Beware the Light!! Youngsters at Risk Online!!

Image of vivid painting by Dublin Artist, Neil Douglas, at Courtesy of the Artist.


Beware the Light!!

Youngsters at Risk Online!! 



10 December 2017



Iseult Catherine O'Brien

Montessori Teacher & Supervisor  |  Volunteer Tutor with Second Level Students  |  

A Member of The Tutors' Association







I have been banging on for a few years now about the dangers of over-use, and prolonged late night use, of blue light emitting devices, and the damage caused to young people's health, academic achievements, long-term memory problems, plus the difficulties that follow from not being able to live up to their own and their families' expectations.


This worry has been compounded by the growing evidence I've seen around me, have overheard in conversation, and from people I know who work with young people, that online gambling has got to an extremely dangerous level  with young people - and with children also involved.

One has to wonder how children can afford such a habit?


Much worse in many ways, to the detriment of mostly young men, is how they may come to view and compare themselves, and other young people, as a consequence of now frequent visits by quite a number of 13-17 year old boys / young men to porn sites. 


This is a very warped way to learn about personal relationships.


The view received by them of women and girls, and their personal integrity, is likely to cause confusion, at the very least, in the real world, and certainly likely to cause great offence, and possibly violent incidents. 


I knew Richie Sadlier was due to start a monthly Column in the Health Section of The Irish Times.  The headline below could not have been more timely, and the article is a must-read for all parents, guardians, and carers (GPCs), teachers, and anyone who works with young people, or who happens to be in their company regularly.



"Richie Sadlier: Talking with teenage boys about porn, drink and suicide

The psychotherapist and former pro soccer player kicks off a new monthly health column in The Irish Times."   Go to, to find his Column; he is also available on Facebook and Twitter.


For anyone to be able to tap into Mr Sadlier's experiences working with teenage boys and young men, and in their talking frankly about subjects they may have found difficult in the past, will be a gift.  Having watched him play, and as a football pundit, he's a man who considers.  This is exactly what young men need, and young women also.






I found the following on the Site, Teacher Training and Education, on LinkedIn; introduced by Adrian Sladdin, Director of Education at Young Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM), it gives very helpful information for families which can be found at the address


The details and help with the real and widespread problem of our youngsters and young people gambling is available at the end of this Post.  We need to make sure our information is local to us.







Televisions, Computers, Laptops, iPads, 

Kindles, Smartphones, Tablets, 

Mobiles / Cell phones, etc


Below, I list and give  brief outline of studies, digests of reports, and the key findings of some reports.  I have been discussing these matters for some time.  I'm glad to be able to give outlines of some work, one in full, plus links to everything I've been able to find.  I hope that this can be a two-way communication, for the welfare of many, if you know of current studies or anything just publised, I should be keen and grateful to hear about them.




The Evidence is mounting: please see the digest of the Study


"Decline in Teen Mental Health Attributed to Late Night Stimulation"


By Dr Ramesh Manocha

Links to the Study are given under the Section below.




Screen time: What’s happening in our homes?

Please see the important findings of the above titled Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, Australian Child Health Poll of 21 June 2017.

Some of the Key Findings are listed at the end of this Post.








A full Generation Next article is quoted below, which gives a fascinating insight on personal development, experiencing emotions, and giving space to both, in a world full of people using their devices.





Please See LUKE Culhane's video on YouTube entitled

'Cyber Bullying: Create No Hate' 

which went viral.  Luke's video recounts his own experience of being bullied on-line. 


Every PGC, and teacher, needs to make themselves knowledgeable about this pernicious type of bullying.  PGCs have to take on the responsibility of learning about cyber-bullying, and  then make sure their offspring also know about it, and know they should tell as soon as anything nasty happens on-line. 


Please see below.







The BLUE-VIOLET LIGHT which helps us wake naturally, and which is responsible for the increased mental activity in daylight hours in Spring and Summer, and which is beneficial in concentrating on work and study, can also cause us problems.   Now, we are looking at dark mornings and long dark evenings, with few hours of daylight. We get most of our Vitamin D from sunlight, and many people are unaware that they should use a supplement during the dark days.




If, on a regular basis, you are staying late at work, college, or school, to work on a computer, or are bringing work home to be done on a personal computer, you are running the risk of upsetting your sleep pattern, causing exhaustion and, possibly, long-term sleep deprivation.


IT IS NECESSARY to make a conscious effort to blink at speed and at frequent intervals while using a computer, as we actually blink less frequently while looking at a screen.   Using an intensive lubricating eye care product, which is both phosphate and preservative-free, is helpful for avoiding dry, itchy eyes

'Dry eye' is a frequent itchy and irritating result of prolonged computer use.


