Pediatricians Now Agree: Screen Time Isn’t So Bad for Kids

When families seek our professional advice on managing technology in their children’s lives, we turn to research-based AAP guidelines that promote positive media use and discourage potentially harmful use.

Source: Beyond “Turn It Off”: How to Advise Families on Media Use

I’ve covered neuroplasticity before.  And there is a theory for why some are nearsighted…  But in this day and age, there’s a risk of hindering developing minds if they don’t have access to things their peers do.  It’s coming to the point that the Internet is a fundamental service, not unlike electricity or water.

Parenting tip: I know of one parent who keeps tabs on his kids via Facebook, using an account for the family dog.  The kids can’t be that old, but apparently open up to the “dog” account – unlike for an adult/parent account.

Brains: Reshaped by Touchscreen Use

You know what they say about big thumbs… 😉

Extensive use of smartphone touchscreens is changing the sensory relationship between our brains and our thumbs, a study published in Current Biology has revealed.

…”What this means for us neuroscientists is that the digital history we carry in our pockets has an enormous amount of information on how we use our fingertips (and more),” explains one of the study’s authors, Arko Ghosh.Linking this “digital history” to brain activity was a case of using electroencephalography (EEG) to examine how regular smartphone users responded in tests compared to those who use older-style feature phones. Each set of phone users had their brain response to various mechanical touches recorded, with a focus on the thumb, forefinger and middle finger.

Source: Our brains are being ‘continuously reshaped’ by smartphone use

We’ve known for a long time that your brain specializes and you gain greater sensitivity when you repeat tasks or increase usage of a part of your body.  Braille is the classic example. Most people would have a hard time discriminating the individual raised dots without wiggling their finger on each one (and some people not even then), but once you learn and practice your fingers can read them at a fairly decent speed.  Other examples include: martial arts, yoga, artistry and artisanry (blacksmithing, masons, tilers, etc), athletes…

Some would argue that this is evolutionary.  But sperm DNA is continuosly modified, so men pass on different things at different ages. Eggs are all formed before birth.  This is why a theory exists that cancers/etc might occurring in children whose fathers are older.  Secondly, we have lots in our bodies which serves no purpose, but it wasn’t phased out completely.  IE: the appendix.  Not only it doesn’t help, but it represents a potential cause of death in some cases. We have evolved not to need it/ use it, but we didn’t get rid of it.  Similarly – the tail bone.  Some do have a vestigial tail.  Don’t send me pics, I’m only interested if the tail is prehensile.  Epigenetics is the field working to explain what you are imparting on your children.

The real take-away from the abstract is the suggestion that your brain increases activity to your thumbs, but only while you’re using a touchscreen (smartphone, tablet, etc).

Study: Tables & E-Readers Might Alter Your Sleep Schedule

In less than a decade, reading has shifted from the medium it dominated for centuries—paper—to screens of various sorts. The change in habit has been accompanied by concerns over whether this could be influencing sleep. Exposure to light biased toward blue wavelengths, such as that produced by the screens of tablets, has been shown to alter the circadian rhythms that set the body’s clock.

A number of studies have suggested that this is a real problem—enough that the Mayo Clinic’s advice on getting better sleep notes that “Some research suggests that screen time or other media use before bedtime interferes with sleep.” Now, new research published in PNAS provides some hard numbers to back up these worries. But it’s a small study with some significant limitations, so this shouldn’t be seen as the final word on the topic.

Source: E-readers and tablets really do seem to alter your sleep schedule

My narcolepsy kept me from participating in the study 😉