Glow kids: Beware of the screen

Bianna Golodryga
Yahoo News and Finance Anchor

by Kelli Hill

Are kids today spending more time in front of a screen than learning at school? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, kids spend an average of seven hours a day on entertainment media — televisions, computers, tablets and other electronic devices.

Yahoo News and Finance Anchor Bianna Golodryga sat down with psychotherapist and addiction specialist Nicholas Kardaras, author of “Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids — and How to Break the Trance,” to discuss how digital screens may have a negative effect on children and what parents can do to address it.

“Children were getting into these trance, addictive-like ways of being with their digital devices, and it really has crept up on us as a society in the last 10 or 12 years.” Kardaras said. “I’m not anti-technology. Technology has to be age appropriate because children’s brains are very fragile developmentally, and this generation of screen media is qualitatively different than a television. Television was passive visual stimulation. An interactive screen is immersive and much more hyperarousing and stimulating.”

Kardaras notes that research shows screens are affecting the frontal cortex of a child’s brain in the same way cocaine addiction does. He recommends that parents limit their child’s screen time and use of electronic devices up until the age of 10 because a child’s brain is still developing.

“Up until 10, because that’s the most fragile developmental period. That’s when the child should be using their active imagination, their tactile ability to write. Pressing a keypad doesn’t develop that experiential tactile ability,” Kardaras said.

Even though many schools now use tablets and computers for interactive learning, Kardaras is very critical of the practice. “Educators have been conned by technology companies into believing a narrative that iPads or interactive screen devices are somehow educational,” he said. “In fact, if you look at the research, and I’ve looked at the research and other people who are education experts have looked at the research, it’s the greatest lie going.”

Kardaras says his book gives parents the tools to make their own decisions about their kids and screen time. “All children are different,” he said. “If you are beginning to see that your child gets what we call mood dysregulated when their device is taken away, that’s a red flag that there might be a problem.”