If you bring computer-based work home, be it work from the office, school or college essays or research; correcting students' homework or grading; there can be a notion that working surrounded by one's own things, is working in a more relaxed environment and, so, is less stressful.


However, we fool ourselves!


Some evenings, work is spasmodic due to continual interruptions; sometimes, we get distracted by household chores, and start the work much later than intended.


IN HOPEFULNESS, we may plan to work for a specific period of time, at the end of which we shall cease, finished or not.  That is never how it works out!   We work hour after hour, with the comfort in the back of the mind that the bed is close by.  Unfortunately, frequently, we realize suddenly it is 2.00 am or 3.00 am, or later.  Panic stations! ~ save the work on the computer, brush the teeth, into bed pronto!


Then, one lies in bed - in the dark and quiet, tossing and turning, growing more frustrated, the head is racing, and there is no way of relaxing.  This can become distressing if it happens on a regular basis.


AWAY FROM THE GLARE of the screen, at a minimum, it will take at least ONE FULL HOUR for the synapses in the brain to quieten down sufficiently to be able to relax and, eventually, hopefully, to sleep.


Getting into such a habit can lead to chronic exhaustion, making one less efficient, and so perpetuating the unhealthy practise.


This situation, if not dealt with, can lead to a considerable period of time off work, or off school / college, for stress related illnesses, becoming seriously run down, and exhausted due to sleep deprivation.








Even though we are near the end of the first and longest term of the academic year, many PGCs are surprized that although their students are back in education for quite some time, and they still need support getting into a good sleep / life balance, in order that they can work to their optimum, and care for their mental and physical health.


After a Summer of texting friends, rather than going out to meet up with a group of friends, and have a good chat, all together, some young people will find being surrounded by classmates, and many other people, surprizingly difficult.


All of us who have family living very far away are conscious of how much easier communication is nowadays with Skype, the internet and other facilities and platforms, compared to what it was like for families, even twenty years ago.  However, grandparents will still say, although it is lovely to hear the children's voices, and see their faces, it is JUST NOT the same as HUMAN CONTACT.


People lose a great deal of the subtleties of communication, when the micro-gestures, and 'tells' are lost while using electronic devices.  We miss the little wince that may indicate a friend is unhappy or worried.  We cannot take someone's hand and ask what's happening.


People who got out of the habit of meeting up with friends or visiting family easily and frequently, may find it especially difficult to get back in the situation of being among large groups of people.  This isolation from ones friends, and the world in general, can very happen quickly, and it is not easy to overcome.   Some people find going out the front door a great problem, and will change clothes a few times, anything to avoid going out the door.


PEOPLE ARE VERY SOCIAL ANIMALS.  We are hardwired to gather in groups, and we are tactile.  If we have not seen friends for a while, we will have missed out on many of the little strengthenings of connections that are constantly renewed when meeting up or visiting.  QUITE QUICKLY, we can become nervous of going out, replying only on email, calls, and text, to keep up communications.  These are fine for short term communication ~ but THEY DO NOT fill the gap we need filled by SOCIAL INTERACTION WITH OTHER PEOPLE.


If young people get into the habit of watching downloads or gaming during school holidays for long periods, and getting back into the rhythm of rising on time to get to school on time, can be AN EXTREMELY DIFFICULT problem to overcome.   If they didn't get back into a sleeping regime before starting back, it can be done, but it is not easy.  Young people can get quite cranky as they are trying to work and manage on too little sleep while their proper balance is being sought.  The brain does not mature until around 25 years, up to 30 years of age.  To develop fully, the brain requires good quality, sustained, sleep. 

This is a simple fact that cannot be denied, no matter how people may wish to.


In children and young people, that means nine to ten hours sleep a night.


As I have been told by teachers / tutors at all levels, youngsters and young people frequently arrive in school / college / university, take off the coat, sit at the desk, and promptly fall asleep.


These children and young people are seriously sleep-deprived.


OFTEN, their families are unaware of nighttime activities.  If a young person waits until everyone goes to bed, and then turns on his or her devices, there would not be anyone to see a possible tell-tale light shining from under the bedroom door.


OFTEN, it only comes to light during breaks from school or college, when they are asleep all day, and awake all night.


GAMING is very popular, especially with boys and young men.  Once a serious game starts, all notion of time is lostthe game is everything.


GAMBLING online has become a VERY DANGEROUS pastime for many youngsters, and even children.   

One has to wonder how a child could afford such a habit.


It can become a habit quickly.   The incorrect date of birth entered, making one seem over 18 or 21 years, depending on the Rules of the online gambling company, and youngsters are free to gamble. I have yet to hear of an online gambling company check back fully to ensure that their new customer is indeed of an age to gamble legally, and is the legal holder of the credit card being used.

