Numerous voices have emerged in the last two years to warn us about the effects of digital screen addiction on children. These voices include Adam Alter in his book “Irresistible”, Nicholas Kardaras in his book “Glow Kids”, Jean Twenge in her Atlantic Monthly “iGen” article, Delaney Ruston in her film “Screenagers”, and Anderson Cooper in his 60 Minutes “Brain Hacking” segment.

They have told us that our screens are as addictive as any drug, that they fragment children’s attention, consume an inordinate amount of their time, isolate them from others, reduce the time they spend exercising, cut into their sleep, reduce the quality of their study and learning, diminish their cognitive functioning, and make them anxious and depressed.

They have told us that tech companies have a deep understanding of the mechanisms of screen addiction, and that they use this understanding to make apps super-addictive. Facebook co-founder Sean Parker affirmed this point in November during an interview with Axios in which he said that Facebook was all about “…how do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible (by) exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology. We understood this consciously, and we did it anyway.”

Next page: Five things to consider when it comes to screen addiction

About the Author:

Michael Mercier is President of Screen Education, a non-profit organization dedicated to addressing screen addiction through research, education, and consulting.  Its seminar for schools provides a framework for understanding screen addiction, and strategies for addressing it.  You can reach him at Michael.Mercier@ScreenEducation.org.


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