Is your child moody? Acting depressed or unmotivated? PUT AWAY THE SCREENS, Please.

Excerpt from this article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mental-wealth/201508/screentime-is-making-kids-moody-crazy-and-lazy#sidr-main is below.

I only share this article because I care about your children and all the children I know and I have seen the negative effects of screen time, first hand….

Screentime Is Making Kids Moody, Crazy and Lazy

….

Excerpt:

Here’s a look at six physiological mechanisms that explain electronics’ tendency to produce mood disturbance:

1. Screen time disrupts sleep and desynchronizes the body clock(link is external).

Because light from screen devices mimics daytime, it suppresses melatonin, a sleep signal released by darkness. Just minutes of screen stimulation can delay melatonin release by several hours and desynchronize the body clock. Once the body clock is disrupted, all sorts of other unhealthy reactions occur, such as hormone imbalance and brain inflammation. Plus, high arousal doesn’t permit deep sleep, and deep sleep is how we heal.

2. Screen time desensitizes the brain’s reward system.

Many children are “hooked” on electronics, and in fact gaming releases so muchdopamine—the “feel-good” chemical—that on a brain scan it looks the same as cocaineuse. But when reward pathways are overused, they become less sensitive, and more and more stimulation is needed to experience pleasure. Meanwhile, dopamine is also critical for focus and motivation, so needless to say, even small changes in dopamine sensitivity can wreak havoc on how well a child feels and functions.

3. Screen time produces “light-at-night.”

Light-at-night from electronics has been linked to depression and even suicide risk in numerous studies. In fact, animal studies(link is external) show that exposure to screen-based light before or during sleep causes depression, even when the animal isn’t looking at the screen. Sometimes parents are reluctant to restrict electronics use in a child’s bedroom because they worry the child will enter a state of despair—but in fact removing light-at-night is protective.

4. Screen time induces stress reactions.

Both acute stress (fight-or-flight) and chronic stress produce changes in brain chemistry and hormones that can increase irritability. Indeed, cortisol, the chronic stress hormone, seems to be both a cause and an effect of depression—creating a vicious cycle. Additionally, both hyperarousal and addiction pathways suppress the brain’s frontal lobe, the area where mood regulation actually takes place.

5. Screen time overloads the sensory system(link is external), fractures attention(link is external), and depletes mental reserves. 

Experts say that what’s often behind explosive and aggressive behavior is poor focus.(link is external)When attention suffers, so does the ability to process one’s internal and externalenvironment, so little demands become big ones. By depleting mental energy with high visual and cognitive input, screen time contributes to low reserves. One way to temporarily “boost” depleted reserves is to become angry, so meltdowns actually become a coping mechanism.

6. Screen-time reduces physical activity levels and exposure to “green time.”

Research shows that time outdoors, especially interacting with nature, can restore attention, lower stress, and reduce aggression.(link is external) Thus, time spent with electronics reduces exposure to natural mood enhancers.

In today’s world, it may seem crazy to restrict electronics so drastically. But when kids are struggling, we’re not doing them any favors by leaving electronics in place and hoping they can wind down by using electronics in “moderation.” It just doesn’t work. In contrast, by allowing the nervous system to return to a more natural state with a strict fast, we can take the first step in helping a child become calmer, stronger, and happier.

For more on this topic, check out my new book, Reset Your Child’s Brain: A Four Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades and Boost Social Skills by Reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen Time.

Another related article:

http://www.wired.com/2011/10/infant-tv-guidelines/

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