Impact On Children's Developments Of Social Media

There are 2 aspects to this, ie

i) screen-obsessed young children not participating in traditional childhood activities, especially playing outdoors

ii) their parent's amount of time spent on their digital devices.

"...the direct risk screen posed to children. Substantial evidence suggests that many types of screen time (SPC especially those involving fast-paced and violent imagery) are damaging to young brains. Today's preschoolers spend more than four hours a day facing a screen. and, since 1970, the average age of onset of regular screen use has gone from four years to just four months......despite a dramatic increase in the percentage of women in the workforce, mothers today astonishingly spend more time caring for their children than mothers did in the 1960s. But the engagement between parent and child is increasingly low quality...... parents are constantly present in their children's lives physically, but they are less emotionally attuned..."

Erika Christakis 2018

This has been called "continuous partial attention" and is harming children.

"...the new parent-interaction style can interrupt an ancient emotional cueing system, whose hallmark is responsive communication, the basis of most human learning..."

Erika Christakis 2018

There are different names for this dyadic signalling system between adults and children which builds the basic architecture of the brain. Some people call it "serve and return" style of communications; others "conversational duet".

"...the vocal patterns parents everywhere tend to adopt during exchange with infants and toddlers are marked by a higher-pitched tone, simplified grammar, and engaged, exaggerated enthusiasm......babies can't get enough of it...... one study showed that infants exposed to this interactive, emotional responses speech style  at 11 months and 14 months knew twice as many words at age 2 as one's who were not exposed to it..."

Erika Christakis 2018

A child's development is relational. Videos cannot replace this relationship, ie the importance of conversation.

"...language is the single biggest predictor of school achievement......and the key to strong language skills are those back-and-forth fluent conversations between young children and adults..."

Hirsh-Pasek as quoted by Erika Christakis 2018

"...a problem therefore rises where the emotionally-resonant adult-child cueing system so essential to early learning is interrupted - by text, for example, or a quick check in on Instagram..."

Erika Christakis 2018

In addition, to the physical dangers posed by distracted parents not focusing on their children but on their smart phone, is the impact on the child's cognitive development, ie

"...Toddlers cannot learn when we break the flow of conversations by picking up our cell phones or looking at the text that whizzes by our screens..."

Hirsh-Pasek as quoted by Erika Christakis 2018

"...occasional parental inattention is not catastrophic (and may even build resilience), but chronic distraction is another story. Smart phone use has been associated with a familiar sign of addiction: distracted adults grow irritable when their phone use is interrupted; they not only miss emotional cues but actually misread them. A tuned-out parent may be quicker to anger than an engaged parent, assuming that a child is trying to be manipulative when, in reality, she just wants attention. Short, deliberate separations can of course be harmless, even healthy, for parent and child like (especially as children get older and require more independence). But that sort of separation is different from the inattention that occurs when a parent is with a child but communicating through his or her non-engagement that the child is less valuable than an e-mail.....the rise of unpredictable care, governed by the beeps  and enticements of smart phones. We seem to have stumbled into the worst model of parenting imaginable - always present physically, therefore blocking children's autonomy, yet only fitfully present emotionally..."

Erika Christakis 2018

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