Category Archives: Tablet Computer Baby Danger

Are smartphones making our children mentally ill?

Leading child psychotherapist Julie Lynn Evans believes easy and constant access to the internet is harming youngsters

By Peter Stanford | 21 Mar 2015

Julie Lynn Evans has been a child psychotherapist for 25 years, working in hospitals, schools and with families, and she says she has never been so busy.

“In the 1990s, I would have had one or two attempted suicides a year – mainly teenaged girls taking overdoses, the things that don’t get reported. Now, I could have as many as four a month.”

And it’s not, she notes, simply a question of her reputation as both a practitioner and a writer drawing so many people to the door of her cosy consulting rooms in west London where we meet. “If I try to refer people on, everyone else is choc-a-bloc too. We are all saying the same thing. There has been an explosion in numbers in mental health problems amongst youngsters.”

The Care Minister, Norman Lamb, has this week been promising a “complete overhaul” of the system that deals with these troubled tweens and teens, after a Department of Health report highlighted the negative impact of funding cuts. And the three main party leaders have all made encouraging pre-election noises about putting more resources into mental health services.

Yet, while the down-to-earth Lynn Evans welcomes the prospect of additional funding, this divorced, Canadian-born mother of three grown up children, isn’t convinced that it is the solution to the current crisis.

The floodgates of desperate youngsters opened, she recalls, in 2010. “I saw my work increase by a mad amount and so did others I work with. Suddenly everything got much more dangerous, much more immediate, much more painful.”

Official figures confirm the picture she paints, with emergency admissions to child psychiatric wards doubling in four years, and those young adults hospitalised for self-harm up by 70 per cent in a decade.

“Something is clearly happening,” she says, “because I am seeing the evidence in the numbers of depressive, anorexic, cutting children who come to see me. And it always has something to do with the computer, the Internet and the smartphone.”

Issues such as cyber-bullying are, of course, nothing new, and schools now all strive to develop robust policies to tackle them, but Lynn Evans’ target is both more precise and more general. She is pointing a finger of accusation at the smartphones – “pocket rockets” as she calls them – which are now routinely in the hands of over 80 per cent of secondary school age children. Their arrival has been, she notes, a key change since 2010.

“It’s a simplistic view, but I think it is the ubiquity of broadband and smartphones that has changed the pace and the power and the drama of mental illness in young people.”

With a smartphone – as opposed to an earlier generation of “brick” mobiles that could only be used to keep in touch with worried parents – youngsters can now, she says, “access the internet without adult supervision in parks, on street, wherever they are, and then they can go anywhere. So there are difficult chat rooms, self-harming websites, anorexia websites, pornography, and a whole invisible world of dark places. In real life, we travel with our children. When they are connected via their smartphone to the web, they usually travel alone”.

She quotes one website that has come up in conversations with youngsters in the consulting room. “I wouldn’t have known about it otherwise, but it is where men masturbate in real time while children as young as 12 watch them. So parents think their children are upstairs in their bedrooms with their friends having popcorn and no alcohol, yet this is the sort of thing they are watching. And as they watch, they are saying, ‘this is what sex is’. It is leaving them really distressed.”

Mums and dads who allow young teenagers to have smartphones – and she wouldn’t say yes until they were 14 – must also take a more active role in policing the use of them, she says, however unpopular it will make them with their offspring.

“I think children should have privacy within their own rooms and in their diaries, and I think they should have the Internet, but I don’t think they should have both, certainly not until they have proved they are completely safe and reliable. So, check their browser history, look at their Facebook, Instagram, and then discuss it with them.

“When they are 15, you don’t, for example, let them go to pub, or stay out in the local park at four in morning, yet they’ll get into much less trouble physically there than they will on their smartphones on the internet. I’m not talking about paedophiles preying on them. I’m talking about anorexia sites and sites where they will be bullied.”

That is where the damage is being done to their mental health, she argues. Harmful, too, is the sheer length of exposure to the virtual world via their smartphones that youngsters have now. Her strong advice to parents is to limit access. “Use it like parents used to use TV with their children. ‘You can watch this but you can’t watch that’, and there’s a watershed. We need that kind of discipline.”

How about just banning it altogether? “I believe that parents who don’t allow the Internet can cause as much damaged as parents who allow too much. Their children are not able to work and play and be with the rest of the children in the playground. It’s has to be about balance, not banning.”

