Latest Research on Electronic Devices & Our Children’s Health

“Green time” vs. “Screen time”

The pacifier.  No, not the one with a soft rubber nipple that sticks out of baby’s mouth.  The pacifier I’m talking about today is the new type…. called your smartphone or your tablet.  The “electronic” pacifier.

This electronic pacifier is not only a new tool to keep baby’s quiet, but it’s also a pacifier for adults to keep them entertained. And while studies are showing the dangerous effects to adults brains and bodies from the radiation, the blue light, and the dependency on staying connected, the real concern should be our children’s exposure and dependency on this new pacifier.  

In this detailed jaw-dropping article, I’m about to blow your hair back with research studies to inform you of the dangers of these devices and make aware to you real evidence that you need to know, both for your health, and for the sake of your children’s health.

First, let me just toss some research at you about the health effects of electronic pacifiers for adults, particularly women.  (Click the links to read the astounding research.)

This study reviewed women between the ages of 15-40 years of age and showed a notable brain health risk in the women who made phone calls with phone against head, versus in speaker mode.

And this one? A study out of India and the International Agency for Research on Cancer determined that the electromagnetic radiation from wireless phone use is a probable carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) causing some major concerns.

Then there’s this interesting study on the dependency and anxiety with smartphone use. Across a multitude of reviewed studies, depression severity was consistently linked to problematic smartphone use, as well as anxiety.  Even self-esteem was noted.

From my nutritional consults, I am constantly hearing of women who are feeling more and more anxiety….is this the missing link?

Now, onto the really scary stuff…the research depicting what all these electronic pacifiers are doing to our children….and my own thoughts.

The American Academy of Pediatrics have recommended that children under the age of 18 months avoid exposure to screens (other than that of video chat such as FaceTime).  And for good reason.  While they have their reasons such as delayed language skills, I have mine.  A baby or toddler is at least a quarter of the size of an adult, therefore any radiation, blue-light and stimulation from these devices is detrimentally more concentrated in their brains and bodies than in that of a grown human. Also, if you think about the fact that the iPad itself is only been on the market for 7 years, researchers have simply not had enough time or data from the effects of children or adults using them for that matter, to give us reliable facts about how they are harming our health and the health of our children.  Yet, it doesn’t take a Harvard researcher to notice the effect of the posture on children sitting with a tablet or smartphone on their lap, the dependency formed after only a few moments of watching a smartphone or tablet and then trying to pry it out of their white-knuckled little fingers (followed by the “tablet-taken-away-tantrums”).  And let’s not forget the lack of interest in any other toy outside of something with an app and an episode. Simply put, if we as parents were truly honest with our feelings around the use of electronic devices with our children, and trusted our inner knowing, we would not allow them to play with them at all, or at the very least, limit their exposure immensely.

Sadly it’s not just tablets and smartphones. The convenience of smart televisions with apps like Netflix and Youtube have made it all to easy to have an in-home babysitting service while mom tends to other issues. 

My question is: what happened to “green time” versus “screen time?  What happened to letting the great outdoors do some babysitting, as well as exploring with your kids.  Remember the saying, “Monkey see, monkey do?”  The fact of the matter is, if you are deriving convenience, pleasure, and entertainment from electronic devices, and have a hindered relationship with the outdoors, it’s no wonder your children do too.

My challenge to parents is to eliminate some of that screen time, not only for the kiddos but for themselves too, and adopt some healthful “green time” by simply going outside, making nature your app and the adventures that await you, your episodes.

Still not convinced that replacing screen time with green time will make a difference?

Let’s look at some studies involving screens and children, and then conversely, some studies involving nature and children:

This study concluded that more frequent screen time is associated with a child becoming overweight, having poor dietary habits, and physical inactivity mainly among girls.

Here’s a powerful study on how EMF (electromagnetic field radiation) could be most detrimental in damaging the delicate myelin of the nervous system specifically in the first year of life. Without a healthy myelin sheath, the signals in the body will not communicate properly and the entire system can go haywire…enter disease. 

