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A Fine For Too Much Screen Time?

January 29th, 2015

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto.com

How much time do you spend in front of a screen each day playing video games, surfing the internet, texting, posting to social media, and watching TV?

Do you have limits for how much time you’re allowed?

Taiwan wants to fine parents whose kids have too much screen time, up to $1,595!

According to  reports , Taiwan’s government recently approved the new regulation.

Taiwan?  Taiwan (pronounced: Ty-won) is an island very near China with a complicated status . It’s not exactly its own country, but it’s not exactly independent either. China claims Taiwan to be part of China. Taiwan, however, has its own democratic government more like the United States’. Its economy and history, though, are intertwined with China’s and most people in Taiwan speak Mandarin (Chinese). To complicate matters further, even within Taiwan there are conflicting beliefs about whether Taiwan should be its own country.

Map credit: Bigstockphoto.com

Back to the story …

How much screen time can get you fined? It’s not clear.

And how will they enforce it, especially if much of your screen time is in the privacy of your home? Also not clear.

So why do this?

They say it’s for health reasons, that having too much screen time is like smoking or drinking too much alcohol — bad for you.

Here in the U.S. …

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reports that many kids average 7 hours of some form of screen time or other … per day! That’s two entire days (48+hours) each week! That’s almost a third of an entire year, each year. Yikes!

The AAP recommends no more than an hour or two every day. And none for children under the age of two. Two dimensional screens in a three-dimensional tactile world + our the way our brains are wired = a seemingly bad mix.

The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood recommends a screen-free week each year.

But even if kids spend too much time watching screens, should the government be able to make decisions about your screen time? (What do you think?)

The Taiwanese government believes that if it’s a health concern, then yes.

New York City’s former mayor Michael Bloomberg tried to ban serving too much soda  (which went over like a fart in a spaceship with New Yorkers). Many people thought he went too far, that these are decisions people can and should make for themselves (even if they’re bad ones). Mr. Bloomberg’s argument was that he was just trying to help. And since there’s is an obesity problem in the U.S., people may need some help.

Image: Bigstockphoto.com

An excerpt recently in The Guardian from a book called The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload , written by neuroscientist, Daniel Levitin, explains that screen time, especially when it involves little snippets of your attention like when you text or are on Facebook, can be an actual addiction, making it extremely difficult to set limits for yourself.

The parts of your brain that seek novelty (something new and shiny) enjoys it (really, really enjoys it) … so much so that it triggers a chemical in your brain sending a signal that it keeps wanting more. That’s tough to overcome. That’s why most of us like to (or feel like we must) keep checking our email, texts, and see what’s new on social media. And he argues that it’s similar to when people have a gambling or alcohol addiction. Experts are now saying that sugar may also fall into this category .

Mr. Levitin, says that after too much multitasking on our smartphones, we “literally deplete the nutrients in our brain,” adding that, “it is the ultimate empty-caloried brain candy.” Not good.

Think this doesn’t apply to you? There’s an app called Moment , that helps track how much time you’re actually on your smartphone. Yes, there’s even an app for that, and you may be surprised…

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