The Real Threat of Screen Media That No One is Talking About

That dependence forms the basis for an addiction further fostered as the child grows by parents eager to provide learning experiences in the name of education, and communication devices in the name of safety. As a result, tweens and teens now depend on smartphones to both communicate with friends and achieve preferred status in peer groups. A new level of dependence on technology is reached as the smart device grows with the child’s need: First parent, now friend and even lover. The false sense of reality develops from one of childhood fantasy governed by games and fictional characters to an alternate reality where video conversations are easily deleted and embarrassing photos can never die.

This is where the line between the virtual world and real world become blurred. A recent horror movie illustrates this point perfectly. A gang of friends Facebook-shames one of their own to the point that she commits suicide. One year later on the anniversary of her demise, the friends are all video chatting when they are simultaneously haunted by her ghost. Lights flash, connections go fuzzy and instead of simply getting out of their supposedly haunted homes, they remain locked to their computers, unable to detach from virtual reality to escape their impending doom. I spent the entire preview muttering to my husband, “Why don’t they just pull the plug?” “Then there’d be no movie,” he quipped in response.

The first thing I learned in a Krav Maga class for professional women was to leave my cell phone in my purse while I’m walking. What we justify as multitasking – walking while texting, emailing or using social media – is an action that leaves us vulnerable to assault. By focusing on your phone, you’ve turned yourself off to the world around you and lost your ability to perceive potential threats in your midst. Controlling your children's relationships with screen media may help them lose a few pounds or make a friend, but more importantly it will help them to establish a clear understanding of their relationship to the world around them. Limiting their use of screen media will, most importantly, allow them to develop  their independence so that when they do have to engage with electronic devices they understand that they are the ones in charge.