Who is legally responsible for the possibly colossal credit card bills of under-age gamblers?   Guess!!


Young people and down to quite young children, frequently have many electronic devices in their bedrooms.  Young people and teenagers may be watching television, DVDs, YouTube, sports coverage, downloads, and gaming. 


Inadvertently, anyone can find themselves on a sordid, sex site.


These sites are not how we want our young people to learn about sex.  Porn sites are being used more by young men, and early to mid teens, on a regular basis.


They are learning a very warped idea of relationships.


Young children may be viewing cartoons, frequently as a type of electronic 'bedtime story'; what else are they watching? 


DO PGCs KNOW just how many hours daily their children spend on their computers or using smart phones?


ARE THEY AWARE of the possible serious negative health consequences?





Safe Kids, Strong Families |


Teen watching TV | Striking the Technology 

 Balance: How Much TV is Too Much?


A recent study by the American Academy of Paediatrics shows that increasing consumption of digital media by children could be having a negative impact on their development.


Please see the rest of this article near the end of this Post.






Dark mornings and evenings can be masked by high levels of light in the home.  PGCs need to look to lowering light levels as the evening comes on, reducing them to side lamps in main family rooms.   If children and young people don't start feeling tired, and naturally ready for sleep, their body-clock is thrown awry.   Darker rooms help the natural inclination to sleep.   Sufficient sleep is imperative for children, youngsters, and everyone.


CHILDREN DO THEIR GROWING DURING SLEEP, and their bones continue to develop.  It is understood that 90 PER CENT OF BONE GROWTH TAKES PLACE DURING SLEEP. 


NINE TO TEN HOURS of good quality, SUSTAINED, sleep give a child, youngster, teenager, and young person adequate rest.   This is the necessary amount of sleep for physical and mental well-being.  The human growth hormone is released during this time, resulting in growth spurts.  


SLEEP IS ESSENTIAL for the body to rest, and adequate rest means better physical growth.



immune system; 

brain development;



and information processing; 

as well as many other systems of the brain  and the body. 


THIS APPLIES TO EVERYONE, from a child to an older person.







HAVE PGCs made themselves aware of the ubiquitous nature of cyber-bullying, and how extremely damaging it is to any child, young person, or adult? 

Go to for advice for PGCs, teachers, and anyone who should make him or herself knowledgeable on cyber-bullying. 


PGCs cannot leave this job to teachers and the school. 


Your children's and young people's welfare have to be your priority - please take this issue seriously.  Young people can become isolated, may self-harm and, in some cases, take their lives. 


Some truly cannot live with the constant bullying.





LUKE Culhane (then 13), from Limerick, Ireland, created a video entitled

 'Cyber Bullying: Create No Hate' 

which went viral on YouTube.  Luke's video recounts his own experience of being bullied online. 




Luke was named the 2016 "child of the year" / 'l'enfant de l'année 2016', by French newspaper 'Mon Quotidien' for standing up to cyber-bulling.


Cyber-bullying can happen to anyone on a seemingly random basis.  Frequently, young people keep it to themselves ~ they do not tell PGCs and, often, not even their best friends.  The results of this COWARDLY bullying can be appalling for everyone in the family, not just the selected victim. 


PGCs REALLY NEED to find out about this pernicious activity; when they have informed themselves, they will have a better idea what to look out for in their young people and children.


A conversation on the whole topic, at the dinner table, with everyone present, would make the subject easier for everyone to ask about, and talk about.  Show Luke's YouTube video, even young children will be able to understand its message, and it would be a good starting point for your conversation.







Breaks from school or college are frequently the times when PGCs realize they are living with a creature who does not come out of the bedroom in daylight hours, except for raids on the 'fridge.  They realize that this is more than just a teenager needing lots of sleep.


IT IS UNDERSTANDABLE that even when PGCs realize the consequences of their children's late and prolonged use of electronic devices, they have a problem facing up to the glaringly OBVIOUS SOLUTION.


ONCE IT IS DISCOVERED that a young person is over-using electronic devices to the detriment of his / her mental and physical health, relationships and friendships, and his or her wake / sleep balance, something must be done.  If the transition to sleeping nine to ten hours nightly was not made in the last weeks of holidays, young people may still be finding it difficult to manage study and other activities.   It may take longer than anyone expects to break the habit of being awake a good deal of the night with electronic devices, and sleeping through most of the following day.


PGCs MIGHT HAVE TO make some very unwelcome and drastic decisions which may cause serious friction, in the short to mid-term. 


PERHAPS, having conversations with the PGCs of your children's close friends, to discuss the problem, to try to present a united front, giving PGCs mutual support.   PLUS, the youngsters will see it is not just their  parents BEING REALLY MEAN!


