Essential Caution for Digital Exposure – Dr Lalith Mendis
Dr Lalith Mendis is the Founder Director of the Empathic Learning Centre, Colombo and was (formerly) Registrar, Dept of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Colombo & Head of Dept of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, Kelaniya. Being a Gold Medalist from Colombo Medical Faculty, in Medicine, Pathology & Pharmacology – Dr Lalith topped his batch on graduation. He has researched the effect of digital overuse on children & youth and developed empathic therapies to reverse inattention, impulsivity & hyperactivity. Dr Mendis hosts the monthly Digital Forum at his centre and has delivered lectures & conducted seminars on this theme in leading schools & Corporates in Colombo. He has also lectured in Germany, Malaysia & UK. Author of five books on the topic, his books Right Learning & Recovering Childhood, Children Our Heritage & Let the Children Come to Me are in their second print. His books are available from all major bookstores in Colombo. His latest book “Parenting Heart & Brain – in an age of digital domination” has a preface from the former Dean of the Medical faculty of Colombo. “I have been seeing children affected by too much cartoon abuse. This is not about ADHD but normal children with agitation & hyperactivity & inattention in studies”.
Please parent please reduce digital screen.
- Before 2 ½ yrs it scrambles speech
- Reduces 3D touch & sight which promotes brain wiring
- Reduces spatial sense which makes brain brilliant – shapes
- Disturbs sleep – ruins memory
- Inattention – shallow & short attention span (multidirectional firing of neurones – digital stress
- Excess cortisol secretion – fatty liver
- Disturbed appetite – lean to junk food & snacking
- Disturbed dopamine salience & Serotonin satiety
- E-learning does not make brain brilliant. Bottom up regulation rather than top down
- Smart screen dumbs down imagination & thought formation
- Over wiring of kinaesthetic acoustic & visual – they only want to do more cartoons, entertainment, fashion, décor etc.
- Ability to manage logic dumbs down. No desire for professions
- Promote addictions – effect like cocaine\
- Fantastic unrealistic – even spooky ideas, seek thrill & peril
- Collateral damage – porn, violence, magic etc.
- Please give your time to your child & not ore screen
How Digital Screen disturbs sleep & memory –
- Pixel stream stimulates brain like Cocaine disturbing dopamine U curve – D1 is stimulated above physiological norm
- Digital stress inhibits action of serotonin to achieve satiety – as a result serotonin secretion at nerve endings increase causing anxiety disturbing sleep
- Digital screen after 6 pm disrupts melatonin secretion
- Blue light of the screen disrupts melatonin secretion
- Digital stimulation provokes cortisol secretion which reduces the activity of glia cells to remove chemical transmitters from synapses
- Digital stress stimulated D2 receptors which causes background restlessness & impaired working memory
Facing the Truth about Digital Overplay.
When the Market drives – truth obliterates for statins, coconut oil & for learning when market drives e-learning
- Memory for learning is best facilitated when children see letters off printed page. Pixel screen dumbs memory. After browsing chose the best articles, obtain print copies & study with annotations & underlining. True for adults as well
- When young touching letters & seeing letters on print is how brain absorbs language along with hearing words, shapes etc.
- Handwriting is the most brain brilliant thing humans can do. Smart screen has made kids hate handwriting
- Cursives make brain brilliant (Royal Crown copy books as Thomians knew). USA has done away with cursives
- Reading off printed page & hearing stories makes memory & learning
- Research proved that pictures crowd out word learning. What damage cartoons have done!
- Never read or browse on smart phone. Do most of your e-work on laptop & not Ipad or Tab which produce a continual photons stream to hit your retina & sets of multidirectional firing of neurones, reduces working memory, drives dopamine out of homeostatic U curve, increase serotonin in blood & synapses
- Too much digital games also sets up bottom up regulation reducing memory & reinforcing thrill & reward reversal. Reward reversal is when kids or adults have blunted reward motive & move to fantastic, stressful & unpleasant thrills.
Digital Abuse, Drugs & Impaired Cognition
- Children are put on the digital screen
- Research shows that early exposure to digital screen blunts cognition
- Research shows that e-learning methods only make children temporarily smart
- They develop addiction, impulsivity, hyperactivity
- Children are put on drugs
- Disorders are defined to market drugs
- Reports on serious side effects are ignored
- More drugs are prescribed to stop side effects
- A digital world is created to accommodate youth who cannot engage in other leisure
- More digital paraphernalia hit the market creating a massive turnover industry
- Digital world creates jobs in that world for otherwise unemployable youth. These jobs serve no useful purpose in social development
- Market profits at all stages & this generation can be heard driven by the internet for any purpose a future Global Fuehrer has
Learning Curves – Homeostasis
Here’s the pitch today at Alma Mater – too much kinaesthesia stimulation (cartoons, digital games, add on time on LED screen) will suppress learner management tracts (LMT) & overwire Disco brain tracts. You will only get support jobs to advertise, announce & display other people’s success via the screen. If you do LMT well, you will work for your own success.
