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Screen Time Harms Children’s Health!

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The Telegraph reports that research continues to document the hazards of children spending time in front of electronic screens. In a review of 80 published studies, “the World Cancer Research Fund [WCRF] found increasing exposure to smartphones, tablets and gaming consoles in childhood is driving long-term weight gain—identified as one of the key causes of cancer” (November 7, 2018). In fact, obesity in childhood leads to adult obesity. Excess weight has been found to put individuals at risk for 12 different types of cancer. “As well as being linked to lower levels of physical activity, [screen time] appears to dull satiety levels, leading to ‘passive overconsumption’ of snacks—often junk foods, which are often marketed via the same devices.”

Research shows that children average eight hours a day staring at screens. The Telegraph notes that “research by King’s College London found that every hour a day playing computer games raises the risk of short-sightedness by three per cent, an effect dubbed ‘digital myopia.’” Kings College faculty member Chris Hammond warned that working “close-up” with screens and spending so much time indoors was causing harm both to children’s eyesight and their overall physical health: “I think our concept in myopia is clearly that close work is a risk factor, and outdoor activity is protective.” 

God designed childhood as a time of exploration and learning. Young children have abundant energy and a need to play and spend time outdoors. Mounting research continues to support the truth that spending time in God’s creation protects against many diseases and health-related problems. Yet society today is increasingly structured to keep children (and adults) inside, sedentary, and constantly focused on electronic screens. God plans to send Jesus Christ back to earth to establish a world in which the streets “shall be full of boys and girls” playing outside among their neighbors (Zechariah 8:4–5), not stuck behind screens. And King David viewed God’s creation as one of his teachers (Psalm 8:3–6; Psalm 121). To learn more about the wise use of our multiplying electronic devices, read “The Two Faces of Technology.