It’s ‘Digital Heroin’: How Screens Turn Kids Into Psychotic Junkies

December 20th, 2016

My sons, aged 9 and 6, get 30 minutes of video (that I’ve approved) per day and then 1.5 hours of gaming on Saturdays and Sundays, assuming all homeschool lessons are completed.

As little screen time as this is, I’ve found that they have become obsessed with the stuff they encounter in the small windows of time they’re allowed screen access. We’re hearing about diamond swords and Endermen outside of screen time, for example.

Becky was against giving them any screen time at all, but I was worried that they would eventually grow up, encounter screens and become consumed with the whole mess. I met a guy who wasn’t allowed to watch any TV as a child who became really addicted to it as an adult. Also, they know about video games in the first place because they’ve seen my Crysis, Bioshock, Starcraft, etc. boxes on my bookshelf! If you’re a gamer and you don’t want your kids to be gamers: Definitely throw out the boxes and don’t let them know that you do it!

Misha Pemble-Belkin, from Restrepo, is probably the main reason I chose to dose my boys with small amounts of screen time. Raised by “hippy” pacifists, Belkin wasn’t allowed to play with toy guns or watch violent movies as a kid. He grew up, joined the U.S. Army and was happy to be killing people with a MK-19 automatic grenade launcher in Afghanistan. For parents who implement a lot of bans, I think there’s a lesson to be learned from Belkin.

I decided to try giving my boys modest amounts of screen time (as indicated above), but I wonder if it was the right thing to do. My wife still thinks that zero screen time is the way to go. It might be that there’s no good answer and that some options are just less bad than others. I do get a feeling, however, that outright banning would backfire badly.

Via: New York Post:

There’s a reason that the most tech-cautious parents are tech designers and engineers. Steve Jobs was a notoriously low-tech parent. Silicon Valley tech executives and engineers enroll their kids in no-tech Waldorf Schools. Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page went to no-tech Montessori Schools, as did Amazon creator Jeff Bezos and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.

Many parents intuitively understand that ubiquitous glowing screens are having a negative effect on kids. We see the aggressive temper tantrums when the devices are taken away and the wandering attention spans when children are not perpetually stimulated by their hyper-arousing devices. Worse, we see children who become bored, apathetic, uninteresting and uninterested when not plugged in.

But it’s even worse than we think.

Related:

Video games are more addictive than ever. This is what happens when kids can’t turn them off.

5 Responses to “It’s ‘Digital Heroin’: How Screens Turn Kids Into Psychotic Junkies”

  1. cryingfreeman Says:

    My mother grew up with no TV, but when my parents got married, that all changed. And from that day onward, TV just mesmerised her. So I would suggest your measured approach is the better one; my wife and I do much the same with our kids. And everything has to be supervised and vetted; even daytime ads here in Latvia have been known to feature lesbianism, for example.

  2. Kevin Says:

    The things I notice constantly are crude language and themes related to turning children against parents and other adults. Also, themes that are totally inappropriate for children. Drug and alcohol abuse. Evil creatures. Violence. This stuff comes up in media that’s supposedly ok for children.

    Cartoons are almost totally unacceptable. My kids think they’re idiotic anyway and don’t even want to watch them. Sarah and Duck is the one exception. I just let them have it, because it seemed pretty innocuous, and they got bored with it eventually.

  3. savethepopulation Says:

    I’m already planning a contingency to transition out of teaching, I don’t know how much longer it will be possible to teach the digital heroin generation. Anyways, the 4th Industrial Revolution is slowly taking care of it…

  4. cryingfreeman Says:

    Yeah, most cartoons are really evil (same with toys). Even Peppa Pig has subtle stuff in it, like her Daddy is a bungling idiot who can’t do anything without Mummy Pig’s superior wisdom. And then his kids call him silly Daddy half the time.

    The only cartoon we like for our kids is Charlie & Lola, a very sweet one that has somehow made it under the radar of the corruption enforcement police.

  5. Dennis Says:

    More support for ‘Charlie & Lola’.

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