There is little evidence to back the theory that excessive screen-time could slow brain development, and prevent sufficient sleep in children, and I am becoming increasingly aware of the reasons for this: we will be the evidence. Of course, technology has spiralled since the Spice Girls generation were born, and people like me have seen the rapid development of the internet from dial-up to wireless, mobile data, and mobile phones for that matter, going from being a privilege to a norm. We spent our formative years learning about social media, computers, cameras, smartphones, smartwatches, iPods, iPads, Spotify, Netflix, Amazon Fire, all the rest of it, and we are now watching people ten, fifteen years younger than us, becoming immediately proficient in them. Seeing children on buses with iPhones, toddlers playing with iPads, is scary for us, because we were introduced to these things as a part of growing up, because technology grew with us.
But now, as technology grows beyond us, we stand the first generation to have had such an exposure to said technology whilst our brains have been developing. Though perhaps this happening during our teenage years may not be as potentially damaging as it could be to toddlers, this will still, surely, have had an impact on our development.
Instagram have finally acknowledged that allowing people to see images of slit wrists with hashtags like selfharm and betteroffdead are extremely dangerous to everyone, but particularly to young minds. This should never have had to become implemented, because it should never have been allowed to happen in the first place, and though Instagram is perhaps now a safer place for young people than it was for us, in this respect, there are still so many dangers it poses.
Having access to immediate knowledge is incredible, especially when you’re learning everything about the world, about yourself, and thirsting to know more; having it at your fingertips may make you lazy due to the ease of access, but it might just make you eager. Obviously, this can easily become negative. Young people are bombarded with instant gratification on their physical appearance which is then highlighted, policed, and controlled via airbrushing, photoshopping, and snapchat-filtering. They are able to find out potentially intimate facts about anyone they like, at the click of a button, and equally intimate facts, images, and traits about themselves are just as accessible. It fills me with dread to think that Instagram can detect and remove a picture of female nipples within minutes, but it cannot detect a 14-year-old girl posting a photo of herself in a thong, or a grown man commenting on it: ‘sexy’.
Honestly, I think technological developments are wonderful. I think that the internet is one of the best opportunities we have ever been given; the problem is us. I think it is widely forgotten that there are people behind those screens. People police social media sites, people created them, people post on them, people develop the games that are stopping children from sleeping, and people give them to them to play. People need to make a conscious effort to use the internet for all the good that we can use it for; maybe a child playing on an iPad for 4 hours a day really is unavoidable in 2019, but what we can do to limit the possible damage this may cause, is make sure that what is on those screens, develops their minds in a positive way.