START BY EXPLAINING that this is a HEALTH and MENTAL WELFARE matter, you are not trying to ruin the youngster's life, FOREVER!



[START your RESEARCH with the details of and Links for Studies on the deleterious mental and physical health consequences of over-use and late night use of blue-light emitting electronic devices.  Please see the last Sections of this Post for more details of some Studies.  Please see the last Sections of this Post for more details of some Studies, which can be the basis of your explanations and descriptions.  It has to be better to share information than to seem to be forcing youngsters etc, to listen to a lecture.]


A television in a common room, or in a bedroom, should not be turned on as younger children come in from early childhood education, or as older siblings arrive home from school or college.   Making sure the television is not on, and turning it off if turned on, is one very important, simple, way to start making sure your offspring are not over-loaded with blue-violet light emissions.

It also enables conversations on how the day has gone, much easier to have, when not competing with the noise and distraction of a television.


For their welfare's sake, teenagers and younger, SHOULD NOT have a television iPad, smart phone, Kindle, Tablet, or any type of mobile / cell phone on in their bedrooms, after approximately 7.30 - 9.00 pm, depending on age.  

There are Rules under the The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), (those under 18 years of age), entitling young people to degrees of autonomy.   Currently, there is a discussion on how much right a parent has to take a mobile / cell phone from a teenager.   The discussion is usually based around the idea that those of 15-16 years are entitled to the use and possession of their mobile / cell phone at any time.  There are arguments that young people of 13 years are equally entitled.

I know that the reaction from youngsters and teenagers shall be VERY LOUD, and VERY, VERY, UNHAPPY. 


NO PARENT WANTS TO BE A BADDIE, and the children / youngsters WILL ARGUE OVER AND OVER, that ALL THEIR FRIENDS are allowed to have all these devices in their bedrooms, night and day.


However, Difficult Choices Require to be Made Now!


Studying on a laptop in the relative quiet of a bedroom is a good habit, but only in conjunction with reference to actual books, real dictionaries, thesauruses, and the deep reading of novels, sciences, poetry, sci-fi, histories, biographies.  We must encourage and retain our own intellectual 'omnivorism'.


However, the laptop, and all its electronic relatives, shall have to be removed from the bedroom at 7.30 pm to 9.00 pm, depending on the ages of the young people, at the discretion of the PGCs.


Having finished study, young people WILL HAVE TO turn their computer off at least 90 minutes before bedtime.  Apart from saving the work, they shall then need to BRING ALL DEVICES down to a common room where they can be checked off, TO ENSURE ALL DEVICES ARE ACCOUNTED FOR, while bearing in mind the rights of young people.


GENERALLY SPEAKING, most young people get a limited number of chances for primary and second level schooling.  If they are chronically exhausted due to inappropriate and overuse of electronic devices, THEIR PERFORMANCE IN SCHOOL WILL SUFFER negatively and significantly.


*     Eighty-five per cent of parents of young children (aged less than 6 years) said they used screen-based devices to occupy their kids so they could get things done with one in four doing this every day of the week.


*     Teenagers spend the most amount of time on a screen-based device at home, of any age group, at almost 44 hours on average per week – more than the time equivalent of a full time job. Parents averaged almost 40 hours per week. ++


"Not only was educational performance hindered.  Important social skills were also diminished", says Lynette Vernon, lead researcher of this study at Murdoch University in Perth:


"The outcomes of not coping – lower self-esteem, feeling moody, externalising behaviours and less self-regulation, aggressive and delinquent behaviours – the levels increase as sleep problems increased." * *


See this Study in full below. 



 We Have to Take Seriously the Well-Documented Difficulties Students Encounter in these Circumstances.


YOUNG PEOPLE DO NOT reach their optimum potential at second level schooling, and this has consequences for the possibility of winning a place in a college or university, or following whatever dreams they have. 


THERE ARE NEGATIVE SIDE EFFECTS for young people of becoming ISOLATED from a social life, if they spend a great deal of their spare time online gaming, gambling, or on X-Box.


VERY IMPORTANT ~ Children and young people NEED three hours of physical activity daily for fitness sake, and also for psychological well-being.



The pink and purple highlighting above was added by me.



'Our minds can be hijacked' : the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia.

Please see this Guardian report by Paul Lewis in the last Section of this Post.


"There is growing concern that as well as addicting users, technology is contributing toward so-called “continuous partial attention”, severely limiting people’s ability to focus, and possibly lowering IQ."

The industry insiders who often designed the software, are restricting their own use of smartphones, etc. 

See more below ...



The red highlighting above was added by me.





I include below a complete article by Generation Next, which give a fascinating insight on personal development, experiencing emotions, and giving space to both, in a world of people using their devices.  What example are adults giving younger people?


