The 3 golden rules so that new technologies do not harm children’s development

On average, 2-year-olds use screens for almost 3 hours a day, 8-year-olds almost 5 hours, and adolescents more than 7 hours. “This means that during childhood, the most fundamental period of human development, our descendants devote themselves to recreational screens, the equivalent of 30 years of school, 15 years of paid employment.

“These values ​​are totally astonishing, especially since we are only talking about recreational uses (that is to say outside of school and homework). Or, in order of importance, television which, in its many forms, remains the number one screen. , in particular through the deployment of Netflix and other Amazon Prime (films, series, clips, etc.); then, video games (mainly action and violent) which finally, in adolescence, a frenzy of self-exposure and unnecessary babbling on social networks … “.

This is what warns Michel Desmurget, doctor in neurosciences and research director of the National Institute of Health and Medical Research of France, in an interview on the occasion of the publication of “ The digital factory of crétine ” (Peninsula), a manual with which he warns against the dangerous consequences of the use “absolutely disproportionate” of new generations of technologies.

As to whether there is a maximum recommended time to use the mobile or screens on a daily basis, the expert says that it all depends on age. Before 6 years, the ideal is zero screens, according to him. “That doesn’t mean you can’t watch cartoons with your kids every now and then. In fact, the earlier children are exposed, the greater the negative impacts and the greater the risk of subsequent excessive consumption, ”he explains.

From the age of 6, he recommends a maximum of 30 minutes, or even an hour. “If you do an optimistic reading of the scientific literature, it doesn’t seem to be a problem. Beyond that, the deleterious effects appear and are clearly tangible, particularly with regard to academic success, ”he warns.

From now on, to minimize the risks, the golden rules to follow are, as Desmurget points out:

1.- No screen in the morning, before going to school, or in the evening 60 minutes before going to bed.

2.- No screen when you are with other people and, above all, screens are prohibited in the room.

3.- Finally, it seems difficult to tell your child that screens are a problem when you are constantly connected to your smartphone, television or game console.

The 3 golden rules so that new technologies do not harm the development of your children

According to the neuroscientist, it is also important to point out that to date, no study has shown a negative impact (social, emotional or intellectual) in children and adolescents deprived of recreational screens.

“We can also remember that in an interview, Steve Jobs himself explained, like many other top executives in digital industries, that he was a father engaged in ‘low tech’ and that his children did not have tablet, for example. The former editor-in-chief Wired explained, for his part, in that same article, that he was also attentive to the use of screens, and that if he was, it was because he saw first hand “ the dangers of technology. I don’t want this to happen to my children. “That says it all,” said the French scientist.

A silent assault on children’s development

This author also warns in his book that screens represent a “silent assault” on children’s development. As he argues, this is a silent damage because everything happens in an almost general indifference: “Parents, teachers, speech therapists, pediatricians, check every day that the problems of attention, language, aggressiveness, etc. develop in children. so worrying because it means that the problem has reached a critical stage, but also a hopeful one, because it opens the way to a truly protective prevention policy.

In fact, he denounces in the book that the misuse of technologies has as “first victim” the development of the intelligence of the youngest: “There is an abundant scientific literature which demonstrates the negative impact of digital recreational uses on the intellectual development of children, ultimately with a significant decrease in academic success. “

Contrary to what we still hear too often, Desmurget considers that there is a collapse of intra-family exchanges (especially verbal); quantitatively shortened and qualitatively degraded sleep disorders; exogenous attentional overstimulation favorable to the appearance of alterations in concentration, impulsivity and learning (several rigorously controlled studies have recently confirmed this in animals); intellectual under-stimulation which leaves cognitive construction fallow; and finally an excess of sedentary lifestyle with influences on bodily development but also, as several recent studies underline, cerebral maturation.

“For nearly a century, intelligence test scores have increased from generation to generation. However, in many developed countries this rise has recently reversed, and the famous generation of “millennials” is the first to have an average IQ that is lower than that of the previous generation. The problem does not come only from the screens, but it is clear that they have a clear responsibility for it, explains the research director at the National Institute of health and medical research in France.

Beyond the cognitive, he says screens affect our emotional health, and more specifically, many studies show their effects on anxiety, aggression or the risk of depression; at the same time, he mentions that the abuse of new technologies has a significant impact on obesity or cardiovascular development.

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