Learning process for 40 min is supported by Dopamine U curve – moving on to Serotonin U curve for 20 min giving you happy assess. You become open to audit by others also. Too much time on LED screen will destabilise Dopamine U curve with no end to the thrill seeking. From Learner Management cycle (LMC) you have shifted to survival risk cycle (SRC). You are already recruiting neurochemicals kept for emergencies. Whatever you do is right – is your attitude. This makes you vulnerable to external drug stimulus.
Brain works on different tracts that are mediated by different neurochemicals or different receptors. Different concentration of neurochemical acts on a different receptor. Dopamine on D1 or D2. Right concentration of dopamine will act on D1 for normal effect (Homeostasis). D2 stimulation will bring addictive behaviour.
- Executive Empathic action neurochemicals
- Reward Tracts.
- Stress & risk tracts (reactive reflexive)
- Pain – unpleasant tracts (which double up as anti-reward systems)
With too much LED screen kid moves from Executive Empathic to repetitive reactive. Kid is on to vulnerability to addictive behaviour – drugs, porno, gambling, thrill, risk etc.
Digital stimulant effect has 5 components
- Time length of exposure to LED screen – more than 25 min
- Pixel per inch (PPI) of smart phone
- Rate of pixel change in cartoon frame
- Intensity and variability of sound and colour
- Time of exposure effect is more after 6 pm
- Sleep deprivation
- Preserve Screen time for essential study
Appeal to Schools
Parents have to speak to school principals & plead to have scientific talks to staff & kids on the relationship between digital stimulation & drug abuse. “How Much is Too Much”. Schools have to take on responsibility for what happens at home – digital addiction. Parents create the problem. Schools who get children to use Ipad or tab before 12 yrs, must take more care & info on how to prevent digital overdose. Parents must ask schools to include digital safety talks as a part of the curriculum rather than gratis & ad hoc. Most authorities now ask digital medium not to be used until 12 yrs.
It’s been established that screen time in its traditional form—think television and video games—is linked to sleep problems in kids, note researchers in introducing their more specific study: one that, for the first time, looks at touch-screen use among very young children.
What they found is a link to poorer sleep, and it starts as early as infancy. Reporting in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers find that the more kids ages 6 months to 3 years use touch screens during the day, the longer it takes them to fall asleep and the less sleep they log in total.
According to a survey of 715 UK parents, kids 6 to 11 months old use touch screens (in the form of smartphones and/or tablets) an average of 8 minutes a day.
That goes up to 19 minutes for kids ages 12 to 18 months, up again to 25 minutes for kids 19 to 25 months, and up again to 44 minutes for 2-year-olds, reports Live Science.
This addictive effect is why Dr. Peter Whybrow, director of neuroscience at UCLA, calls screens “electronic cocaine” and Chinese researchers call them “digital heroin.” In fact, Dr. Andrew Doan, the head of addiction research for the Pentagon and the US Navy — who has been researching video game addiction — calls video games and screen technologies “digital pharmakeia” (Greek for drug).
Digital Games & Addiction
Some individuals may create on-line personas or “Avatars” where he/she are able to alter his/her identities and pretend to be someone other than himself or herself. Those at highest risk for creation of a secret life are those who suffer from low-self esteem feelings of inadequacy, and fear of disapproval. Such negative self-concepts lead to clinical problems of depression and anxiety.
Many persons who attempt to quit their Game use experience withdrawal including: anger, depression, relief, fantasies about the game, mood swings, anxiety, fear, irritability, sadness, loneliness, boredom, restlessness, procrastination, and upset stomach. Being addicted to video-gaming can also cause physical discomfort or medical problems such as: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, dry eyes, backaches, severe headaches, eating irregularities, such as skipping meals, failure to attend to personal hygiene, and sleep disturbance.
change of neurones from preferred mode firing to non preferred multidirectional firing that reduces working memory & changes in dopamine levels & receptors depend on pixel firing rate of a programme & that is found in games using high pixel turn over – without giving recovery time to neurones. This does not happen with usual work related screen use.
Speech Development – One new finding presented at the 2017 Pediatrics Societies Meeting did find a correlation. The study analyzed over 900 children using parent-reported data on amount of screen time received. The parents reported the screen time of their children at age 18 months. Then, the researchers conducted an evaluation of the children’s development. Using the information reported by parents, researchers found that one-fifth of the children had almost 30 minutes of screen time each day. As screen time increased in some families, children were almost 50 percent more likely to have a speech delay as they developed.
One major concern that doctors have with young children and technology is their interaction with other people. Babies and children under the age of 3 learn primarily by imitating other people. Technology can interfere with the time a child spends observing and imitating, a likely reason for the speech delays.
