What is the College’s advice about children overusing technology (phones, personal technologies, television, gaming devices, etc)?
It has been noted by some sources that overuse of any form of technology may lead to problems such as sleep deprivation and addiction. Each of these issues are significant problems caused by a range of often complex issues. Our advice is:
Regular sleep patterns free from disruption of any kind are important to brain function and mental health. This is true of children, adolescents and adults.
We advise against children using any form of bright screen technology before going to sleep as it may impact on melatonin levels. Melatonin is the hormone that controls the body clock, allowing us to sleep. It would appear that bright light creates irregular production of melatonin, changing the body clock and making sleep difficult (refer this article in Scientific American – Bright Screens Could Delay Bedtime).
Highly engaging and emotionally rewarding activities release a chemical in the brain called dopamine that positively rewards behaviour. Excessive participation in any highly rewarding activity can create addictive style behaviour according to some researchers. In all things, therefore, moderation is important.
All things, no matter how good, can be used excessively and this may lead to problems: food (obesity), exercise (exhaustion or injury), reading (eye strain) and technology. In all things, therefore, moderation in use is important and iPads are no different. We do not require the students to use their iPads all the time; it is important and we encourage that they engage in other activities.