Photograph of painting by Dublin Artist, Neil Douglas,
Courtesy of the Artist.







Autumn / Winter 2019 Update 





Iseult Catherine O'Brien

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

A Member of The Tutors' Association







Please see the ERSI January 2019 Bulletin ~ 


 “Later is Better: Mobile phone ownership and

child academic development, evidence from

 a longitudinal study” 


in the second last Section of this Article.




See the new piece on ~




in the last Section of this Article.







Topics covered below include ~















I am grateful to Rae Pica for introducing me to the very important work of Cindy Eckard, which can be found at the following ~ @screensandkids   and  Her work on the effects of overuse of blue-light emitting devices on eyes, and eyesight, from early years is important information for us all.



I have come across a very accessible, non-preachy, site to help families get a better balance in their lives ~ exercise, diet, recipes, screen time usage, and other suggestions ~ ~ useful for all ages.









I have been banging on for years 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 cognitive and memory problems, plus the difficulties that follow from not being able to live up to their own and their families' expectations.



This concern has been compounded by the growing evidence I've seen around me, have discussed at length with therapists and software technicians, and heard from people I know who work with young people, that online gambling has got to an extremely dangerous level with young people - with children also involved.



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












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













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 very irritating result of prolonged computer use, and which can lead to an eye infection, resulting from excessive rubbing and scratching of the eyeball, especially when tired.  




If you bring any kind of computer-based work home, 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 2.00am or 3.00am, 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 practice.



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














The following are excerpts from a paper by Dr Ford in the 'Review of Optometry'.








By Heather Flint Ford, OD


"The steep rise in personal electronics use and the transition from traditional incandescent lighting sources to compact fluorescent lights (CFL) and light-emitting diodes (LED) is dramatically increasing our exposure to blue light, raising new concerns about ocular health risks.



"Blue light plays an important role in the body: it maintains circadian rhythms, improves alertness and can even be used in conjunction with photodynamic therapy to treat cancerous lesions; however, various types of blue light also pose hazards to our eyes and bodies ...



"... Blue light has been found to penetrate deeper into the eye than other wavelengths of light, and thus has the potential to cause changes in retinal tissues, including the macula.



Sleep Cycle Disruption

"Blue light exposure at night has been shown to affect the quality of sleep.  Researchers recently tested the effects of using e-readers prior to sleep for four hours versus reading from a traditional book for four hours before sleep each night.



"The study found three notable results: 


  • Exposure to e-readers caused a 10-minute delay in sleep onset versus the control group;


  • The experimental group spent less time in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep (109.04 ± 26.25 min versus 120.86 ± 25.32 min in the print-book condition);


  • There was a significant difference between groups in subjective feelings of tiredness and alertness the following morning.4



"The researchers attribute the difference to decreased time spent in REM sleep, given its importance in learning and storing memories.5



"These findings are concerning, given the behaviour of our teenagers and young adults, who tend to spend their leisure time using digital devices in the evening prior to bedtime (and indeed all through the day).  Concerns already exist that we have a sleep epidemic in the United States — people receive fewer hours of sleep at night than in the past and significantly less than the recommended amounts.  Couple this with reduced sleep from electronic use prior to bedtime, and its resulting next-morning lethargy and lack of alertness, and we are at risk for having an underproductive, fatigued, population prone to motor vehicle accidents and errors on the job and in school."





 Please go to the following link for the full Article ~ 



[Some alterations in layout, colours of text, capitalisation and headings have been made by me, ICOB.]






Published April 27, 2018 in the 'Review of Optometry'







The new legislation aims to create guidelines on limiting students' exposure to screens.




By RO Staff


"Maryland schools are prepared to explore and institute protective measures for children’s vision, and it all started with one parent’s concern.  The legislation, which the State’s Governor signed Tuesday, mandates the schools work with health professionals to take preventative measures for digital device associated eye diseases.1 The measures will likely include guidelines for Maryland public schools on how long students can be exposed to screens and how laptops, tablet computers and digital readers can impact a child’s ocular health."



Please go to the following link for the complete article ~





[Some alterations in text, layout, colours of text, capitalisation and headings have been made by me, ICOB.]














No matter what time of year it is, if it's a holiday break, or whatever term the children and young people are in school or college, parents, guardians, and carers (PGCs) must be on the look-out at all times. 




Many PGCs are surprized that although their students had been back in the education cycle for quite some time, they still need 'support' and frequent urgings getting into a good sleep / awake balance, in order that they can get up on time, to work to their optimum, and care for their mental and physical health.




This problem with interaction can carry on through the whole year and include the Summer and Christmas Breaks if they have been keeping up with longterm online gaming, gambling, meeting new people - sometimes on porn sites, which often starts off by mistake, but are frequently revisited. 




After a Summer of electronic contact with friends, rather than going out to meet up with a group of friends, and never having a real good, relaxed chat, all together, some young people find being surrounded by classmates, and many other people, surprizingly difficult.





All of this blue-light device activity can make actually meeting people face-to-face very 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 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.  


And they are right.






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 have got out of the habit of meeting up with friends or visiting family easily and frequently, may find it especially difficult to get back into the situation of being among large groups of people, such as at Christmas or New Year parties, Mid-Term Breaks, Spring Break, Summer barbeques,  and Easter Holidays. 




This isolation from one's friends, and the world in general, can happen very quickly, and it is not easy to overcome.




Some people find going out the front door a HUGE problem, and will change clothes a few times, rearrange the sock drawer, anything to avoid going out the door.  All breaks from school / college / university are very good times for PGCs, and the family in general, to pay attention to the social lives, and possible lack of activities, of youngsters, teenagers, and young people in the family.




Are they going out to call on friends and family? 

Do they accept invitations readily and happily, looking forward to dressing up and going out?




Do they think of any excuse not to go out?   

Do they just see a couple of close friends in the bedroom, and never go visiting?




At what time of day do they first appear, and do they seem especially tired and bleary-eyed? 




PEOPLE ARE VERY SOCIAL ANIMALS.  We are hardwired to gather in groups, and we are tactile. 





This seemingly anti-social behaviour can be

put down to teenage mood swings, but it is

much more serious than that.





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.





Young people can get VERY cranky as they are trying to work and manage on too little sleep while their proper balance is being sought.   

