Kids and Screens

There’s been a lot of research in the past years regarding exposing children to screens (of various kinds). The “when and how much TV to watch” debate has been raging on for decades (with clear results but with even harder to apply rules, especially as a lot of people seem to not care about the facts).

However, the new screens available to children today, namely mobile phones, pads, portable game consoles and other such interactive entertainment devices are an order of magnitude more powerful when it comes to influencing brain development.

Alarm bells should start ringing when some of the most famous people dealing with technology try to protect their children from these sort of devices:^

I’m young enough to have been influenced by handheld game consoles and I distinctly remember how my school performance and social skills suffered due to how enticed I was by these gizmos. I have worked with software during the past 20 years and I am in a good position to understand how it is built in order to capture minds^, both young and old. Here’s what Facebook’s first president had to say about “exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology”:^

But enough with the technology part. Here’s what psychologists have to say about all this:^

Like I said in another article, parenting advice is a dime a dozen these days^. But this is not advice. This is presenting actual cold hard science and even colder and harder decisions that must be taken. In our family, we will politely prohibit (guide with kindness, offer healthy entertainment alternatives) our son from getting near these things at least until he’s five years old. We are also curtailing the use of such devices when he’s around. Being constantly online is mind poison anyway.

Update: And then, of course, there’s the Trojan horse aspect these devices pose. Privacy? What privacy?

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