'Generation Next'

- Aziza Seykota

Parents can often find themselves more distracted by their devices than their teens.  This is especially true during the slow moments throughout our day.   Slow moments are those moments where you can be with your thoughts and feelings, instead of pulling out your phone to check email, read the news, or scroll through your Facebook feed.


By habitually reaching for our devices during these moments of solitude, we miss out on valuable opportunities to know ourselves better. 


And you are modelling your teens’ relationship with technology by your own relationship with technology.


So What Can we Do?

Small changes towards being more mindful of your relationship with technology can improve the satisfaction and quality of your life as well as in your teens.


Being Mindful can be as simple as focusing on your breath, noticing the sounds, smells, or what is going on in your body.   Being Mindful allows us to more clearly see the world around us, reduces stress levels, and develops resilience to deal with life’s difficult moments.  


And by practising Mindfulness we become better Digital Mentors, modelling for our children how to give space to our inner experience, which ultimately leads to healthier relationships with others.


The Satisfactions of Solitude

First, it’s important to remember that we are all in this together.   We live in a culture where a veil of productivity and successful “multi-tasking” is celebrated, and the draw of social connection through texting and online is hard to ignore.


As Markham Heid explains in his article for TIME, “Combine the sudden beep with the implicit promise of new social info, and you have a near-perfect, ignorable stimulus that will pull your focus away from whatever task your brain is working on”.


But in this attention economy, it is important to take time to slow down and be present with our own thoughts, without reaching for the distraction of technology.   MIT researcher, Sherry Turkle, says that these moments of solitude allow us to know ourselves better, which is an important part of having fulfilling relationships with others.  In Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, she says, “If we don’t have experience with solitude – and this is often the case today – we start to equate loneliness and solitude.   This reflects the impoverishment of our experience.  If we don’t know the satisfactions of solitude, we only know the panic of loneliness”.


In today’s hyper-connected world, Turkle says “if we don’t teach our children how to be comfortable being alone, they will learn to be lonely and rely on the distraction of technology.  Part of your role as an Emotion Coach and Digital Mentor is to model the importance of slow moments and to create space for difficult or uncomfortable emotions”.


Experiencing your Emotions

Sometimes uncomfortable emotions will rise to the surface in these moments of solitude.   Reaching for our devices when these emotions come up prevents us from experiencing the richness of the full human experience.   As comedian Louis CK explained during an interview on smartphones, “Because we don’t want that first bit of sad, we push it away.  [But] you never feel completely sad or completely happy, you just feel kinda satisfied with your product.”

Read more: Mindful Parenting: How to Raise Kind and Conscious Teens | Generation Next | July 10, 2017 at 3:36 pm | URL:



The coloured highlighting above was added by me.





I know it's Scary, but it's Serious Scary,

and we Need to Face our Responsibilities.



Very Best of Luck!

Regards, Iseult

Iseult Catherine O'Brien



If you see any errors, typographical or factual, or if you disagree with any of my ideas, I should be very glad to hear from you.


This website,"Education Matters", is where I start my Posts on many subjects in relation to children and young people, their well-being and welfare, their right to personal integrity, including their right, and the right of all, to a good education. 


I am an elected Member of The Tutors' Association.


Thanks to Dublin artist, Neil Douglas, at, for kindly letting me use a copy of his vivid, vibrant, painting.







If I quote a person, group, organisation, or establishment, I do my very best to source the material quoted, and to attribute it properly.  If I cannot satisfy myself I have found the author or speaker who voiced a quote, I resist using it, no matter how tasty a bite! If I refer in passing to views expressed by others, I attribute the views even if they have not been given verbatim in the text.


I work on a basis of goodwill and good intentions.  I shall make errors, being human, and when I do, I apologise now, and should always welcome a correction, which I would insert in the relevant Post prominently, in clear unambiguous text and type, repeating the apology.  That's the best I can do!







Decline in Teen Mental Health Attributed to Late Night Stimulation * *


By Dr Ramesh Manocha


The neurological dangers implicated in overusing our devices are well-established.  From the incessant cognitive itching to allay novelty bias to a consistent uptick in distracted driving accidents and deaths to the circadian chaos of excessive blue light, our memory and attention are not the only skills being affected.  While no long-term studies have traced these issues from childhood through adulthood – yet - one simple fact is inarguable: too much screen time is not healthy.


Now a longitudinal study of over an eleven hundred high school students in Australia has revealed another disturbing aspect of technology addiction: a decline in mental health.