If they have got into the habit of watching downloads or gaming for long periods during the holidays, getting back into a rhythm of rising on time to get to school / college / university, can be EXTREMELY DIFFICULT to achieve If they didn't get back into an appropriate sleeping regime before starting back.  It can be done, but it's not easy.




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. 




These are Simple Facts We Cannot Deny,

No Matter How We May Wish To.





We need to help our students get up on time NOW, no matter if already back in study, as they need to get into a sleep / awake balance, so they may be able to get up on time as soon as possible.  This is not going to be easy for anyone in the family.





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 kindergarten / 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 lost, the game is everything.




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




It can become a habit very 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 local laws, and youngsters are free to gamble.  I have yet to hear of an online gambling company checking 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?   





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, pornography, downloads, and gaming. 



Inadvertently, anyone can find him or herself on a sordid, sex site.



Pornography sites are being used more often by young men, and boys of early to mid teens, on a regular basis ~ they usually start viewing at 11-12 years of age.




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 smartphones?



ARE THEY AWARE of the possible serious negative health consequences?



This isolation and lack of personal interaction can lead to depression.  This can be difficult to recognise, as knowing what came first is difficult to ascertain.  Everything should be done to get a young person to visit his or her GP.















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 (sic) 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 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 further reaction 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


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:





[The colouring, highlighting and underlining of text were added by me, ICOB.]









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 and sound levels as the evening comes on, from around 4.30-5.00pm in the darker months, reducing them to side lamps in main family rooms.  On brighter evenings, all youngsters should be encouraged to call on friends and play vigorous, physical, games outdoors.  The resultant tiredness would lead to an easier sleep.



The television may need to be turned off or moved to another room. 



A calm, quiet, low-lit, room in which to wind-down after homework and dinner, for catching up on family news, and getting into the best possible frame of mind for a relaxed trip to bed, would of great benefit to all children and young people.  




It's the best way to prepare for bed for anyone of any age.




If children and young people don't start feeling tired, and naturally ready for sleep, their body-clocks are thrown awry.




Darker, quieter, 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 percent of BONE GROWTH TAKES PLACE DURING SLEEP. 





quality,  SUSTAINED, sleep give a child,

youngster, teenager, and young person

adequate rest.   




This is the necessary amount of sleep for both 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.
















Sometimes a court case comes along and a whole nation may be held transfixed in horror at the terrifying experiences of the children involved, and the realisation amongst many parents, guardians, carers, and teachers, that they really do not know what's going on in the lives of their children, and that many do not understand the reach of a smartphone or Tablet, and other such devices.




Please see my Post, 'OUR CHILDREN ARE AT RISK ~ WE NEED TO BE VIGILANT', for fuller information on this court case.




Dublin man’s computer had recorded Skype calls between him and two nine-year-old girls.




Updated: The Irish Times, Fri, Jan 26, 2018, 20:30 Reporters: Declan Brennan, Aoife Nic Ardghail. See for full text of Irish Times Articles.





A Dublin man  who possessed thousands of child pornography images and coerced young girls to send him sexually graphic pictures and videos of themselves has been jailed for seven and a half years.




Matthew Horan (26) used Skype, Snapchat, Instagram and Kik, an anonymous instant messaging application, to send and receive child porn images from six identified child users in Ireland and nine unknown users around the world.




A forensic examination of Horan’s computer uncovered recorded Skype calls between him and two nine-year-old-girls, both individually and together. The recordings included footage of these girls engaging in graphic sexual acts.




Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Horan would use Kik to share child porn images and videos with unidentified users around the world, most of whom claimed to be young teenagers.




Threat to Share Images

He threatened to share an 11-year-old girl's nude images to her social media accounts if she didn't send him further graphic photos.


In the text exchange between them, this girl repeatedly told Horan she would kill herself.  He continued to coerce her to send more images, the court heard.




Horan pleaded guilty to: two counts in relation to sexually exploiting two girls; two more counts of sexually exploiting a child and one count of distributing child pornography on dates in 2015; possessing child porn at his address on July 11th, 2015; three further counts of sexually exploiting female children through Snapchat and Instagram in the State on dates between May 21st, 2015 and July 7th, 2016; possessing child porn on a Sony mobile phone at his home on July 7th, 2016.  He has no previous convictions.




 Judge Nolan ... said ... "the crimes were all committed for Horan’s indulgence and pleasure and Horan had exploited children in a most horrible way."   He said Horan’s actions would have long-term effects on the victims.


“He knew what he was doing was wrong. He understood the damage and yet he didn’t stop what he was doing,” he said.





[All text in italics is copied from The Irish Times online Articles. Rearrangement of text and headings was added by me, ICOB.]
















I hope the above edited elements of the coverage of the trial would be of general use to children, young people, and the adults in their lives, as an introduction to the topic of staying safe online, on Tablets, smartphones and other devices. 




See here for the full reportage Updated: The Irish Times, Fri, Jan 26, 2018, 20:30

Reporters: Declan Brennan, Aoife Nic Ardghail. for full text of Irish Times Articles.




I suggest that all PGCs, and any adults who play a large part in children's, youngsters' and young adults' lives might read ALL the various articles listed in this Post.   If a child or young teenager has heard of the court case, and wants to know more, reading through the articles together would be useful for both the adult and the child or young person. 




I suggest the adult should read through first, checking the meanings of any technical terms, or any everyday terms that had never seemed so scary previously.  The adult would feel more confident about being able to answer possible questions.   Once armed with information, I believe the PGCs, or significant adults, should start a conversation at a quiet, relaxed time, about the court case, asking if the youngster has heard anything about it.  




It may have been huge in Ireland, but people overseas will be unaware of this court case, and the public's memory fades.  However, it is still an easy to understand case to use as an example.




While bearing in mind that this case focused on young girls, and that boys are equally at risk, I suggest putting these horrible experiences to a positive use, as the basis for study by families, classes, and all students, to check that everyone knows what to look out for, and what to do if there is a fear that personal information has passed to another.



The situation of the young girls would engender both empathy and determination in children, youngsters, and young people.  No-one would want to go through their experiences, and they are easy to imagine. 




I believe having prepared a child by saying what you are about to read with him or her is upsetting, but very important to know about - the adult should just jump in, and trust to his or her relationship with the child,  and that any questions shall be answered.  