Living so much in a virtual world has other negative consequences, she suggests. It gives young users no time to reflect or learn about the consequences of their actions. “So if you are having a WhatsApp chat with your friends, and it all goes very wrong, you can say to them, ‘I wish you were dead’. Now perfectly nice children find themselves saying, ‘I wish you were dead,’ because they haven’t got time to reflect, and then their words go everywhere. Kindness, compassion, ethics, it’s all out of the window when you are in this instantaneous gossip world with no time to think, and no time to learn about having relationships.”

Parents also need to think about what example they set their children by their own attachment to their smartphones. “We know all about the importance of childhood attachment and good healthy childhood relationships with parents. Yet, if you look in the local park, you see children at a very early age not getting the tender, intense love they used to because their parents are always on their smartphones. Put them down, and be with your kids from day one. They’re not getting what they need from us to build up their core sense of self and that can create the problems I see down the line.”

Julie Lynn Evans is, in one way, a reluctant campaigner. She is keen to point out that this isn’t happening to all children, and that there are other potential causes for the current crisis – “results-driven school programmes”, busy parents and the recession are three she quotes, not to mention “organic” mental health such as schizophrenia.

And, she says, she has enough on her plate, dealing daily with the current crisis in adolescent mental health, without getting drawn into a broader argument about how to tackle its root causes. Indeed, she confesses that two weeks ago she was so exhausted that she even contemplated giving up work altogether.

“I was dealing with a young boy who had just jumped out of a car and run into oncoming traffic. Two psychiatrists and I were tearing our hair out trying to find a safe place to put him. We tried for four hours to find him a hospital bed, and there was nowhere for him no hospital bed available. He ended up going went home and we put in nurses 24 hours a day, but not a lot of people are going to be able to do that. At the end of it, I was so tired I thought I can’t go on”.

What makes her continue, though, in a system that even Normal Lamb has called “broken”, is that what she is witnessing frightens her. And she is speaking out because she believes the problem can be fixed.

She is emphatically not anti-internet, but rather anti- the negative side effects of it on our young. “It is battering our children’s brains. They have no times for the goodies in life – kindness, acceptance, conversation, face-to-face, nature, nurture. They need to find a sense of purpose by connecting with other people, not being on the Internet all the time.”

If parents and schools engage with it openly and together, this can be tackled, she urges. “If we can grab what’s going on by the horns, and do something about it, then I am optimistic. I’m not optimistic, though, if we just say it’s the government ‘s fault and we’ve got to have more money.”

Why Hoboken is Throwing Away All of its Student Laptops

I decided not to teach Adobe Illustrator to Bernie, because of the comments at the end of this article.

AlGoresComputerFetishI have been intensively involved with computers, sometimes for a reason. I have a lot to say.

I read all the posts—unlike most of the ephemeral attention the information tsunami receives. All your comments changed my  mind—I was planning on teaching my 7-year-old granddaughter to use Adobe Illustrator to channel her constant drawing. Now I realize the mistake I was making. I’ll keep her as far as possible away from computers.


Children as young as four are becoming so addicted to smartphones and iPads that they require psychological treatment.

Are smartphones making our children mentally ill?

Leading child psychotherapist Julie Lynn Evans believes easy and constant access to the internet is harming youngsters


The Association of Teachers and Lecturers warn that rising numbers of children are unable to perform simple tasks such as using building blocks because of overexposure to iPads.


Cellphones and other devices emit the “blue light” that works against the sleep process by interfering with melatonin, the chemical in our bodies that promotes sleepiness.

Anecdote: When I was in the 10th grade in 1970, I shared a science-fiction short story I had read with my friends: Like the kids in Hunger Games, rural, disadvantaged kids lacking access to specialized calculating equipment were able to beat elite urban kids in math competition by using traditional paper-based cyphering techniques.

Life imitates art, as a recent news article shows: “FINNS BEAT U.S. WITH LOW-TECH TAKE ON SCHOOL”, Politico 5/27/14 .