Poor sleep due to late-night calling and texting is the culprit.  The group of thirteen to sixteen year-olds saw a stark decrease in performance over a four-year period, from 2010-2013.  While previous research has linked the blue light emitted from phones to poor sleep, and sleep is necessary for optimal health and emotional regulation, this Study is considered the first to link all three, even though anecdotally teachers have noticed increasing sluggishness in their students for years.


"Not only was educational performance hindered.  Important social skills were also diminished", says Lynette Vernon, lead researcher of this study at Murdoch University in Perth:

The outcomes of not coping – lower self-esteem, feeling moody, externalising behaviours and less self-regulation, aggressive and delinquent behaviours – the levels increase as sleep problems increased.


It’s not only the light affecting students, Vernon observes.  Cognitive arousal when receiving a text or social media like also keeps the receiver primed for furtherreaction at a time when their body and mind should be winding down.  Instead of drifting to sleep their brain remains on alert for the next ding.

- Derek Beres



The red highlighting above was added by me.



A download from 'Generation Next'.

Read More: Decline in Teen Mental Health Attributed to Late Night Stimulation

Dr Ramesh Manocha | July 10, 2017 at 3:33 pm | Tags: late night texting | Categories: Uncategorized | URL:






Screen time: What’s happening in our homes?

The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, Australian Child Health Poll of 21 June 2017.



The Director of the Australian Child Health Poll, Paediatrician, Dr Anthea Rhodes, said one of the most significant findings, that directly affected children’s health, was the impact of screen use at bedtime on sleep.


“Almost half of children regularly use screen-based devices at bedtime, with one in four children reporting associated sleep problems.  Teenagers using screens routinely at bedtime were also more likely to report experiencing online bullying. It’s best to have no screen-time an hour before bed and keep screens out of the bedroom, to ensure a better quality of sleep,” she said.


"The poll also reveals that 50 per cent of toddlers and preschoolers are using a screen-based device without supervision.


“The demands of the modern lifestyle mean a lot of parents are busy, so they use screen use as a digital babysitter.   We found that 85 per cent of parents of young children say they use screens to occupy their kids so they can get things done.”  Dr Rhodes said.


“There is little evidence to support the idea that screen use benefits the development of infants and toddlers, but physical playtime and face-to-face contact is proven to be critical to a child’s development.  If you do offer screen time to your young child, it’s better if you watch it with them, so you can talk together about what they are seeing and help children to learn from the experience.”


When it comes to what’s happening in Australian households, Dr Rhodes said that many families are experiencing conflict over screen use and that a lack ofphysical activity and excessive use are big concerns to parents.


Dr Rhodes adds that the poll identified a link between parents’ screen use and their children’s use of screens.


“A strong relationship was seen between parents’ screen use and that of their children.  Basically, a parent who has high levels of screen use is more likely to have a child with high levels of use.  Three quarters of parents of children under six also said they do not put time limits on screen use.


"However, most parents told us that they do try to limit their children’s screen use but are not sure how to do this effectively,” she said.


The current Australian guidelines for screen use in children were last updated in 2014, but Dr Rhodes says new guidelines may go some way in helping parents with their children’s screen use.


“These were developed before the widespread use of mobile screen devices.  Up-to-date guidelines and resources for parents, and healthcare workers, would give parents a base for developing healthy habits when it comes to screen use,” she said.


++  The Australian Child Health Poll overall key findings include the following.


*   The majority of Australian children, across all age groups, are exceeding the current national recommended guidelines for screen time.


*      Eighty-five per cent of parents of young children (aged less than 6 years) said they used screen-based devices to occupy their kids so they could get things done with one in four doing this every day of the week.


*    Teenagers spend the most amount of time on a screen-based device at home, of any age group, at almost 44 hours on average per week – more than the time equivalent of a full time job.   Parents averaged almost 40 hours per week.


*   Younger children also spend a significant time using screens at home; infants and toddlers averaged 14 hours, the two to five year-olds 26 hours, and the six to 12-year age group averaged 32 hours per week.


Note:  "A screen-based device in this poll was defined as a television, computer, laptop, gaming console, iPhone, smartphone, iPad and other tablet."






Safe Kids, Strong Families |


Teen watching TV | Striking the Technology Balance: How Much TV is Too Much?


A recent study by the American Academy of Paediatrics shows that increasing consumption of digital media by children could be having a negative impact on their development.


How much TV is too much?

These days, technology is hard to avoid.  Smartphones have made it so that a full library of videos, games and other digital content is available for use anytime, anywhere at the flick of a finger.  The pervasiveness of the Internet, TV, computer and video games in our daily lives also means that technology is competing for our children’s attention at younger and younger ages.  In the United States, the average infant starts watching TV at only 5 months old and 82% of children will go online before they enter the 7th grade.