Take your time.  Take opportunities to ask if he or she understands what has happened so far.  



It doesn't have to be done all in one evening - it's more important that all the information available and required is mined. 




Be ready to answer questions over weeks and maybe months.   That would be a very positive sign. This is a very big subject, and realisations will hit the young in sudden moments, and after consideration.  Those are the times when question might be formulating to be asked.  We need to stay alert, and ask if there are any questions or suggestions the child or young person wants to put. 




It's easy to become complacent, thinking one knows what's going on.  


This story brings out all the nurturing and fear in any adult.




Don't worry If something comes up that you, the adult, hasn't checked - you should just say straight out, that ~


"I don't understand that, but we'll find out the meaning. 


"We're both learning a good deal of new and really important information because of the bravery of those girls - and pretending we know something when we don't, is not good for either of us.  Information is Power!"




It was a truly shocking case, and sometimes we need a jolt to get motivated.














To help us be clear what devices we need to consider in relation to our children's and young people's welfare, I list below the devices included in The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, Australian Child Health Poll of 21 June 2017.  The Poll is covered in detail below.



A screen-based device is defined as a television, computer, laptop, gaming console, iPhone, Smartphone, iPad and Tablet. 



Given details reported during his court case of the devices and apps used by Matthew Horan, I'm adding SkypeSnapchatInstagramKik, and mobile / cell phones to the list, hoping to give as broad a sweep of devices and software as I can. 




Any and all suggestions and information would be welcome.  




Grainne Long, Chief Executive of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC), said parents must set boundaries and structures for their children’s internet use.   She also said if they (the parents) were uncertain about the technology being used, they should call into stores where staff can advise them.




I think Ms Long's is an excellent suggestion. 



We could expand it to ringing the suppliers of all our devices, and arranging to go into the shop(s) with the whole family's devices, as relevant, with everyone included - all the children, youngsters, young adults, and the PGCs in the house - their help could bring a great deal of clarity.  




The technicians in the shop would know where are all the switches for turning off inappropriate material - films, music videos, television programmes, and given the current zeitgeist they would be keen to make suggestions.  


Most assistants working in these shops are young people, and they are happy to share their information, and to help adults learn how to be in charge of the family's devices. 



They could show apps that are age inappropriate or actually adult material.  I know I'd be very relieved to be helped out by someone working in an electronic goods shop, or a shop supplying all kinds of phones.  We are creatures of habit, and are inclined to stick to the same shop(s) if it has / they have worked out well previously.







Here are FIVE things to consider 

when you are coming up with a





"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 meals, etc."




[The colouring, highlighting, and underlining of text were added by me, ICOB.]











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.




Introduced on the Site, Teacher Training and Education, 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 NEED 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’."















HAVE PARENTS / GUARDIANS / CARERS 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 about cyber-bullying. 




Parents cannot leave this job to

teachers and the school. 




Your children's and young people's welfare is your concern and has to be your priority.  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 (13), from Limerick, Ireland, has a YouTube video entitled 'Cyber Bullying: Create No Hate' which went viral. 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 parents / guardians / carers (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, 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 realise 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.




PARENTS, GUARDIANS, and CARERS MAY HAVE TO make some very unwelcome and drastic decisions which might cause serious friction, in the short to medium-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 three 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 these Studies.]




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 if not competing with the noise and distraction of a television.




For their welfare's sake, teenagers and younger, SHOULD NOT have a television, iPad, smartphone, 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 worldwide that young people of 13 years are equally entitled.  








'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 restriciting their own use of smartphones, etc. 










I know that the reaction from youngsters 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 and deep reading of novels, poetry, histories, biographies.  We must retain an intellectual 'omnivorism'.




However, the laptop, and all its electronic relatives, will have to be removed from the bedroom at 7.30pm to 9.00pm, 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."   **




 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.







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?


By '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 emails, 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 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 a recent 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 colouring, highlighting of text, etc, was done by me.  ICOB.]








I know it's Scary,

but it's Serious Scary,

and we Need to Face our Responsibilities.









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 further reaction 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



A download from 'Generation Next'.

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



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





[Text colouring and highlighting was done by me. ICOB.]






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 of physical 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."




[Text highlighted in green added done by me.  ICOB.]





Child Crisis Arizona

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 (my italics).  Studies have also linked excessive television watching in children with a higher likelihood developing cognitive and social / emotional delays, obesity, and sleep disorders (my italics).




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 1 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.







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

Photograph of painting by Dublin Artist, Neil Douglas,
Courtesy of the Artist.




'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



[The text was highlighted in various shades of green by me. ICOB.]




"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 following is edited text copied from the YGAM website   


Copyright © 2017 YGAM Innovations, All rights reserved.



YGAM delivers its social purpose and derives social benefit for the UK through the delivery of the following three YGAM products.



Train the Trainer Workshops

YGAM delivers accredited training to teachers, youth workers, community mental health colleagues, prison & probation colleagues and community volunteers, enablingthem to deliver the YGAM gambling-related harm-prevention programme.  This YGAM programme and its resources have been accredited by Ofqual provider, ASDAN; quality-assured by the PSHE Association and YGAM has secured the prestigious Pearson Assured quality mark.



Peer Education projects YGAM works in partnership with universities to train year two & three students to become YGAM peer mentors.  Trained peer mentors are then employed part-time to deliver a range of gambling-related harm prevention programmes and awareness campaigns within their universities and local communities.




Through the delivery of the above two products, a programme of research into the attitudes, thinking and behaviours of young people and gambling / social gaming will be created to establish a global research network, specifically targeting teenagers and young adults.


Additionally, YGAM will work with our research partners to undertake both qualitative and quantitative research into the effectiveness and impact of the YGAM products.



Youth Gambling

Gambling is everywhere. Young people walk past betting shops, bill-boards, buy lottery tickets or scratchcards, and see gambling companies sponsoring major sporting events every day.  On their mobile phones they have access, not only to traditional betting and casino-style gambling, but also to social games with a gambling element.



While many people – the majority – enjoy gambling as a social activity, for others it can become a terrible addiction; contributing to a mental health condition, creating huge financial pressure and hardship, and in many cases destroying young lives.



