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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Digital danger: Screen time is stealing childhood

Screen time is very bad for kids, argues Michel Desmurget, a French neuroscientist, in Screen Damage: The Dangers of Digital Media for Children. The French title translates as "The Digital Cretin Factory," notes media researcher Andrey Mir in City Journal.

Even toddlers average nearly 50 minutes a day on screens, according to Desmurget.

Screen time reaches two hours and 45 minutes between the ages of two and eight, four hours and 45 minutes between the ages of eight and 12, and an astonishing seven hours and 15 minutes between the ages of 13 and 18. That represents 20 percent, 32 percent, and 45 percent of kids’ waking time, respectively.

The time spent with screens in early age is “stolen time” from children's cognitive and social development, he argues. For example, children don't develop language skills without lots of human-to-human communications.

Screen Damage calls for no screen time for children under 6 and no more than an hour a day for those six to 12 years old.

The more countries invest in education technology, the worse students do, academically, emotionally and socially, writes Desmurget.

The "digital divide" has reversed. Children from low-income families spend almost twice as much time consuming digital media as privileged children.

"Teen girls spend more time (90 minutes daily) on social media than do teen boys (51 minutes)," notes Mir. "Teen boys, meantime, are significantly more susceptible to video games (2 hours and 17 minutes daily) than are girls (47 minutes)."

Heavy social media use is linked to depression and anxiety. And that's an awful lot of time not available for sports, homework and hanging out with friends IRL. Or sleeping.

When teenagers cut back on social media, they feel better about themselves, according to a new study.

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