Topic: Addressing Dangers of Screen Overuse
In fewer than ten years, most mobile phones have moved from being phone-call and texting devices to an indispensable, instant-access remote source of information, social connection and entertainment.
It is becoming apparent that for many people the immediacy and ‘rewards’ increasingly over-ride the very real need for face-to-face interactions, outdoor exercise and time with nature, while building a sense of isolation and lack of fulfilment.
Extended screen-use is often not a conscious choice but the result of at least three factors: intentional design aspects of online material and platforms intended to hook the user into increasing use; effects of microwaves transmitted by devices (eg mobiles, laptops, and tablets) on cognitive and neurochemical processes; and a lack of understanding of why and how to self-regulate screen-use.
Without conscious steps to be in control of one’s use of screens, the journey to screen-dependence follows. Extensive screen-time can then lead to behavioural problems, anxiety and depression.
Physical risks from extended screen-time include increased risk of myopia, spinal problems, and reduced growth, as well as those which result from a sedentary lifestyle. Exposure to the microwaves emitted also negatively affects sleep, impairs the quality of sperm, and increases oxidative stress (damaging neural cells, among others).
Our mental health statistics are shouting loud and clear: it is high time attention was paid to providing our children and teens with skills to keep or reclaim control over their use of time and prevent electronic technology taking control of their lives. It is our duty as teachers, parents and health providers to teach them how to make technology work for them while building up skills to know why and how to avoid the distractions that lead to dependence and even screen “addiction”.
Some steps towards reducing microwave exposure and hints for managing the impulse to over-use screens will be presented for discussion, along with some resulting benefits.