At YGAM, we help schools, colleges, universities, and youth organisations educate young people to make smart choices, understand risk and prevent harm. Research into youth gambling (participation, attitudes, thinking, behaviours and harm) is still a new area of work in the UK and to that end there are still a number of ‘known, unknowns’.  YGAM is not a lobbying charity and we do not seek to influence how gambling is regulated in the UK. 






[I introduced all the colour in this Section,  ICOB.]



ESRI Longitudinal Study on Early Mobile Phone Ownership

Copyright : Илья Бурдун





Evidence from a Longitudinal Study






EVIDENCE FOR POLICY ESRI Research Bulletin 2019/03



Later is better: Mobile phone ownership and child academic development, evidence from a longitudinal study1 Seraphim Dempsey (ESRI), Seán Lyons (ESRI), Selina McCoy (ESRI)*



ESRI (The Economic and Social Research Institute) Research Bulletins provide short summaries of work published by ESRI researchers and overviews of thematic areas covered by ESRI programmes of research. Bulletins are designed to be easily accessible to a wide readership.




Children are increasingly getting access to mobile phones, and mobile phone ownership is now occurring at a time in children’s lives where their literacy and numeracy skills are developing. We examine whether there is an association between early mobile phone ownership and academic outcomes and whether delaying mobile phone ownership benefits the development of children’s academic skills. The mobility of mobile phone technology allows it to have a potentially unprecedented impact on children’s development. It can seamlessly cross into school and home settings; it is difficult for parents and teachers to supervise and monitor usage, as it accompanies the child throughout the day; and, consequently, the frequency of engagement with mobile phone technology is likely to be far higher for than other forms of technology.




How does mobile phone ownership impact on children in Ireland?

Earlier research from other countries, while limited in scale and scope, has suggested that mobile phone use may have a negative impact through cognitive overload, increased distraction and altering memory and learning patterns. Studies have also shown that phones can reduce both sleep duration and sleep quality, which is also likely to impact on children’s academic progress.





the findings from Dempsey, S., Lyons, S. and McCoy S., 2018, “Later is Better: Mobile phone ownership and child academic development, evidence from a longitudinal study”, Economics of Innovation and New Technology, online 20 December 2018.


Available online:



This research was supported by the ESRI's Programme of Research in Communications, which is in turn funded by contributions from Ireland’s Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and the Commission on Communications Regulation (ComReg).


* Corresponding author:





Using data on 8,500 9-year-old children in Ireland from Growing Up in Ireland, we examine how children with longer or shorter periods of mobile phone ownership performed on standardised reading and maths tests.


Given how well each child was performing at age 9 and taking into account many of their characteristics, we can see if those who received phones later than age 9 performed better or worse at age 13 than those who already had phones at age 9.


Children’s access to mobile phones is influenced by their family and school characteristics, with more highly educated parents and those with higher incomes less likely to provide phones at this young age. We take account of the characteristics of children who receive phones in looking at how early ownership shapes children’s academic development. Children attending more socially disadvantaged schools are more likely to have phones, all else being equal.




In both reading and maths, children who already report owning a phone by the age of nine fare less well in terms of their academic development as they move into adolescence.


The negative association with academic outcomes persists across socio-economic groups. The shortfall for early-adopters in both reading and maths scores at age thirteen equates to about a 4 percentile lower level of exam performance.



The findings suggest that there may be significant educational costs arising from early mobile phone use by children. Parents and policymakers should consider whether the benefits of phone availability for children are sufficiently large to justify such costs.



Recently, the then Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, asked schools to consult with parents and students to make decisions on the place of smart phones and personal devices in school. The intention is to promote a shared approach regarding the appropriate use of digital technologies. The approach is novel, and the evidence from this research may help schools in making decisions on whether access to mobile devices should be restricted.



Whitaker Square, Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin 2.

Telephone +353 1 863 2000.   Email

Web       Twitter @ESRIDublin


Go to for general information on The Economic and Social Research Institute.




[Colouring of text and highlighting of headings was added by me, ICOB.]





A Parent's Guide to Young Children in the Digital Age

Warmly dressed little girl having soup, 64092649_m. 123RF stock photograph.







Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Ed D


When I talk with parents, guardians, and carers (PGCs) these days, they often say that their children’s lives are very different from what their own childhoods were like.  Frequently, they name technology as the single biggest change in their children’s lives — and in their own lives too.


Many parents go on to say that their children are on screens more than they want them to be, and that screen use is often a source of conflict with their children.



Many express uncertainties about how they are letting their children’s use screens, and a sense that they might be doing it “wrong”.  I’m hoping that the ideas in this Report will resonate in a positive way for readers by providing some helpful new information and support on this challenging topic.



Technology cascaded into all of our lives in a very short period of time.  Many of us are struggling to make sense of it, to figure out how we can use technology well.  It has been a challenge for every age group.  Some of the concerns we read about are serious — the psychological effects of social media, the breaches of privacy, health issues like sleep disturbance, eye strain, and perhaps other effects waiting to emerge.



Many of these risks have their biggest impact on young children because their bodies and minds are still forming.  



Many PGCs find it hard to make decisions about screen time for their children because advice comes from different directions and often conflicts.  



In the field of child development, we have decades of theory and research that can be very helpful as a guide for screen and digital device use with young children.  These ideas can be a resource to depend on when trying to figure out about any screen, app, or digital device your child might want to use.



From child development theory and research, we know a great deal about how children learn and develop and what they need in order to grow to their full potential.  



In this Report are offered six core ideas that come from the field of child development that can be helpful in evaluating screen and technology use with young children.  



We can use these ideas, not as a rigid rulebook of “shoulds” and “should nots”, but more as a guide to help us make decisions and support children in this tech-saturated world.









Babies and young children are always moving.  They have to move.  It’s the movements and use of all of their senses that drives their development and learning.  



Many in the child development field were delighted in the 1990s when advances in neuroscience began crossing over into child development.  The brain scientists were confirming that play and active learning are critical to optimal brain development.



Neurons in the brain strengthen and connect as children move, explore, and interact in the world.  Everything we knew from child development theory was supported by this new brain research.  The brain of a new-born is a little more than one quarter of the volume and weight of the adult brain.  By the age of three, it has reached 80 percent of its adult size and, by age five, 90 percent.



Neurons are strengthening and synapses are forming in the brain at a faster rate during these early years than at any other time in life.  

Neurons in the brain strengthen and connect as children move, explore, interact in the world.



