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Effects Of Screens

Found in: Leadership Blog

The Monday before school started, all of our staff gathered together for a professional development day. That day had two very relevant elements.

In the morning, Helen Weymouth came to speak to us. Helen works here in Mundaring as a psychologist, specialising in children and teenagers. In the afternoon, Dr Perso did a workshop on C21st capabilities. We will speak more about this later.

I had asked Helen to speak to us about the issues that she thought were most pertinent to children and teenagers, here in the hills. Helen has spoken to us previously on the issue of teenage anxiety. Interestingly, Helen chose two topics: recapping the issue of anxiety and introducing the impact of screen time on childrens’ development.

What Helen had researched and her experience with our kids is quite chilling. Here are some highlights from her presentation:

Screen time has been linked to an increase of academic problems in children – long term academic failure, negative attitude toward school, poor academic achievement, and poor homework completion.

Neurophysiological effects

  • White brain matter abnormalities
  • Loss of communication within brain areas, across brain areas, and across brain-body.
  • Atrophy in the grey matter.
  • Impaired cognitive functioning – less efficient processing, planning, prioritising, organising, impulse control, empathy, compassion, personal relationships.

Social behavioural effects

  • (Gaming):Positively correlated to aggressive behaviour and a decrease in pro-social behaviour.
  • (Gaming): Children may be getting the message that aggression is the normal response to stress, and that it’s an acceptable option when faced with conflict;  also if success is experienced through aggression then it is reinforced as being effective.

Screen-time has a Negative Relationship to social-emotional functioning:

  • Increased risk of psychological problems such as anxiety and depression.
  • Relationship between increased screen time and depression  - a close response relationship was indicated.
  • Social networking is confined to devices and children are spending more time alone and separated from others which impacts on peer relationships and the important face-to-face interactions such as outdoor play, conversations, creativity, problem solving, reading, exercise.
  • The average for Australian young people is 7.5 hours of screen time per day. This is not including educational use of technology.
  • These are the recommended times:
  • 0-2 years            no television or any screen time in any form
  • 2-5 years            1 hour per day
  • 5+ years              2 hours per day
  • Never alone in bedrooms

We had been babysitting my 6-month-old granddaughter, Rya, the previous weekend. I had let her play with my mobile phone. She mainly sucked and shook it, but you could tell that she knew she could manipulate images by swiping. Imagine how guilty I felt after hearing Helen. ☹

I sent Helen’s presentation to Rya’s mum and dad.

New regime with Rya now:


Mr Rod McNeill