“At the start of morning assembly in the state-of-the-art Viikki School in Helsinki, students’ smartphones disappear. In math class, the teacher shuts off the Smartboard and begins drafting perfect circles on a chalkboard. The students — some of the highest-achieving in the world — cut up graphing paper while solving equations using their clunky plastic calculators.” (Read More… )

I trace a lot of this confusion to the indubitable Al Gore, Nobel Peace Prize winner. As Vice-President, he had enormous influence promoting the idea that the mere possession of computers automatically confers educational excellence. (Image: Al Gore as a traditional medicine man dancing with a little computer rattle. )

I’m very happy at Kim from Far Rockaway’s comments, contradicting what I am saying here. I would love it if every teacher were sufficiently conscientious and skilled to be able to ensure her students’ excellence. But I suspect that Kim would succeed with her students under any circumstances.

Why Hoboken is Throwing Away All of its Student Laptops

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Hechinger Report

By Jill Barshay : The Hechinger Report

Inside Hoboken’s combined junior-senior high school is a storage closet. Behind the locked door, some mothballed laptop computers are strewn among brown cardboard boxes. Others are stacked one atop another. Dozens more are stored on mobile computer carts, many of them on their last legs.

That’s all that remains from a failed experiment to assign every student a laptop at Hoboken Junior Senior High School. It began five years ago with an unexpected windfall of stimulus money from Washington, D.C., and good intentions to help the district’s students, the majority of whom are under or near the poverty line, keep up with their wealthier peers. But Hoboken faced problem after problem and is abandoning the laptops entirely this summer.

“We had the money to buy them, but maybe not the best implementation,” said Mark Toback, the current superintendent of Hoboken School District. “It became unsustainable.”

None of the school administrators who initiated Hoboken’s one-to-one laptop program still work there. Toback agreed to share Hoboken’s experiences so that other schools can learn from it. Continue reading

Infants ‘unable to use toy building blocks’ due to iPad addiction

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers warn that rising numbers of children are unable to perform simple tasks such as using building blocks because of overexposure to iPads

Graeme Paton | April 15, 2014

Rising numbers of infants lack the motor skills needed to play with building blocks because of an “addiction” to tablet computers and smartphones, according to teachers.

Many children aged just three or four can “swipe a screen” but have little or no dexterity in their fingers after spending hours glued to iPads, it was claimed.

Members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers also warned how some older children were unable to complete traditional pen and paper exams because their memory had been eroded by overexposure to screen-based technology.

They called on parents to crackdown on tablet computer use and even turn off wi-fi at night to address the problem.

The comments were made after Ofcom figures showed the proportion of households with tablet computers more than doubled from 20 to 51 per cent last year.
Related Articles

Experts have warned that the growth is having a serious effect on children’s social and physical development.

Last year, a doctor claimed that rising numbers of young people – including one aged just four – required therapy for compulsive behaviour after being exposed to the internet and digital devices from birth.

Addressing the ATL annual conference in Manchester, Colin Kinney, a teacher from Northern Ireland, said colleagues “talk of pupils who come into their classrooms after spending most of the previous night playing computer games and whose attention span is so limited that they may as well not be there”.

He added: “I have spoken to a number of nursery teachers who have concerns over the increasing numbers of young pupils who can swipe a screen but have little or no manipulative skills to play with building blocks or the like, or the pupils who cannot socialise with other pupils but whose parents talk proudly of their ability to use a tablet or smartphone.”

Addressing members, he said the “brilliant computer skills” shown by many pupils was “outweighed by their deteriorating skills in pen and paper exams because they rely on instant support of the computer and are often unable to apply what they should have learned from their textbooks”.

The ATL backed plans to draw up new guidance to be issued to teachers and parents showing the “best way forward” when dealing with children who are “addicted” to iPads and iPhones.

Mark Montgomery, a teacher from Northern Ireland, said overexposure to technology had been linked to weight gain, aggressive behaviour, tiredness and repetitive strain injury.

He called on parents to turn home wi-fi off overnight to stop children staying awake to play online games on iPads.

“It is our job to make sure that the technology is being used wisely and productively and that pupils are not making backward steps and getting obsessed and exhibiting aggressive and anti-social behaviours,” he added.

“In the same way we can use a brick to either break a window or build a house, digital technology can be used for good or bad, and teachers can and should help their pupils make positive choices so they have positive experiences.”

Sleep Problems Plague Device Dependent Children

Maureen Mackey
The Fiscal Times
March 3, 2014

It happens to the best of us: We check our smartphones or tablets one last time before we turn in at night – then end up tossing and turning for what feels like an eternity.