This study found enough of a problem with EMF exposure to children (including headaches, fatigue, and sleep disturbances) Want to know what to do  to lessen the exposure?  Be sure to read the recommendations at the end of the paper!

Here’s an interesting study on too much EARLY screen time in 2-5 year olds and how it could result in excessive screen time in later years. (Could it foster a dependency in children? Possibly.)

The mother’s own screen time was the sole factor in children’s screen time. And the mother’s influence was determining factor of green time versus screen time. Again, little monkey see, little monkey do.

This study ought to make you sit up straight.  Neck pain and musculoskeletal problems can result from too much time bent over screens.  Man, if my posture-driven mother could see some of these kids today, she would have a hay day poking them in the back and yelling, “Focus on your posture.”

Touch-screens and smart devices are no better at teaching children than traditional means of pen and paper.  A fantastic paper cited that when children were taught how to read a clock via iPad, toy clock, or pen and paper, the children all learned equally well and no handheld device made any difference in their learning speed. Moreover, the paper also cited that nothing can compare to the benefits of a child touching and experiencing the actual object versus swiping and tapping to learn about it on a device.  This has me quite concerned about how many of our youngsters are specifically taught on tablets at school now.

Children with televisions in the bedroom are at greater risk of being and becoming overweight, reports this study.  I may get hate mail for this statement, but:  TVs do not belong in a child’s bedroom. 

And then there’s this……a brand new 2017 study:  This one states that retarded memory, learning and cognition problems, as well as numerous studies on behavioral problems have to attributed to EMF exposure from mobile phones and other electronic devices.  The study even goes so far as to recommend “wired” devices rather than the wireless devices most of us our using. Meaning:  bring the landline and the wired internet connection back if you are going to use the internet and phone.

Not surprisingly, this paper concluded that creating and adopting a physically active environment for children determined how much or little screen time they would engage in. So, therein lies why we as parents must make the loving decision to plan more activity outdoors, exposing our lovely littles to green time and limiting the screen time.  That being said, I’m not finished yet……here is the latest research on just how beneficial “green time” actually is to not only every human body but particularly our children. 

In this study, children fared better with regards to developing myopia (nearsighted-ness) with more emphasis on outdoor play versus indoor activity.

Here a study states that even peer pressure problems are reduced with more outdoor “green time.”

And this one I love, exposing the benefits of outdoor activity in a “natural” environment.  A quote in the study reads, “Compared with exercising indoors, exercising in natural environments was associated with greater feelings of revitalization and positive engagement, decreases in tension, confusion, anger, and depression, and increased energy.

This recent review from 2016 shows how the prescription to avoid the sun should be changed with new research emerging on the benefits of sunlight to build more vitamin D in all populations!

Next up, a study out of Scotland inspired me with the benefit of private garden access and neighborhood natural space. It showed a reduction in social, emotional, and behavioral difficulties Simply by allowing kids access to the outdoors in their area.  Even speaking on how it can help them behave better!

And not surprisingly, this study of Danish children, cited that exposure to sunshine during gestation decreased the prevalence of boys developing Type 1 Diabetes.  That’s right! SUN EXPOSURE PREVENTS DIABETES!

I could go on, but I believe by now, you should be picking up what I’m putting down.  To help our children thrive as nature intended, our childrenNEED intended nature in the form of “green time” rather than so much “screen time”.

Am I saying it’s absolutely necessary to totally forgo screen time altogether?  That is for each parent/guardian to decide and is a very personal choice.  But one that should not be taken lightly.  If nothing else, limits should be set, or electronic curfews given to allow time for sunlight, fresh air, and nature exposure such as walks in the woods, playing in the grass, hiking, biking, and all other forms of outdoor play.  I’ll end my ranting article with a quote from one of the most researched and sought after knowledgeable books in all the world, the bible….

Job 12:7-10 – “However, ask, please, the animals, and they will instruct you; Or give consideration to the earth, and it will instruct you; And the fish of the sea will declare it to you.  Who among all these does not know that the hand of God has done this?  In his hand is THE LIFE of every living thing and the sprit of every human.”  

Read on to find out about some “green time” you can incorporate in some of my upcoming events!

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