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Camryn Bowles

Professor Hunter

English Composition 1201

15 February 2019

The Effects of Screen Time on Children

As technology advances, how does the amount of screen time affect a child’s physical,

mental, and emotional health? Technology has impacted our world greatly in the past couple

decades. It has brought many different forms of social media and forms of learning. Technology

and social media have become a huge part of our everyday lives. It’s how we do our homework,

entertain our kids, and communicate with each other. The first computers were introduced in the

’30s yet not part of the everyday use until the ’80s. As years go by technology advanced to

smartphones in 1992. This opened up a whole new world of communication and entertainment.

As technology advances children spend the time they used to be playing outside, playing on their

smartphones. With children spending less time outside and more time on their devices it has

brought them more into cyberbullying, obesity, bad behavior, and much more. The amount of

screen time should be limited to children because it negatively affects their physical, mental, and

emotional health

Physical health is critical to a child’s overall well-being. Physical health is the ability to

perform aspects of sports, occupations and daily activities. In order to maintain proper physical

health; you must have a healthy, nutritious diet, engage in physical activities, and get the proper

amount of rest. Physical health can also deal with your five senses; taste, sight, touch, smell, and

sound. One of the five senses that is affected most by the amount of screen time used by kids is

their sight. In an article written by Ayesha Malik from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, she
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addresses the effects that screen time has on children’s vision. There are many problems that can

come with too much screen time for the eyes. “Too much indoors can lead to nearsightedness.”

(Malik). Many other things such as eye fatigue, dry and irritated eyes, and the loss of being able

to focus are all things that are caused from the less exposure to UV light and the excessive

exposure to their devices.The cause of the dry and irritated eyes is due to not blinking enough

when using your devices. “People tend to blink with a decreased frequency when focusing on

activities that heavily rely on eye sight such as reading, writing, computer use, and driving.

These activities deprive the eyes of an essential renewed layer of tear film.” (Dr. Carlo Frontini).

In order for your eyes to stay hydrated you must blink in order to introduce deep mucous,

intermediate aqueous and lipid surface. (Dr. Carlo Frontini).

When you finally decide that you’re ready to turn off your device and go to bed, does

your brain make the same connection? “Screen time can have such an intense effect on the brain

that, even after we turn off the TV or other devices, the brain keeps firing as if it were still

watching it.” (Mintz). This is the reason that children cannot fall asleep after keeping their eyes

glued to their devices. At night our body is on a time clock that is known as the circadian

rhythm. The circadian rhythm is also known as your sleep pattern. When it comes bedtime your

brain should increase the amount of melatonin in your body. Melatonin is a hormone in the

center of the brain that should increase around bedtime to help regulate the body's circadian

rhythm. Using your phones and their bright white light at night disrupts your sleep patterns.

When your brain is disrupted at night it is often due to the type of light being used. The specific

type of light suppresses the melatonin in the brain and makes you instead feel stimulated. This

bright white light is known as, “The blue light effect.” This blue light is introduced by your

smartphones, TV screens, tablets, and laptops. “Research shows that the blue light from
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computer and device screens, when used in the evening, alters the brain’s sleep rhythms”

(Malik). This blue light is interpreted by your brain as daylight. I often find myself not being

able to sleep at night when being on my phone for a long period of time. I will lay with my eyes

closed for what feels like forever but not be able to actually go to bed. This feeling of not being

able to sleep is due to the lack of melatonin in the brain.

Along with the the negative effects of technology, it is also affecting their physical

appearance. The growing use of text messaging, social media, video games, and more is being

used as our secondary society. This causes kids to sit rather than stand. This replaces the outdoor

activities for kids and young adults. Kids now would rather sit inside and play Fortnite, then go

outside and play kickball and hide-n-seek. Sitting and writing this paper or even sitting and

reading this paper is the reason for the decline in health. (Borne). Many places today have fast

delivery and doordash with low rates, causing people to not even have to leave the comfort of

their homes to eat greasy, unhealthy food. Many people try to fix this problem by going to the

gym, but take their phones with them. By using your phone in the gym, you can get sidetracked

from the main purpose of being there; to workout. You may go to change a song and then get on

Snapchat and reply to some texts, next thing you know 20 minutes have gone by and you’ve

done nothing. Social media and technology are much of the reason for obesity due to their ability

to easily distract people. It is found that In 2007-2008 almost 17% of children and adolescents

aged 2-19 years were obese. Often it is said that Childhood obesity often tracks to adulthood and,

in the short run, childhood obesity can lead to psychosocial problems and cardiovascular risk

factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and abnormal glucose tolerance or diabetes.

(Cynthia L. Ogden, Ph.D.; Molly M. Lamb, Ph.D.; Margaret D. Carroll, M.S.P.H.; and Katherine
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M. Flegal, Ph.D.).

Fig. 1- Cynthia L. Ogden, Prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents aged 2-

19 years, by education of household head and sex: United States, 1988-1994 and 2005-2008.

The amount of screen time also affects kids emotional health. Emotional health is

described as, “ a positive state of wellbeing which enables an individual to be able to function in

society and meet the demands of everyday life” (Peterson). Without emotional health children

would not be able to be resilient; or be able to bounce back from setbacks in their everyday lives.