Unfortunately, there is a dearth of specific research about how media use affects brain development.  But what we do know is that the experiences a child has shape brain development.  



As the child moves, interacts, and uses her senses, neural activity in the brain is stimulated.



One neuroscientist wrote ~


You hold him on your lap and talk … and neurons from his ears start hard-wiring connections to the auditory cortex.  And you thought you were just playing with your child”.




A child’s whole development, brain development included, is best supported when the young child has full-on opportunities to use her whole bodies and senses for activity, play, and social interaction.



When we watch young children, who are engaging with screens, one of the first things we notice is that they are not moving or using their whole bodies.  Their bodies are more passive as their attention is absorbed by the screen.  


The focus shifts from moving to looking.  From acting on the world to re-acting to what’s on the screen.  This is a very significant shift in energy and attention for a child.  Further, there is something even more significant.  



When a child propels herself forward physically — to grab a toy, to crawl, to stand — she is taking initiative to act in and on the world.  When a child looks at a screen, not only is she more passive, but also her attention shifts away from her own initiative.



This is a very fundamental point.  We want to encourage young children to act on the world, to be interested in exploring everything around them.  When we teach them early in life that an object — a screen - entertains them, we are undermining their inherent capacity for taking initiative and learning through discovery.




Everything on a screen is a symbolic representation of something in the real world.  You and I know this without even thinking about it.  



But young children don’t understand this.  And it takes them many years to realize fully that what is on the screen is a representation of something and not the real thing.  



Even my grandson Miles, at the age of four, punched the television set because, he said, “I thought the bad guy was coming out of the TV.”  The youngest of my eight grandchildren is Max, who is two years old and lives in Swaziland.  Recently, we had a Skype call with him and his parents.  Max kept reaching for the screen, trying to touch me, to play and interact the way we did when I was visiting him last summer in Africa.  He was confused.  It’s true that with more experience, young children seem to get used to talking to a screen version of their loved ones.  Skype and various apps that allow for real time conversations can help children be in touch with loved ones who are far away, and many families are glad to have this way to connect.



In the ideal sense, children benefit most from having direct experiences in the actual world of relationships and objects.



This is because three dimensional experiences are wholistic, they involve a child fully — body, mind, and feelings - and this level of engagement is greater than what can be gained from two-dimensional experiences.



Through advertising from ChiddieTab which promotes the use of screens for young children.  It claims: “The Benefits of Exposing Young Children to Modern Technology”.  There is a good deal of marketing aimed at parents that asserts the benefits of screen technology use for young children.  

And a majority of parents believe that early screen use is beneficial



We need to be cautious about these claims, as companies can make them even if they are false or not grounded in research.



Let us imagine that a child is reaching for a ball that she sees on the screen.  Think of all the things she could do with an actual ball.  She could grab it, turn it over in her hands, roll it, watch it roll away, crawl to get it, throw it, bite it -- she could keep on inventing new ways to explore the ball.


And with each exploration, the neurons in her brain would be getting stronger, new synapses connecting.



When I was in Swaziland last Summer, Max was 18 months old.  He was using a ball to work on a very important cognitive concept: object permanence.  This is one of the most fundamental concepts in human development - the idea that when something is out of our sight, it still exists.  

Without this concept, humans wouldn’t learn language or math or be able to think of anything abstractly.  



We all constructed this concept in our minds during the first two years of life, and we did it by having lots of experiences interacting with objects and people.  



Slowly, we learned that things existed even when we couldn’t see them.  Max spent a lot of time working on this idea last Summer.  He would roll the ball under the couch, so it was out of sight.  At first, he looked a bit confused.  Where was the ball now?  Eventually, he would crawl under the couch and find it.  He practised this countless times, each time getting a little more secure with the idea of where that ball was even when it was out of his view.  



Max wouldn’t have been able to build this important concept in his mind without having had direct experiences with the ball in three-dimensional space.  Seeing the ball on a screen would not have given him the data he needed to construct this idea.



There are many concepts young children develop out of their experiences with three-dimensional objects.  

When we watch them, we see that they are learning almost constantly from banging things, dropping them, rolling them, mushing them around, covering them up, tasting them, rattling them, etc.  

I saw a research study recently that said that young children couldn’t transfer information learned on a two-dimensional screen to three dimensions.



That seems obvious to me because of how they learn, and need to learn, in the early years.  Presenting a child with images on a 2-D screen short changes a child by giving her far too little information on which to build concepts needed in order to build the foundation for later learning.




Children are active learners.  

They learn by interacting with other people and by having lots of hands-on experiences with all kinds of things around them.  Children don’t learn optimally when we try to put information into their heads directly.  


Most of us probably remember having to learn some things by rote when we were in school.  And most of us probably know that we forgot what we learned quite quickly.  For genuine learning to happen, children need to construct ideas for themselves, in their own minds.  This is the kind of learning that is real and genuine and stays with us.



When children build with blocks and with many other materials, they are working on a whole variety of concepts.  One very important group of concepts relate to numbers.  With blocks, children classify them into groups by shape.  They put them in order by length.  They match them up in various ways.  

They do this usually while they are playing, and this learning is happening naturally.  



These concepts build toward an understanding of quantity, a concept that is quite complex and takes time to understand, a concept we all constructed at one time in our young lives.



If you and I look at different objects - let’s say at a group of four giraffes, a group of four watermelons, and a group of four cupcakes - we know without having to think about it that there are four objects in each of these groupings, even though they look very different.


But we didn’t always know this, and young children don’t automatically know it.  They have to build this understanding over time.  




This isn’t a concept that we can teach children directly.

 Like many concepts, children have to construct this idea from their own experience with materials.  That is why having lots of experiences with a whole variety of real objects is critical to early mathematics learning.  



In many early childhood classrooms these days, adults are teaching children by direct instruction through rote learning.  Commonly, there will be flashcards with number symbols written on them: 4, 5, 8, 9, etc.  



Teachers will hold these up for children to name.  But a child can call out the correct “name” of the numeral without understanding the “concept” of the number.  He could say that “4” is “four” without understanding the concept of quantity.  Unfortunately, in early childhood education today, there is far too much drilling of number names and other specific memorisable “facts”.



Many adults are deceived into thinking that children understand concepts because they can parrot back the names of symbols.  