In addition, the screen time will interfere with bonding between the child and his family members. As he spends more time absorbed in media, even educational media, he will tune out family members and often fight with siblings over the device being used.
A new study, released Thursday and being presented at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting, revealed some striking findings. (04/05/2017)
- The study found that the more time children between the ages of six months and two years spent using handheld screens such as smartphones, tablets and electronic games, the more likely they were to experience speech delays. “I believe it’s the first study to examine mobile media device and communication delay in children,” said Dr. Catherine Birken, the study’s senior investigator and a pediatrician and scientist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario
- Early use of digital screen converts children to visual based learning – making them poor learners when study is verbal based.
- Parental use of smart phones are harsh towards children & that makes children adopt gimmicks to gain attention
- For the most part, children should stay clear of technology in favor of interaction and active play
Why are kids “doing show” & seeking attention from outside? Simple reason is parents didn’t bond with them when young. They bred a generation who looked for attention from outsiders having not got attention from parents. This turns to attention deficit in the class – they prefer pictures, sounds, visuals, kinaesthesia, dance – they seek attention & will “create drama”. They will be dull in normal class studies & parents may condemn them further.
Unhealthy Childhood Caused By Digital Screen
Today’s children are being deprived of the fundamentals of a healthy childhood, such as:
- Emotionally available parents
- Clearly defined limits and guidance
- Balanced nutrition and adequate sleep
- Movement and outdoors
- Creative play, social interaction, opportunities for unstructured times and boredom
Instead, children are being served with:
- Digitally distracted parents
- Indulgent parents who let kids “Rule the world”
- Sense of entitlement rather than responsibility
- Inadequate sleep and unbalanced nutrition
- Sedentary indoor lifestyle
- Endless stimulation, technological babysitters, instant gratification, and absence of dull moments
Ygen pioneered the hand on screen lifestyle, much the way Prof Timothy Leary got a generation to pioneer LSD & drug abuse as experimental science. Ygen were wise to keep some contact with reality & seek employment after graduation from ever widening scope of R/brain Uni degrees – design, graphics, fashion, art, drama, entertainment, events, modelling, hospitality etc. in fact it looked a scoop – generation prepared for the digital revolution. “Market knows”. “Let us make man after the image of digital reality” Next generation I gen (Z gen) got the addictions. They are not seeking employment. Digital games is the career. Fantasy platforms are the reality. Omniscient & pluripotent market steps into create a world in their image – they become prey to digital hara-kiri – blue whale challenge
I-I-L-L (Left Brain) people were 70% & K-M-V (Right Brain) used to be 30%. With the digital revolution KMV expressionists – (kinaesthetic, musical, visual) have dramatically increased – so the explosion of cinema, media, dramatists, fashion, graphics, entertainment, advertisements, cartoons, sports, digital overplus, presenters – more show than do left brain system managements. Also resulting in poor interpersonal & intrapersonal management and reduction of linguistic ability & logical approach plus weak mathematics
Right brain child goes from larger picture to details. She thinks larger picture first. So they are good at décor, fashion, stage set etc. Left brain child goes from details to larger picture. When developed equally a prodigy results. Digital abuse overwires the Right Brain facility & such children can’t do details. Forever they are imagining. Swimming & Music, handwriting help correcting Right & Left brain disparity.
Imbalance in Brain Wiring
- “Normal” child = usual class room learner – this was thought to be the dominant pattern & took the name of dominant hemisphere in 70% = Left brain = management mode, verbal, mathematical, logical
- They had dominance in – Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, Linguistic, Logical/mathematical
- those who had other 3 tracts dominant – Kinaesthetic, Musical, Visual/Spatial (KMV) – were considered right brain = creative, imaginative, dreamy, visual
- When the digital revolution hit the children more than normal were wired dominant in the KMV tracts
Overwiring of Kinaesthetic, Musical, Visual/Spatial
- Generation of whose who show what others do
- Doing decreased – advertising entertainment increased
- Increased Response to Risk Centre – Venteromedial aspect of Prefrontal cortex
- Flight, Fright, Fight
- On edge risk taking generation
- Risk in – finances, gambling, sex, courting danger
Cartoons & digital games over-wire & chemicalise the kinaesthetic, music & visual tracts (formerly called Right Brain activism) – overtaking language, mathematical, logical & relational tracts of the brain (formerly called Left brain activism). You get a child who is always in the realm of the fantastic & is bored with the normal. Present day spooky cartoons introduce even the paranormal resulting in fear, disturbed sleep & depression. Why shouldn’t give daily cartoons or daily digital games is because anything done daily becomes an addictive feeder habit. Somehow make it every other day. Over 30 min of anything wires a tract memory. So limit to less than 30 min.