Ask any parent or caregiver today – it’s not easy to get a child or teen hyper-focused on their device or game  to put it down.  What are hours spent per day on digital media doing to attention spans, multitasking skills, and cognitive functions such as memory? How are platforms designed to maximize children’s time online for advertising revenue affecting the ways children are thinking about and interacting with the “real” world around them? 

Children and Screens hosted the #AskTheExperts webinar “Driven to Distraction: Media Use, Attention, and Cognition” on Wednesday, April 10, 2024. Nicholas Carr and other expert panelists discussed recent and developing research into the complexities of focus, attention, cognitive development and more.


  • Nicholas Carr

    Author, Journalist
  • Susanne Baumgartner, PhD

    Associate Professor, Amsterdam School of Communication Research
  • Taína Coleman, MA, MEd

    Educational Specialist, Learning and Development Center, Child Mind Institute
  • Tzipi Horowitz-Kraus, PhD

    Associate Professor, Educational Neuroimaging Group, Faculty of Education in Science and Technology, Faculty of Biomedical Engineering, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology
  • Tracy Markle, MA, LPC

    Founder & Director, Digital Media Treatment & Education Center, Collegiate Coaching Services

Digital media and technology are able to both fully captivate children’s attention as well as suddenly distract them during a focused task. The powerful effects of these devices on children’s attention raise concerns about impacts to children and adolescents’ short-term focus and long-term cognitive development. In this #AskTheExperts webinar, a group of panelists discussed the effects of media on children’s brains, digital media overuse and media multitasking and their implications for child development across ages and stages.

0:00 Introduction

Kris Perry, MSW, Executive Director of Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development, introduces the webinar and panel moderator, Nicholas Carr, acclaimed author and thought leader who examines the human consequences of technology. Carr briefly discusses the modern attention crisis, and how children and adults struggle with the distractions brought about by screens.

05:56 Tzipi Horowitz-Kraus, PhD

Tzipi Horowitz-Kraus, PhD, Associate Professor of Education in Science and Technology at Technion Israel Institute of Technology, discusses the development of the “attention network” in early childhood and impacts from exposure to media. She shares recent research detailing differential impacts of in-person versus screen reading to children’s attention networks, and a new study demonstrating the impact of a nearby smartphone to task-based attention. Horowitz-Kraus concludes with a review of the importance of early childhood experiences on long-term development and shares tips for families to protect and promote optimal attention network development.

19:57 Tracy Markle, MA, LPC

Tracy Markle, MA, LPC, Founder and Co-director of Digital Media Treatment and Education Center and its affiliate company Collegiate Coaching Services, explores the relationship between digital media use and brain development during adolescence. She discusses 5 types of digital media overuse, how media use interacts with different regions of the brain, and how excessive device use can structurally and functionally change the brain. She also provides concrete recommendations to support healthy adolescent development with activities beyond screens that promote cognitive and mental health.

32:47 Taina Coleman, MA, MEd

Taina Coleman, MA, MEd, Educational Specialist in the Learning and Development Center at the Child Mind Institute, discusses considerations for children with ADHD. She describes key executive functions impacted by ADHD and the visible effects on daily functioning. She discusses the research on screen time and ADHD, including general considerations and concerns for media use, including the exacerbation of existing symptoms and the possible roles of developmental task displacement and sleep hygiene in development of mental health issues . She recommends a Family Media Plan, and reviews the process for creating one. To conclude, Coleman discusses the importance of balanced technology-use and media literacy in schools.

50:20 Dr. Susanne Baumgartner, PhD

Susanne Baumgartner, PhD, Associate Professor at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research at the University of Amsterdam, shares her research on media multitasking and its long term effects on adolescents’ attention. She explores both short- and long-term effects of media multitasking and when digital distractions may be most problematic. She describes the results of a longitudinal study exploring the link between media multitasking and attention problems, academic distractibility, and academic performance across adolescence.

01:02:37 Q&A

Dr. Carr brings the panelists back together to answer a series of questions from the live audience. The panelists discuss school technology policies that ban phone use, parental monitoring of technology across development, and what exactly is meant by “excessive” when it comes to children’s digital media use. The panelists also discuss the challenge of using longitudinal studies to study something that is changing so quickly.

[Kris Perry]: Hello and welcome to today’s Ask the Experts Webinar: “Driven to Distraction: Media Use Attention and Cognition.” I am Kris Perry, Executive Director at Children and Screens, Institute of Digital Media and Child Development. We have all witnessed that moment, either in our children or in ourselves, when a captivating TV show or game grabs our attention so fully that we are oblivious to the world around us. Or when you’re focused on work, a conversation or anything at all, and a single ding from your phone distracts you immediately. How do attention grabbing devices and designs affect youths’ experience online, and what impact does that have on the development of attention and other critical cognitive skills across childhood and adolescence? We have an outstanding panel of experts with us today to discuss this and so much more. Now, I would like to introduce you to today’s moderator. Nicholas Carr is an acclaimed author who writes about the human consequences of technology. His books, including the Pulitzer Prize finalist and New York Times bestseller The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains have been translated into more than 25 languages. He has recently been a visiting professor of sociology at Williams College, and earlier in his career was Executive Director, Executive Editor of the Harvard Business Review. In 2015, he received the Neil Postman Award for Career Achievement and Public Intellectual Activity from the Media Ecology Association. Welcome, Nick. 