That’s because our phones and other devices emit the “blue light” that works against the sleep process by interfering with melatonin, the chemical in our bodies that promotes sleepiness.

It’s no surprise that the same thing is happening to children and grandchildren, with real-world consequences for their health and well-being as well as their school performance. It’s why a new study from the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) says that limiting the use of smartphones and other electronics at night is critical.

The NSF’s 2014 Sleep in America poll asked more than 1,000 parents to estimate how much shut-eye their kids usually get on school nights. The parents estimated 8.9 hours for kids ages 6 to 10-8.2 hours for kids ages 11 and 12, 7.7 hours for 13- and 14-year-olds, and 7.1 hours for teens ages 15 through 17.

Experts recommend far more, however. The NSF recommends 10 to 11 hours of sleep for kids ages 6 to 10 and 8.5 to 9.5 hours per night for kids in the other three age groups.

The glymphatic system (word combination from words for the brain’s glial cells and the lymphatic system) is involved with sleep-time brain waste disposal. During sleep, the space between brain cells normally increases 60% so the glymphatic system can flush away Alzheimer’s-causing amyloid plaque.

The findings are intriguing because more than 9 in 10 parents believe sleep is “extremely or very important” for their children’s performance in school as well as their health, mood and behavior the next day. Yet when parents were asked how much sleep their children need to “be at their best,” 26 percent said that number is at least one hour more than their children are currently getting on school nights.

Parents reported that nearly 75 percent of children ages 6 to 17 have at least one electronic device in their bedroom, with many using those devices right before bedtime.

“To ensure a better night’s sleep for their children, parents may want to limit their [children’s use of] technology in the bedroom near or during bedtime,” said Orfeu Buxton, PhD, Harvard Medical School and a member of the poll’s task force, in a statement.

“We found that when parents take action to protect their children’s sleep, their children sleep better,” added Kristen L. Knutson, PhD, of the University of Chicago.

Among the foundation’s tips:

  • Make sleep a priority in the family’s busy schedule.
  • Set – and keep – consistent bedtimes for your children and yourself.
  • Monitor your children’s use of electronics in their bedroom. Set boundaries.
  • Create a “sleep-supportive” environment by dimming the lights before bedtime and controlling the room temperature (temps above 75 degrees and below 54 tend to interfere with sleep).
  • Encourage activities such as reading or listening to music before bedtime – instead of TV, video games, or surfing the web.

The study also found that kids whose parents have healthy sleep environments have healthier sleep environments themselves. Nearly two thirds of kids (65 percent) whose parents had one or more electronic devices in the bedrooms also had at least one device in their own bedroom.

How the iPad replaced the toy chest: Researchers find children play with touchscreens more than traditional toys


Toddlers becoming so addicted to iPads they require therapy

Doctors Raise Red Flag: Young Children Should Avoid Using Tablets
Tablets a Hit With Kids, but Experts Worry

  • More than 60% of parents claiming that their child uses a touchscreen
  • Most popular use is games
  • Increasingly they have their own device

By Mark Prigg

PUBLISHED: 14:34 EST, 21 February 2014 | UPDATED: 18:15 EST, 21 February 2014

See the full presentation

The touchscreen has overtaken every other toy for children, new research has found.

The poll found more than 60% of parents claiming that their child uses a touchscreen.

They have overtaken dolls, action figures, board games and other traditional toys – and experts say their popularity is still rocketing.

Touchscreens have overtaken every other type of toy to become the most popular way children play, researchers have found

Touchscreens have overtaken every other type of toy to become the most popular way children play, researchers have found

‘I have never seen a more intuitive technology for children,’ said Michael Cohen.

His firm, the Michael Cohen Group (MCG) today released the results of its recent nationwide survey, which polled 350 parents about the play habits of their children 12 and younger.

Touchscreen devices got the most overall playtime according to the poll, with more than 60 percent of parents claiming that their child uses a touchscreen ‘often’ and roughly 38 percent claiming ‘very often.’

‘Touchscreens are the primary play activity now,’ he said.Touchscreens take over: Researchers say the screen is now the most popular form of play in the US

Touchscreens take over: Researchers say the screen is now the most popular form of play in the US

He said the rise of the touchscreen has been incredible.

‘We’ve been tracking children for around 30 years.

