Children are thoroughly glued to screens, and the parents who helped drive this technological revolution at companies such as Facebook, YouTube, and Google report feeling guilty about the monster they have created, according to The New York Times. Now, these tech experts are sounding the alarm about the dangers of screen time.
“On the scale between candy and crack cocaine, it’s closer to crack cocaine,” said Chris Anderson, a former editor at Wired and the founder of GeekDad.com. “This is going straight to the pleasure centers of the developing brain,” he told the Times.
Athena Chavarria, a former Facebook employee who still works at Facebook in a philanthropic capacity, says that she lives by a simple credo: “the last child in the class to get a phone wins.” The longer parents can delay their kids getting hooked on screens, she opines, the better. As journalist Nellie Bowles puts it: “Some of the people who built video programs are now horrified by how many places a child can now watch a video.”
That parents are concerned is clear—whether there is merit to their concern, less so. While studies suggest that excessive screen time is linked to a host of health problems, including obesity, the science is far from settled. For instance, Andrew Przybylski of the Oxford Internet Institute recently said: “There is little or no support for the theory that digital screen use, on its own, is bad for young children’s psychological well being.”
Even if the hard science on screen time shouldn’t worry parents too much (keeping it down to 30 minutes per day is almost certainly fine) it is jarring to hear the voices behind the rise of screens now mourning their impact. “I am convinced the devil lives in our phones and is wreaking havoc on our children,” Chavarria said. And at least some techies say the only solution is cutting their creations out of their children’s lives, altogether.
“Doing no screen time is almost easier than doing a little,” Kristin Stecher (who is married to a Facebook engineer) told the Times. And it’s hard to argue with that.