But children have to construct this understanding in their own minds through their ongoing actions on materials and in play with other children.



Good early childhood education offers play-based learning experiences that allow children to build ideas through engaging activities.  This is what active learning really means.



 It’s the opposite of drills and rote learning.  



The focus in a play-based classroom is on each child’s developing understanding and not on getting final right-or wrong-answers.



When we observe children, we notice that they are often working on these early mathematic concepts spontaneously.  


I was in Guatemala where my grandson Jake lived, and he was five years old at the time.  We had a lovely fruit salad one morning for breakfast.  The bowl of fruit was out on the table for five of us to share.  Jake went out to the table and set up the breakfast on his own.  


Then he spooned three pieces of watermelon and two pieces of pineapple onto each plate (classification by threes and twos).  


Again, Jake was working on these pre-number concepts on his own, just through his own natural activity.  



During this same visit, I noticed that Jake was getting interested in counting.  One day as we walked by the lake in his lakeside village, we saw some ducks on the water (there were five).  He started to count: “one, two, three, four, eight!”  He grinned at me happily.  If Jake were in a classroom with an emphasis on direct instruction and right answers, the teacher would correct him for counting incorrectly.  


But actually, Jake was showing how much he already knew about numbers.  He was matching the name of a number to each duck.  He knew that those names referred to quantities.  He showed the good early childhood education offers play-based learning experiences that allow children to build ideas through engaging activities.



This was a lot to know already. But he still needed more experience before he would understand the specific quantity that each of those names referred to.



Unfortunately, most of the learning apps and computer learning games, by their very nature, promote the kind of learning that emphasises getting the right answers and learning by rote.  



Children follow directions and give answers.  With screens and digital devices, they cannot learn by manipulating actual building materials.  


If they do have an app that lets them move objects around on a screen, for example, they will learn something, but far less than what they could potentially learn from having materials in their hands and discovering myriad things to do with them.  



The learning that comes from drills and producing answers does not provide as solid a foundation of understanding in a child’s mind.  



It is a more superficial kind of learning that does not hold up as well as the kind of learning that a child constructs through direct action on materials.  In addition, when children are learning through interaction -- with materials and with other children - they are learning about learning itself.  They learn that they can have their own original ideas.  


They can create and invent and build understanding in their own minds.  Because screen-based learning focuses on direct instruction and right answers, children get the wrong idea about what learning actually is.  In classrooms where children have too much direct instruction, they can think that knowledge and answers belong to the teacher.  And when they learn by computers and apps, they can think the answers are in the devices.  



In both cases, the answers lie outside of the child, and are not within his or her own power to discover.





When you and I have experiences that cause us angst - maybe we have a disagreement at work, or something scary happens to us, or there was a conflict at home - we tend to go over the moments of difficulty in our minds.  We replay the events mentally as we try to sort through what happened.  We might talk with someone we trust and verbally describe what took place and how we feel.  


As adults, we have this ability to use our thoughts and words to process our experiences.  But children don’t have these tools.  The way that young children process and make sense of their experiences is through play.  



Play is so vital to young children’s emotional and mental health that it is sometimes called the engine of development.  



Play is universal among children, as universal as walking and talking.  All children know how to play, and no-one has to teach them.  Surely, any activity that is wired into humans this way is critical for human adaptation and development. When children are learning through interaction - with materials and with other children - they are learning about learning itself.



When my grandson Jackson was two years old and I was giving him a bath, a small spider dropped down from above onto the rim of the bathtub.  Jackson started screaming in fear of the spider.  I was surprised and tried to show Jackson that the little creature was harmless, but he kept on screaming and seemed genuinely scared.  So, I wrapped Jackson in a towel and lifted him out of the tub.


The next day when Jackson came over to my house after day care, I had some playthings set out.  There was playdough, a tiny doll (Jackson’s baby brother had just been born so he played with the little doll a lot), and a plastic spider — the kind you can buy in a jug full of different kinds of plastic animals.  There was also a little box on the table.


Jackson put the toy baby into the box.  He squished some playdough into a flat shape, covered the baby up, and said, “The baby is scared of the spider”.  


Then he took the baby back out of the box, then quickly returned it to the box, covered it with playdough and repeated, “The baby is scared of the spider”.  


And, then once more, Jackson repeated the same little scenario.  A two-year-old is just beginning to play, but we can see the simple and important elements of play in what Jackson did.  He told a little story that was based in his own experience with the spider, but it was also partly from his imagination. He projected his own fear of the spider onto the baby and then found a way to protect the baby from the spider with the playdough cover.  

Jackson repeated this little story several times, all the while getting a sense of mastery over what had scared him.  



As children get older, their play becomes more complex.  Brain scientists would tell us that the neural structures of the brain increase as children’s play gets more complex, and the growing brain supports more complex play.  



Children get better at playing the more they play.  


They need to practice every day so they can become good players.  


Jackson’s spider encounter is an example of an everyday stress that could happen in the life of a fortunate child, like Jackson, whose basic needs — for a home, food, love, and security — are well met.  



There are forms of stress that some children experience that are far more severe than seeing a spider.  But even in situations where there is more extreme stress - often when there is poverty or violence in a child’s life - play is a vital resource that can help children cope.


i have been amazed at the ability of children I’ve worked with, in situations of violence and war, that are able to use their play to strengthen their sense of safety and security.  



In observing children at play, whoever they are and whatever their circumstances, I look for the basic elements of play that we saw in Jackson at age two: a story that comes from the child’s own experience; some original parts to the story that come from the child’s imagination; some evidence of emotional benefit to the child (ie making sense of a situation; feeling positive, secure and safe; having fun).  


Because play is such a vital resource for healthy development, it is worrisome to observe the significant decline in children’s play today.  



Children are now playing less both at home and in school.



In classrooms for young children, we’ve seen a dramatic decline in play.  

The education reforms of the last almost twenty years have pushed academic standards and testing down to our youngest children, even to pre-schoolers.  [This pertains mainly to the USA but is emerging in other Western countries also.] 



Studies have shown that classrooms for young children have far less play than in the past, fewer arts.  Because play is such a vital resource for healthy development, it is worrisome to observe the significant decline in children’s play today.  