Without being able to bounce back from the major setbacks in life like breakups, death, and

illness, we would all be suffering. Being able to be resilient allows us to be happy and live a

good life. Growing up you have to learn how to control or regulate yourself during important

times. “Self-regulation is broken down into three categories; cognitive, emotional, and

physiological.” (Mintz). Each of these help develops, with age, focus, the ability to keep calm

and manage their behaviors and actions. The advanced amount of screen time is taking children’s
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focus away from what they truly should be working on. It allows them to get distracted from

school work, chores, and other important jobs. If kids are given the option to do their school

work or text their friends, the choice is clear; they will text their friends. In young kids, it is often

noticed that when they’re in public screaming and crying, the first thing that is given to them is a

phone or tablet. When children lash out in public their parents hand them their devices in order to

keep them quiet. Thus telling kids that it is okay to lash out in public just to get what you want.

This doesn’t allow them to learn to calm themselves on their own. Once this happens the

likelihood of the child's eyes leaving that screen are slim to none. The same as if you grab your

child out of their crib every time they wake up crying in the middle of the night, they will never

learn to put themselves back to sleep.

There is more than just negative effects on kids due to their amount of screen time. In today’s

world screens are used as a learning tool. There are many apps that teach kids how to read, write,

and even identify shapes, colors, and animals. Teenagers use their screens as tools for school

projects and everyday homework. Before technology teachers and students relied on the the

information from their brains and the books provided in the library. They were often limited to

only one way to get to their answer or conclusion and only one totally correct answer. “In such

an environment where we can use our advanced technology, educators can encourage a diversity

of outcomes rather than insisting on one right answer.” (Schrum). This allows students and

teachers to both learn something new everyday and to further help advance or education. There

are often many ways to get the correct answer to a question or equation. The internet allows

students to experiment different ways and inform others of their findings. By finding new ways

to do a problem, kids are often finding new ways to understand what they’re learning in a way

that helps them better and easily understand their topic.


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As technology becomes more and more relevant, it also becomes harder to escape it. It is

becoming inevitable that you have to learn how to use it to it’s best ability for your benefit. For

the sake of the paper let's talk about 10 of the benefits of using the technology. All 10 of these

are benefits for children and young adults: (1) allows for better hand-eye coordination, (2)

improves language skills, (3) promotes school readiness and cognitive skills, (4) causes a higher

capacity for visual attention, (5) enhances social interaction skills, (6) increases motivation to

complete tasks, (7) more dynamic spatial skills, (8) develops problem solving skills, (9) expands

horizons, (10) develops skills and talents.

It is very important to provide restrictions to our children's technology usage for their

physical, mental, and emotional health. This may be a challenge in this day in age but it’s what's

best for their development. This day in age, technology is more advanced than ever. Children are

required to do homework and self-teach themselves on everyday tasks. It is inevitable that the

solution to every problem can be solved by a simple search on the internet or by simply handing

a child a smart device. Technology provides an easy way out, a quick fix. We hand our children

smart devices in hopes that it gets them to act in a way that is acceptable for the public. It gives

us a answers faster than we could even ask the question. Without these devices would kids be

able to function properly? Children are taught that the simplest way to get the answers they want

is to, look it up.” We are sacrificing our kids physical, mental, and emotional health for easy

entertainment and simple answers. It is important that we get ahead of the problem and fix it,

fast. If parents start to reward their kids with their devices instead of just handing it to them

whenever, it would allow their kids to regulate themselves and understand that they don;t need

their devices for success. Although technology isn't a disease, it can act as an addiction, and

needs to be treated like one. Technology is unlike a true addiction to substances where in order to
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help yourself you must completely cut it out of your life. In this day in age, cutting technology

from your life completely is nearly impossible. Technology surrounds you in every aspect of

your life. It’s involved in school, sports, work, and everyday activities; it is a way of life. But

much like an addiction, you can limit technology in a way that is good for both the mind and the

body. The body and mind are extraordinarily great in how they work together. If kids were to

take more of their screen time out of their day it would allow them to teach themselves certain

tasks rather than looking for the direct answer. This would make kids learn to know how to do

both the short and long way of many tasks. An example of this would be in math. Yes, you can

use your calculator to do division, but what if we didn’t have calculators? How would you figure

out 386/4? Well before calculators kids were taught long division. Now if kids today knew how

to do division, on their calculators and without, they could face real life situations with no

problem. Many kids in today’s generation will choose to take the easy road out if available, but if

they’re not given the option to, then they will be forced to take the alternate route.

Although technology can cause great damage to a child’s physical, mental, and emotional

health, it also has brought a whole new meaning to life that we may or may not have figured out

as humans without it. With it we have made many different scientific discoveries all over the

world and in space. Kids are now able to determine things like the speed of light and the number

of atoms in a object. It allows kids to broaden their horizons and branch out into things that they

may not have been able to before. With the restriction of screen time it may not be all that bad

for kids to use. It’s up to the parents, educators, and children to decide when enough is enough

for their own health.


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Fig. 2- Caileigh Flannigan, How too Much Screen Time Affects Children, Nov. 28, 2017

Works Cited

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www.mybariatriclife.org/are-cell-phones-a-health-and-obesity-risk/.

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Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 16 Nov. 2018, www.britannica.com/science/melatonin.

Children's Hospital. “How Too Much Screen Time Affects Kids' Eyes.” Children's

Hospital of Philadelphia, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 6 Dec. 2018,

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