9/11, the more a person had watched re-runs of the events, the more likely they suffered psychologically. Regardless of if they had lost someone or lived close to the sites.
- People show the full impact of stress reactions after an event. Some children are often clingy, agitated, depressed, anxious, violent etc after they have been watching the screen. Sometimes they are just niggly and unpleasant to be with.
- Happy brain chemicals are usually released during the brain activities associated with alpha and theta waves.
- Any activity we do during which lots of alpha and theta waves are released, we want to do again and again. This is how addiction works, e.g. (simplistically) alcoholics usually emit very low rates of alpha and theta waves.
- If a person cannot go without the screen for 48 hours, they are probably addicted. (My hand is up and waving.)
- The only way we can know if our children are or aren’t addicted to electronic entertainment is to remove it, including any battery run toys, for 48 hours.
- If they are addicted they will begin to show the same reaction as anyone going through withdrawal: denial, anger and bargaining are the first three stages.
The Positive Effects of Removing Screen Time (After Withdrawal)
- Fewer arguments between siblings.
- Fewer silly noises and baby talk.
- Less frenetic running about and other seemingly out of control behaviours.
- Better sleep patterns, and no Night Terrors.
- Less violence, bitchiness and general nastiness.
- Greater oral communication skills and more interesting conversations.
- Greater co-operation.
- Increased ability to play alone and to entertain themselves.
- Greater calm.
- Increasing willingness to do as told, when told.
Make of that what you will.