These changes in early childhood education have been detrimental to all young children, but most harmful to black and brown children living in low-income communities where misguided education reforms have had their greatest impact.  The loss of play in classrooms for young children has robbed them of one of the greatest resources they have for making meaning of their lives and gaining feelings of mastery over difficult experiences.  



The loss of play inside of schools has corresponded to a reduction of play in children’s lives outside of school.  

Children are spending more time in front of screens — watching television, movies, and using computers, tablets and phones — than ever before.  

The time children are spending with these types of media is replacing child-directed play, even among very young children.



Many of us are familiar with issues relating to screen addiction, and all age groups, including young children, seem to habituate to screens.  



While there are many factors involved in screen addiction, different for each age group, it is worth noting that from a developmental perspective, young children may be especially vulnerable to habituation because of how their minds work.


Young children are more swayed by what they see than are older children and adults who have a more developed capacity to think critically and to step away from what they are seeing if they choose to.  Young children live in the moment: they get engrossed with the images in front of them, and they are pulled in completely. 



Not only are children today playing less, but when they do play, their ability to create their own original stories has declined.



The prevalence of screens in combination with the mass marketing of toys and products linked to screen media has affected how children play.  


When children see movies — for example, Frozen or Star Wars -- and then play with the action figures, props, and costumes linked to these films, they typically act out the media-based stories and not stories of their own.  The play looks very similar from one child to the next.  Ideally, however, no two children would play in the same way.  This particular influence of commercial culture has meant that not only do children today play less, but even when they do play, the experience isn’t as fully beneficial as it might be.  Also, the messages in media culture tell children about themselves and their world.  There’s an over-representation of white characters in much of children’s pop culture and more whites featured in leading roles, as well as a prevalence of rigid gender stereotypes — all of which can negatively impact children’s sense of self.




After our visit to Guatemala the year my grandson Jake was four years old, I learned that he had cried for a long time when he realized that my husband Doug and I had left.  The following year after our next long visit, I was determined to do a better job of helping Jake prepare for our departure.  Young children are more swayed by what they see than are older children and adults.  



The day before we were leaving to return to the US, I brought Jake over to the little casita where we were staying. I had some things to play with set out: my familiar home-made playdough, some popsicle sticks, paper, crayons and glue.



I drew a simple house on paper with two stick figures and said to Jake, “Tomorrow, Grampa Doug and I are going on an airplane back to Boston” (he had visited Boston in the past).  Right away, he picked up a crayon and drew his own “house” on paper.  He put us all inside the house and gave us names: Mommy, Papa, Grampa Doug, Nancy, and Jake.  


On another piece of paper, he drew another “house,” ringed it with play dough and called it Boston.  He put the same five people in there too.  



Then he started making airplanes.  Jake glued two sticks together and put five people on the plane: Mommy, Papa, Grampa Doug, Nancy, and himself.  He flew the plane from the house in Guatemala to the house in Boston.  All of us were on the plane and all of us were in the houses together.  He made more planes, always with five of us on them, and flew them all around the room and between the two houses.  He was very engrossed in this play and it went on for a long time.  



When it was time to wind down, I said, “Jake this has been really fun playing with the airplanes and houses.  But remember that tomorrow, Grampa Doug and I will go in an airplane back to Boston”.  I put two of his little playdough pieces on a plane and flew it to the Boston house.  The next day after we had left Guatemala, Jake’s mom wrote to me to say that Jake woke up that morning and announced, “Grampa Doug and Nancy are gone.  They went back to Boston”.  He seemed settled and tranquil, with no sign of distress.

 Inner resilience builds in children over time.  



When children have the chance to play every day, they increasingly build skills that help them work through challenging experiences.  


Just in this one play episode, we can see that Jake was able to come to terms with an event that was potentially difficult for him.  Instead of the feeling of despair he’d had the year before, there was a different confidence: “I can do this.  I know Grampa Doug and Nancy left and I’m okay.”  When children play this way over time, their inner resilience strengthens; they become secure in handling the challenges life brings.  



The materials Jake played with had a lot to do with his ability to create play of benefit to him.  The materials were undefined and open-ended.  With popsicle sticks, playdough, crayons and paper, he could make whatever he wanted.  Giving children undefined materials allows them to reach inward to create the props and symbols they need to get the most out of their play.  This cannot happen when we give them defined toys or screen apps or games because the images are pre-set.  They determine what happens in the play and impede a child from accessing his or her own imagination and emotional needs.



There are screen apps and games that many children spend a lot of time “playing” Puppet Pals is an example of a phone app.  The creators of Puppet Pals advertise the app as “encouraging creative play".  There are characters in the app - policeman, ballerina, doctor, astronaut — and children can tap on the screen to mix their heads and bodies.  They can make the characters talk, move their limbs, and put them on animals or vehicles to ride as they tell a story.  I watched two of my granddaughters as they played with Puppet Pals.  They had a lot of fun creating the characters, making them move, putting them on animals to ride.  Almost all of their time was spent this way.  The story they told was brief and confined to the characters and actions of the app.  It can be helpful to realize that the more that elements on a screen shape play, the less a child’s play can come from within.  And the less a child’s play comes from within, the harder it will be to build inner resilience and coping skills through play.  



All of the entertaining options offered on the screen interfere with a child’s own story and the needs of her own psyche.  


It’s a trade-off we can keep in mind: more direction from outside means less access to the inner life of imagination and emotion.




There is a human, social dimension to almost everything a child does.  They learn from hearing each other’s ideas and they also learn about getting along with each other as they play.  Children’s emotional and social development happens slowly over time, just as their cognitive development does.  They develop awareness and skills slowly that grow from their experience interacting with others.  



Today, the context in which children are developing socially and emotionally is changing rapidly and dramatically.  Children are playing less both in school and at home and therefore, have less experience interacting with other children.  And it seems, judging from the research, many children have less time or less focused time with parents.  Many parents are less available to children because of time spent with technology.  


Because child development theory would tell us that children need lots of social interaction for healthy development, it is a concern that they are getting less of it today.  


It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it looks like for children today to be having less social interaction, but this story really made me think.  My friend Joyce told me that she recently rode on a bus and in the seat across from her was a young child who looked to be about one-year-old sitting on the lap of a caregiver.  Joyce said that she and the child began to interact.  They smiled at each other, made faces, and went back and forth in their nonverbal communication.  Suddenly, the caregiver whipped out a smart phone and handed it to the child who went quickly into a phone-absorbed state and never looked at Joyce again.  This is one small example of one mobile device affecting one social interaction in a baby’s life.  



