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Children Consuming Electronic Media

April 23, 2016
Plain English Version

video games

Kids are spending far too much of their time looking at screens. They are playing video games. They are texting. And when they are not, they are watching television.

Is this bad? Experts say yes. For one thing, electronic images are replacing real life. Children are not observing their surroundings, daydreaming or solving real problems. They are playing less in schoolyards. They want to eat what they see on the screen.

The number of hours they spend watching screens is staggering. The violence of some of the video games is shocking. A study of children in China who excessively played with electronics found that some lost touch with reality. It is now considered a clinical disorder. The children go “cold turkey” for months. No one knows if this approach works.

A documentary called Web Junkie” looks at the problem. It shows teens who become hooked on video games. They play for hours. They do not take breaks, eat, sleep or even go to the bathroom. Experts say many come to view the real world as fake.

Parents are at fault. They use screens as baby sitters. They use games to quiet children who are fidgety. Most have no rules on how long or when children can look at phones and other devices.

Before age two, children should not view electronic media. Older kids and teens should be on their devices no more than two hours a day. High-quality content is recommended. More physical playtime is the best idea.

Do violent videos lead to violent children? Some experts say yes. Heavy users of devices may become good at multi-tasking. They may lose the ability to focus on what is important.

Years ago, it was reading and watching TV that absorbed kids. Now it is electronics. Children always overdo a good thing. Future research on the long-term impact may help us know what is really bad for children.

Source: The New York Times July 6, 2015

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