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Ample Screen Time—is it Evolution or Suicide?

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Is too much screen time a myth, the natural evolution of our society, or is it truly unhealthy? 

Historically any new technology meets resistance, and when I refer to technology, I mean any new application or device including books. Yeah, you heard right—books. Crazy, right, but it’s true. A little less than 200 years ago, books were scandalous. Just as we see references in today’s media like Disney’s Wally, where humans destroy the earth with consumption, the evils of literature were prevalent in yesteryears media. In Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, published in 1856, he cites the salacious material, “made her hands dirty with books from old lending libraries.”  Jane Austen also satires the common sentiment that books were unhealthy specifically to women, inciting confusion between reality and fantasy, (https://op-talk.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/09/14/when-novels-were-bad-for-you).

Even the telephone met fear and descent. Mark Twain said himself in 1890, “It is my … hope and aspiration that all of us, the high, the low, the rich, the poor, the admired, the despised, the loved, the hated, the civilized, the savage (every man and brother of us all throughout the whole earth), may eventually be gathered together in a heaven of everlasting rest and peace and bliss, except the inventor of the telephone.” 

Unhealthy or Adaptation?

It should come as no surprise that screen time is the topic of similar conversation. In Harvard’s Medical News and Research, (https://hms.harvard.edu/news/screen-time-brain) a study on the effects of screens and health showed how digital devices interfere with the brain. Debra Bradley Ruder reports issues such as:

  • Impoverished stimulation
  • Suppressed melatonin secretions interrupting healthy sleep
  • Encouraged obsessive behavior before Self-control is fully developed

However, the unbiased report also recognizes this technology is a tool, and the unhealthy effects are really a matter of user responsibility. 

  • Beware of digital media distraction. 
  • Have regular sit-downs, screen-free meals with your children.
  • Put down your device. Be present with others. Observe the world around you. Let your mind wander.
  • Avoid blue light-emitting screen use before bedtime.
  • Play online games with your children rather than forbidding them. 
  • Help your children plan how to spend their time, focusing on important and favorite activities to avoid sliding into the screen abyss.

Screens & Quarantines

After the 2020/2021 blur of isolations, closures of schools, businesses, and the basically the entire world—we have evolved, and the negative sentiments have lightened. Because of this technology, many were able to work from home and kept their jobs, kept their kids in school, and society didn’t come to a dystopian halt as pictured in shows such as The Walking Dead or Revolution. But does that mean time on screens should be unfettered? 

The Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact tank which conducts public opinion polls, demographic research, content analysis and other data-driven social science research with no policy positions, reported Frank Kaufmann, a North American educator and scholar summarizing the data spot on. “Technology improves the lives of people who can avoid being dominated by it and forced into debilitating addictions to it.” (https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2018/07/03/fifty-fifty-anecdotes-how-digital-life-has-been-both-positive-and-negative/)

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change,” Charles Darwin.

HOWEVER…

Technology is a tool like a firearm. In the hands of a responsible user, it can protect, provide food, and enhance the quality of life. In the hands of the opposite, it brings mass destruction, death, and dystopia.  Ample screen time, is it evolution or suicide? It depends on the user. 

“Responsibility is accepting that you are the cause and the solution of the matter!”

Anonymous.

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