What will be the effect on children of an accumulation of countless social experiences reshaped by technology?  When smartphones came out about ten years ago, many of us noticed parents on their phones with their children in public places like parks and restaurants.  Teachers would tell me about parents on cell phones at day care pick-up time, paying no attention to the child or the teacher, while continuing their conversations.  



Researchers began reporting that children felt “unimportant” when parents were on their phones; that they felt they were competing with technology for parents’ attention



There’s a large body of work in the child development field on children’s healthy attachments and sense of security.  While there are many important factors that affect children’s emotional security, having the consistent, focused, loving attention of an adult is a major one.  


Perhaps those of us who interact with children have an opportunity here.  We can practice giving our full, undivided attention to children at least during sometimes of the day.  Doing this offers us a meaningful experience in the act of being present, something most of us find very difficult.  



Just staying in the moment of being with a child with awareness is a satisfying practice for us, and a true gift to children, one they sorely need today.  Soon after smartphones appeared on the market a decade ago, apps and tablets for children became more prevalent.  And as the prevalence of ‘kiddie’ technology increased, something else began to occur.  Parents and caregivers began to see an easy opening for using phones to amuse and distract children.  


What quickly became a common practise was to offer a phone to a child in a difficult situation -- a hard transition, a conflict, a scary moment -- or simply to occupy a child, like the caregiver on Joyce’s bus.  It was an easy solution.  Distract the child, end the distress, amuse the child, make life easier.  



But at what cost to the child’s social and emotional development?  



A few Summers ago, I spent a week with close friends, including five-year-old Quentin and his Nana.  Quentin is very close to his Nana, he adores her.  After we’d spent a full week together, Nana explained to Quentin that she had to leave in the morning to visit her own mom.  When Nana pulled out of the driveway, Quentin let go with a painful cry.  He wailed so completely, with so much sadness, as he watched his Nana drive away.  I took Quentin on my lap and there he sat, crying.  After a while, when I thought it might be possible, I made a suggestion: “Quentin,” I said, “I have an idea. Let’s get some paper and markers and you can make a picture for Nana and we can send it to her.”  Quentin liked this idea.  He was ready to feel better.  I set Quentin up at the table with the paper and markers and left him for a bit.  When I came back to the table, I was quite amazed. Quentin hadn’t made a picture for Nana, he had written her “a letter” — something he had never done before.  



If I had given Quentin my phone, he would not have had the chance to feel his feelings of sadness and loss, to find the words to express those feelings, to write a letter to his Nana and to strengthen their relationship in doing so.  

If I’d given him my phone, I would have bypassed all of that rich emotional experience he deserved to have.  Children need to have the full range of emotional and social experiences in order to grow that part of themselves. 



They will learn that when they feel bad, instead of looking inward to find the resources to cope, they can turn to a screen or something else external to make themselves feel better.








Knowing how young children develop and learn, in my view, is the single most important resource we have for making decisions about screen use.  


The six core ideas from child development lead to specific suggestions that we can put to use when trying to decide how to handle screens and digital devices with young children.



If I’d given him my phone, I would have bypassed all of that rich emotional experience he deserved to have.  Knowing how young children develop and learn, in my view, is the single most important resource we have for making decisions about screen use.








1. Surround young children with opportunities to move and explore using their whole bodies and all of their senses.



2. Provide young children with all kinds of objects to explore.  And try to give them lots of opportunities for social interaction - remembering that children grow cognitively, socially, and emotionally as they actively engage with materials and people.



3. Keep children away from screens in the first two years of life as much as possible and keep screen use to a minimum throughout the early childhood years. When a child wants screen time, we can ask ourselves: “What is the potential of this activity for fostering imagination and / or social development?  Is there a more beneficial, more fully engaging experience available for my child right now?”



4. Try to provide a space (even a corner of a room in an apartment can work well) and uninterrupted time for children to play every day.



5. Give children undefined materials (playdough, art materials, blocks and building materials, household objects) to play with that will encourage the deepest, most creative and expanded play possible.



6. Try to pay conscious attention to our own use of mobile devices in the presence of children and try to set devices aside until later as much as possible.



7. Try to make screen use with children a conscious choice and not one we turn to automatically.



8. Try practicing the art of being fully present with children — giving them our full attention - even if it’s just for a few moments.



9. Avoid using screens to occupy children or to distract them from difficult feelings or moments.  Keep open-ended materials like playdough, markers and paper, building materials easily accessible.



10. Be alert to the school environment children have and advocate for classrooms that engage children through playful learning and allow them to follow their own curiosity rather than the didactic learning that is so widespread today.





NANCY CARLSSON-PAIGE, ED. D Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Ed D, is Professor Emerita at Lesley University where she was a teacher educator in child development for more than 30 years.  Nancy has written many books and articles on children, their social and emotional development, and the effects of media on young children.  Her most recent book is called Taking Back Childhood: A Proven Roadmap for Raising Confident, Creative, Compassionate Children.  In 2012, Nancy co-founded Defending the Early Years and is now a senior advisor at DEY.  Nancy is an advocate for education policies and practices that promote social justice, equity. and the well-being of all children. @Deprotects © November 2018 by Defending the Early Years.  All rights reserved.  Full report, Young Children in the Digital Age: A Parent’s Guide, available for downloading at no cost on our website: DEFENDING THE EARLY YEARS (DEY) is a non-profit organization working for a just, equitable, and quality early childhood education for every young child.  DEY publishes reports, makes mini-documentaries, issues position statements, advocates on policy, and has an active website full of resources, blogs, and activist steps for early childhood educators.




 Please see my Articles on this website. 'Children's City Life', 'Nature in the City', and 'City Winter Nature' for ideas on getting out and about with very young children this Autumn / Winter.




[ I have edited, altered, and made some additions to this article.  I also introduced colour, headings, and emphasised test, ICOB.]


My photograph of cornflowers from the garden, basking in he sun.




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, including their right, and the right of all, to a decent education.  


My LinkedIn site is





Thanks to Dublin artist, Neil Douglas, at, for kindly letting me use copies of his vivid, vibrant, paintings.