Long before the advent of smartphones, physicians cautioned about the negative health effects of excessive television viewing.  A 2005 study stated: “Weekend TV viewing in early childhood continues to influence BMI in adulthood. Interventions to influence obesity by reducing sedentary behaviors must begin in early childhood.”   Higher screen time in adolescence was associated with higher odds of select indicators of cardio-metabolic disease in adulthood.”  

The proliferation of computers, tablets, and smartphones over the last decade, (and certainly during the pandemic) has exacerbated the problems that screens pose. They encompass more than the sedentary behaviors that contribute to obesity. Screens have been implicated in sleep disturbance and mental health issues. “Suicide rates have increased over the past decade, and screen media (and social media in particular) are often blamed for this marked increase.”  The negative consequences of introducing young children to electronic devices cannot be overstated. “Recent brain imaging research is showing that they affect the brain’s  frontal cortex- which controls executive functioning, including impulse control—in exactly the same way that cocaine does . . .  This addictive effect is why Dr. Peter Whybrow, Director of Neuroscience at UCLA calls screens “electronic cocaine.”

Most schools nationwide utilize devices for instruction. “Ninety-four percent of schools are giving laptops and tablets to students who need them,” despite studies that indicate the danger of digital addiction. Moreover, research has suggested that reading comprehension is better with printed books.  

The population’s current exposure to microwave emissions produced by cell-phones, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, and 5G towers is almost unavoidable.  “The American Academy of Pediatrics, has repeatedly warned of children’s greater vulnerability to this wireless radiation and recommends that families reduce exposure.”

Long term effects may still be unknown. The risks of excessive use of electronics certainly  outweigh any benefits. Limit use of devices for better physical and mental health.  


Laura Maniglia