Parents here in Syracuse as elsewhere share concerns that the addictive nature of video games, the Internet and phone text messaging may hurt the well being of their kids. These concerns are justified. Ellin Holohan has written for HealthDay, http://consumer.healthday.com, “Study Finds Teens’ Late Night Media Use Comes at a Price”.
A pilot study suggests that staying up late to play video games, surf the Internet and send phone text messages may lead to learning problems, mood swings, anxiety and depression in children. This research, conducted at the Sleep Disorders Center at JFK Medical Center in Edison, N.J., has found that children who use their cell phones, computers and other electronic devices after supposedly going to sleep have a greater chance of sleep disorders that cause other difficulties. Study author Dr. Peter G. Polos has said “These activities are not sleep-promoting, like reading a novel or listening to music. They stimulate the brain and depress normal sleep cycles.”
This study was based on a survey of 40 boys and girls with an average age of 14. The researchers concentrated on their activities after they had gone into their bedroom for the night and were supposed to be sleeping. The research discovered correlations between late-night electronic media use and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, mood swings, anxiety, depression and poor cognitive functioning, thinking skills, during the day. Polos said almost half of the parents of study participants didn’t know what the kids were up to while the others knew, but had a fatalistic attitude. Polos has also said parents need to monitor electronic media use, he said, because “at the end of the day, the parent is still the parent, the child is still the child.” Parents should set rules such as no computers in the child’s bedroom, no phone calls during mealtimes, and establish a phone use curfew.
The effect of media can be healthy for some children who have more positive contact with others than they might normally have had. However, parents should be aware that all the messages sent back and forth are not always friendly or helpful for the emotional and intellectual well being of their kids. Parents should communicate with their children about this.
Parents here in Syracuse and elsewhere should make efforts to help their kids deal only with positive, healthy media and to keep the use of media at a reasonable level and at reasonable hours.
Photographer: Arvind Balaraman
Mandel News Service: http://www.mandelnews.com