[Nicholas Carr]: Thanks very much, Kris. It’s a pleasure and an honor to be able to participate in today’s webinar. We’re talking about such an important topic and we have a really distinguished panel who can lead us through the research and hopefully separate some of what we’re not sure about from what we’re sure about and go on to how we can act on this knowledge. I think by now most of us understand that we’re in something of an attention crisis. The reason we understand that is because we feel it individually. We’re going to be focusing today, of course, on children, but this affects everyone, including adults. I think we all struggle with all the distractions and interruptions that flow through our screens. Now, human beings are distractible by nature. Anything new in our environment, in our surroundings, tends to grab our attention no matter what else we might be doing. There’s always been lots of distractions going on around us. I think what’s new is that on top of all those existing distractions, we’ve laid this new environment in which we live, the digital or virtual environment, in which there are no end to new and interesting things, often things of a social nature coming toward us or available to us. We now carry…by carrying our smartphones around with us, we have constant access to all this information and we know it’s there, so it’s very, very hard to avoid being pulled in by the information. I would argue that with this digital environment, and particularly with our phones, we’ve created something unprecedented, an unprecedented technology in human history that is fundamentally geared to grabbing our attention. This is a particular, as I said, this influences all of us, but I think it’s a particular problem or issue for children because attentiveness is not something that comes to us naturally. We’re naturally distractible, so we have to learn how to pay attention. We do that in our younger years by engaging in activities that require… that focus our attention. Practicing that over and over again. That’s the only way you learn how to pay attention. The reason it’s so important is that when we talk about paying attention, what we’re really talking about is the skill of controlling our minds. When you pay attention, you are choosing what you think about what you look at, what, what, what your mind focuses on. We’re going to talk about the importance of that ability, that skill in controlling our minds for cognition, mainly today, but I want to emphasize that however important cognition is, learning to think, learning to think at our top possibility, the ability to pay attention, the ability to focus and concentrate, really opens up all sorts of opportunities for a full life as we go through childhood, in adolescence and into adulthood. It not only, I think, helps us in school, in learning and other cognitive challenges, but it helps us if we want to be in sports or if we want to be a scientist or if we want to be an artist or if we want to be a politician. All of these professions and avocations require the ability to control our own mind and not let the environment or our phones or the digital distractions determine what we think about, so this is a crucial issue, and we’re going to look at it now from four different but interrelated perspectives and four experts on the topic. First up is Tzipi Horowitz-Kraus. Tzipi is an associate professor in the Faculty of Education in Science and Technology in the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, where she also heads the Educational Neuroimaging group. She’s also an associate professor at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Tzipi is going to discuss, in particular, attention in digital media in early childhood. Thank you.