While technology can be a powerful learning tool for children, when used in excess it can actually have a negative impact on a child’s development.  Multiple studies have shown that infants exposed to two or more hours of screen time before their first birthday makes them six times more likely to experience poor language development.  Studies have also linked excessive television watching in children with a higher likelihood developing cognitive and social / emotional delays, obesity, and sleep disorders.


Children using a phone unsupervised

This isn’t to say that parents should get rid of their TVs, smart phones and tablets.  Well-constructed educational programming or apps can be great learning aids for young children.  Sesame Street, for example, has been shown to have a positive impact on the cognitive, literary and social development of 3- to 5-year-olds.  The real challenge for parents is to find programming that truly is useful and educational, and also to strike just the right balance of screen time for their child.  Knowing where to draw that line isn’t always easy, but parents can start to find that balance by being more mindful of the kind / quantity of digital media their child(ren) is exposed to and coming up with a family media plan that dictates when and how technology will be used at home.


Here are FIVE things to consider when you are coming up with a media plan for your family

Stay Involved.    Whenever possible, try not to let your child spend their screen time alone.  Watch an episode of your child’s favourite programme with them or play with apps together.  Engaging with your child about the media they consume will help them better understand what they are seeing and learning, and how that applies to the world around them.


Be Picky  Always make sure that you are choosing the highest-quality educational programming possible.  Closely monitor the content your child(ren) is / are consuming and be sure to thoroughly test / research apps before you allow your kid(s) to download them!


Set Limits.   According to the American Academy of Paediatrics, you should avoid using digital media with children 18-24 months old.  For children aged 2 to 5, the American Academy of Paediatrics recommends limiting screen time to 1 hour per day.


Power Down.   Always turn off all devices at least ONE hour before bedtime to help your child “wind down” before sleep.  Turn off the auto-play setting on your video players (Netflix, Hulu, etc) to prevent mindless “binge-watching”.  When you’ve finished using your devices get into the habit of turning them off completely and putting them away.


Emphasize Family Time.   Designate certain times or activities as “device free” and use that time to connect as a family.  For example, make a rule that no devices can be used during family dinners, etc.





The coloured highlighting above was added by me.




'Our minds can be hijacked', Guardian article by Paul Lewis.


'Our minds can be hijacked' : the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia.


By Paul Lewis in San Francisco


'The Guardian', Weekend magazine technology special

Friday 6 October 2017 06.00 BST

Last modified on Monday 9 October 2017 20.23 BST


Google, Twitter and Facebook workers who helped make technology so addictive are disconnecting themselves from the internet.   Paul Lewis reports on the Silicon Valley refuseniks alarmed by a race for human attention.


Justin Rosenstein had tweaked his laptop’s operating system to block Reddit, banned himself from Snapchat, which he compares to heroin, and imposed limits on his use of Facebook.   But even that wasn’t enough.   In August, the 34-year-old tech executive took a more radical step to restrict his use of social media and other addictive technologies.


Rosenstein purchased a new iPhone and instructed his assistant to set up a parental-control feature to prevent him from downloading any apps.


He was particularly aware of the allure of Facebook “likes”, which he describes as “bright dings of pseudo-pleasure” that can be as hollow as they are seductive.   And Rosenstein should know: he was the Facebook engineer who created the “like” button in the first place.


A decade after he stayed up all night coding a prototype of what was then called an “awesome” button, Rosenstein belongs to a small but growing band of Silicon Valley heretics who complain about the rise of the so-called “attention economy”: an internet shaped around the demands of an advertising economy.


These refuseniks are rarely founders or chief executives, who have little incentive to deviate from the mantra that their companies are making the world a better place.   Instead, they tend to have worked a rung or two down the corporate ladder: designers, engineers and product managers who, like Rosenstein, several years ago put in place the building blocks of a digital world from which they are now trying to disentangle themselves.   “It is very common,” Rosenstein says, “for humans to develop things with the best of intentions and for them to have unintended, negative consequences.”


Rosenstein, who also helped create Gchat during a stint at Google, and now leads a San Francisco-based company that improves office productivity, appears most concerned about the psychological effects on people who, research shows, touch, swipe or tap their phone 2,617 times a day.



[Young Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM), is a registered charity in Britain, and they can help -]


There is growing concern that as well as addicting users, technology is contributing toward so-called “continuous partial attention”, severely limiting people’s ability to focus, and possibly lowering IQ.   One recent study showed that the mere presence of smartphones damages cognitive capacity – even when the device is turned off.  “Everyone is distracted,” Rosenstein says.  “All of the time.”


But those concerns are trivial compared with the devastating impact upon the political system that some of Rosenstein’s peers believe can be attributed to the rise of social media and the attention-based market that drives it.


Drawing a straight line between addiction to social media and political earthquakes like Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump, they contend that digital forces have completely upended the political system and, left unchecked, could even render democracy as we know it obsolete.