‘I’ve never seen the world changing as fast as it is now. It took 30 years for TV to be accessible to everyone – this is the most rapid introduction of a technology we’ve witnessed.’

Researchers found that over 70% of children in all income levels are living in homes with smartphones, and over 55% with tablets.

Increasingly they also have their own device.

‘Of the kids who have access, 36% own their own device – and that was in single digits last year,’ said Cohen.

‘That figure will skyrocket.’What children are doing on their touchscreen: Gaming is the most popular activity

What children are doing on their touchscreen: Gaming is the most popular activity

The team looked at what the children were doing with their device.

‘These are children from birth to 12, we see game playing is the most frequent use, at over 60%.

‘There is learning, and that overlaps with games. But when we talk to children, gaming is the number one activity they want.’

The study also found watching videos, movies and communicating were popular – as well as utilities such as weather apps.

‘Primarily, as it should be, kids are using their touchscreens to play,’ said Cohen.

Touchscreens beat toys that have been around for decades, such as dolls and action figures, arts and crafts, and construction-based toys, all of which had a roughly 50 percent usage rate on the poll.

Gaming consoles had a usage rate of a bit less than 50 percent, with other children’s staples such as vehicles, puzzles, and board games landing closer to 40 percent.

The poll reveals that 10 percent of parents ‘always’ consider touch devices as playthings, while 58 percent considered them ‘sometimes’ toys.

The remaining 32 percent claimed that mobile devices should never be put in the same category as physical play products.

Tablets a Hit With Kids, but Experts Worry

NEW YORK December 24, 2013 (AP)
By BREE FOWLER AP Technology Writer

Tablet computers are so easy to use that even a 3-year-old can master them.

And that has some pediatricians and other health experts worried.

Since navigating a tablet generally doesn’t require the ability to type or read, children as young as toddlers can quickly learn how to stream movies, scroll through family photos or play simple games.

That ease-of-use makes tablets —and smartphones— popular with busy parents who use them to pacify their kids during car rides, restaurant outings or while they’re at home trying to get dinner on the table. And many feel a little less guilty about it if they think there’s educational value to the apps and games their children use.

The devices are expected to rank among the top holiday gifts for children this year. Gadget makers such as Samsung have introduced tablets specifically designed for kids and many manufacturers of adult tablets now include parental controls. Those products are in addition to the slew of kiddie tablets produced by electronic toy makers such as LeapFrog, Vtech and Toys R Us.

But some experts note there’s no evidence that screen time — whether from a TV or tablet — provides any educational or developmental benefits for babies and toddlers. Yet it takes away from activities that do promote brain development, such as non-electronic toys and adult interaction. Continue reading

Doctors Raise Red Flag: Young Children Should Avoid Using Tablets

November 14, 2013

ROSEDALE, Md. (WJZ) — Tablets and toddlers: A warning for parents of tech-savvy children. The American Academy of Pediatrics says children under two should avoid all screen time.

Jessica Kartalija reports doctors and therapists fear too much time on touchscreens could cause long-term damage.

Playtime for babies is far different in the 21st century. But parents could be making a big mistake putting touchscreens in the hands of toddlers and young children.

Parents think they’re educating and stimulating their kids, but doctors and therapists are raising a red flag — too much screen time can hurt their developing bodies.

“If they are always on the iPad and not actually doing those paper pencil activities that they should still be doing, those muscles are going to remain weaker,” said occupational therapist Lindsay Marzoli, Learning and Therapy Corner. Continue reading

Toddlers becoming so addicted to iPads they require therapy

By | 4:29PM BST April 21, 2013

Children as young as four are becoming so addicted to smartphones and iPads that they require psychological treatment.

Children are increasingly being babysat tablets and smartphones, researchers claim

Children are increasingly being babysat by tablets and smartphones, researchers claim.

Experts have warned that parents who allow babies and toddlers to access tablet computers for several hours a day are in danger of causing “dangerous” long term effects.

The youngest known patient being treated in the UK is a four-year-old girl from the South East.

Her parents enrolled her for compulsive behaviour therapy after she became increasingly “distressed and inconsolable” when the iPad was taken away from her.

Her use of the device had escalated over the course of a year and she had become addicted to using it up for to four hours a day.

Dr Richard Graham, who launched the UK’s first technology addiction programme three years ago, said he believed there were many more addicts of her age. Continue reading