In 2007, Rosenstein was one of a small group of Facebook employees who decided to create a path of least resistance – a single click – to “send little bits of positivity” across the platform.  Facebook’s “like” feature was, Rosenstein says, “wildly” successful: engagement soared as people enjoyed the short-term boost they got from giving or receiving social affirmation, while Facebook harvested valuable data about the preferences of users that could be sold to advertisers.  The idea was soon copied by Twitter, with its heart-shaped “likes” (previously star-shaped “favourites”), Instagram, and countless other apps and websites.


It was Rosenstein’s colleague, Leah Pearlman, then a product manager at Facebook and on the team that created the Facebook “like”, who announced the feature in a 2009 blogpost.   Now 35 and an illustrator, Pearlman confirmed via email that she, too, has grown disaffected with Facebook “likes” and other addictive feedback loops.  She has installed a web browser plug-in to eradicate her Facebook news feed, and hired a social media manager to monitor her Facebook page so that she doesn’t have to.


Justin Rosenstein, the former Google and Facebook engineer who helped build the ‘like’ button:  'Everyone is distracted. All of the time.’


“One reason I think it is particularly important for us to talk about this now is that we may be the last generation that can remember life before,” Rosenstein says.  It may or may not be relevant that Rosenstein, Pearlman, and most of the tech insiders questioning today’s attention economy are in their 30s, members of the last generation that can remember a world in which telephones were plugged into walls.


It is revealing that many of these younger technologists are weaning themselves off their own products, sending their children to elite Silicon Valley schools where iPhones, iPads and even laptops are banned.   They appear to be abiding by a Biggie Smalls lyric from their own youth about the perils of dealing crack cocaine: never get high on your own supply.


One morning in April this year, designers, programmers and tech entrepreneurs from across the world gathered at a conference centre on the shore of the San Francisco Bay. They had each paid up to $1,700 to learn how to manipulate people into habitual use of their products, on a course curated by conference organiser Nir Eyal.


Eyal, 39, the author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, has spent several years consulting for the tech industry, teaching techniques he developed by closely studying how the Silicon Valley giants operate.


Are smartphones really making our children sad?

“The technologies we use have turned into compulsions, if not full-fledged addictions,”Eyal writes.  “It’s the impulse to check a message notification.  It’s the pull to visit YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter for just a few minutes, only to find yourself still tapping and scrolling an hour later.”   None of this is an accident, he writes.  It is all “just as their designers intended”.


He explains the subtle psychological tricks that can be used to make people develop habits, such as varying the rewards people receive to create “a craving”, or exploiting negative emotions that can act as “triggers”.   “Feelings of boredom, loneliness, frustration, confusion and indecisiveness often instigate a slight pain or irritation and prompt an almost instantaneous and often mindless action to quell the negative sensation,” Eyal writes.


Attendees of the 2017 Habit Summit might have been surprised when Eyal walked on stage to announce that this year’s keynote speech was about “something a little different”.   He wanted to address the growing concern that technological manipulation was somehow harmful or immoral.   He told his audience that they should be careful not to abuse persuasive design, and wary of crossing a line into coercion.


But he was defensive of the techniques he teaches, and dismissive of those who compare tech addiction to drugs.  “We’re not freebasing Facebook and injecting Instagram here,” he said.  He flashed up a slide of a shelf filled with sugary baked goods.  “Just as we shouldn’t blame the baker for making such delicious treats, we can’t blame tech makers for making their products so good we want to use them,” he said.  “Of course that’s what tech companies will do.   And frankly: do we want it any other way?”


Without irony, Eyal finished his talk with some personal tips for resisting the lure of technology.   He told his audience he uses a Chrome extension, called DF YouTube, “which scrubs out a lot of those external triggers” he writes about in his book, and recommended an app called Pocket Points that “rewards you for staying off your phone when you need to focus”.



The coloured highlighting above was added by me.






The following is edited text copied from the YGAM website   


Copyright © 2017 YGAM Innovations, All rights reserved.



I found this piece on the Site, Teacher Training and Education, on LinkedIn, introduced by Adrian Sladdin, Director of Education at Young Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM), and gives very helpful information for families which can be found at the address below.  If you have any notion, or are inclined to fear one of your youngsters may be in over his or her head, and you want to get a hang on what’s going on NOW.   Check out the British registered charity, the Young Gamblers Education Trust (known as YGAM) - whose aim is quoted as "with a social purpose to ‘inform, educate and safeguard young people against problematic gambling & social gaming’."




Introducing YGAM

We are a UK-registered charity with a social purpose to ‘inform, educate and safeguard young people against problematic gambling & social gaming’.





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