[Dr. Tzipi Horowitz-Kraus]: Thank you so much for the nice introduction. I will share my presentation: Attention to Digital Media and Early Education. We will start, first of all, with the disclosures. Here they are. Today, in a really short time, I will try to touch upon the most pressing issues and the exposure of media to young children. I will start with a short introduction on the development and engagement of attention in cognitive control regions and early childhood. Then I will talk about the disengagement of these brain networks while the children are exposing – are exposed to screen. What is the Attention Network? The Attention Network is a general term for a set of processes necessary for cognitive control and for learning, and they are composed of two main components or systems. The first one is the attention system. It is called system one. It is bottom up. It is the very quick to respond system and it is aimed to create an alertness when we hear something or see something and to orient our attention towards a specific stimulus. The other system is much slower and is related to slower processes like memory and error detection. This is also referred to as executive functions. In the neuroimaging field today, we know how to recognize these networks, the networks related to these two systems in the brain. We can look at brain networks here in the bottom related to attention to attention systems and neural networks related to executive functions. How early do these networks develop? As early as at birth. We can see from our studies that the participation of executive functions during stories, listening totally passive stories listening, starts already at the age of 18 months, and it gradually processes this information through the ears when children are listening to stories as young as possible, and then it increases its involvement with age. I refer to development as magic, and this is why I chose this area of research to be my profession. In the lab we’re looking at the engagement of attention and executive functions in activities that are crucial to child development in an academic success. Literacy exposure, understanding language, and then reading development. I call this one version one because the child in the normal track of development, the child is exposed to interaction with the parents, to storytelling, to language, to interaction around it, and then these activities are related then to academic skills. However, in version two, we sometimes see a lack of engagement in these activities, and we are interested to know how this affects the brain. So for version one, we don’t have time doing this presentation. We will focus on version two, which means the disengagement of cognitive control and the tension that networks during screen exposure. We really, really wanted to know what is it about the screen versus interaction with a person during story listening in 4 to 5 years old children? Is it just the language exposure or is it something else that is related to the ability of children to learn while listening to a story? We created an intervention study with children participating in an interactive dialogic reading activity when there is a storyteller telling stories and engaging with questions, and another condition where the children listen to the same exact stories on the screen. We test them that- We tested their brain activation before and after using an EEG device. What we found is that the level of one part of executive function called inhibition, the ability to inhibit my responses, and some markers related to visual attention, to attend my visual system to the relevant stimuli, got extremely and significantly improved following the dialogic reading training, whereas in children in the screen exposure or well, they’re listening to their stories via a screen, we did not see any effect. Then we ask ourselves, “well, is it just the stories that are being flipped or is there something else?” While children are listening to stories, that engages the attention system in young children. Here we use an MRI and a specific methodology called functional MRI, which enables us to look at the brain function while the kids are doing a certain activity. We took two conditions. One condition imitates a person telling a story to a child back on a screen with pages and audio recording and another condition where the children were watching a movie in the MRI. In that condition, we kind of replicated a situation where children are just watching a movie on the television. The two conditions were matched for a difficulty and illustration level. We were very surprised to see that when children were watching basically something that was similar to a book reading, pictures with audio, they engaged their attention system that you see here in the front and their visual system that you see here in the back much more, as opposed to a condition of watching a video. We were surprised because when you watch a video, then your visual system is more triggered, it’s more stimulated. However, it seems that for children it is less engaging. It kind of keeps their brain more passive when they’re just watching a video on the screen versus when they have to imagine the story and really allocate their attention to the book when they’re flipping pages and they listen to a story. We also found brain structure changes in young children exposed to more screen time at the age of 3 to 5, where we found decreased organization of the connections between the attention system, visual processing regions and language processing regions that are super extremely crucial for language processing in academic skills. I don’t think I have lots of time, but I really want to talk about this particular freshly new study where we place a smartphone next to children participating in a very simple reaction time task. They’re seeing cars and they need to push the button when they see a blue car and when they see a red car. It’s relatively simple, but we had two conditions. One condition when the smartphone was next to them and in the other condition, the smartphone was away. Now, there are some behavioral studies like that looking at this phenomenon, we see that the device is distracting. However, in this study, we used EEG, so we measured brain activation during these two conditions to see whether we do find some neurobiological markers for attention decrease. We actually found exactly this when the smartphone was present, there was a brain activity that was similar to what we expected in children with attention difficulties. Although these children were typically developing children, they did not have attention difficulties as compared to the same children doing the same exact task when there was no smartphone in the area. Last but not least, we wanted to see whether there is a difference between children reading from a screen versus when they read from print. We found that there is a difference between the conditions and when children are reading from the printed page, they show better attention allocation towards the print versus when they read not the same text, but similarly related texts on the screen. We saw that in kids that are 7 to 8 years old. So are we progressing or regressing? We are afraid that using a screen and other studies that they didn’t have the time to show now, there is an engagement of the screen of brain regions that are associated with reading and academic skills, and there is a disengagement of these regions while children are exposed to screen. So to sum up, attention and executive functions are involved in language and in reading development. Screen time is related to less stimulation of executive functions, less reliance on imagination and visualization, interruptions, and greater attention load as I showed in the reading related study. Brain regions used during screen exposure may compete with those used for literacy in reading. Reading from a screen may be less efficient than from print. Neurobiological correlates for attention and cognitive load are observed. And this is really the beginning of an era. We still don’t have all the answers, and we really, really need longitudinal studies to have more information about the long term effect. Some advice and tips: read your child. Passive screen viewing doesn’t engage attention as interactive storytelling and creates print based reading in young ages. Reading from the screen and from the paper is not the same thing, especially for young children. Last but not least, smartphones should be set aside while doing homework or any kind of activity that you really want to focus at. Smartphone’s existence is distracting. These are my acknowledgments and thank you so much for your attention. 

[Nicholas Carr]: Great. Thank you to Tzipi. Very interesting and very concerning. I want to ask: do we know…you’ve shown evidence of how digital media and smartphones can influence, as you said, the engagement of the attention centers top down attention centers, executive function, how it influences brain activation, how it influences even brain structure with the white matter and so forth. Do we know how important these early childhood experiences are over the longer term? Does this lack of engaging the attention functions, would that have a long term effect or is it just something that happens in early childhood? 

[Dr. Tzipi Horowitz-Kraus]: This is an amazing question, and I think that the simple answer is we don’t, as I said earlier, we don’t have longitudinal studies to look at children exposed to media starting from birth and onwards to the age of 18 to over 21 to see how their brain develops differently from those who are exposed to less screen time. However, what I can tell you is that we know that these brain regions related to attention allocation, related to visualization, as I said and as I showed earlier, there is also a lack of engagement of visual regions, which is kind of absurd because we see the information, so why do we have an engagement of visual regions? Kids are not requested or required to imagine anything when they’re exposed to screens, right?

All information is handed to them. There is less triggering of these regions. Kids are maybe losing their ability to use their imagination. These exact regions are then critical for reading development and we know that these regions are critical for reading development. It is important we know that the triggering of these regions are extremely important. Unfortunately, we still don’t know what the long term consequences of this early, early exposure to screen on brain development. 

[Nicholas Carr]: Great. Well, thank you very much. Next up, this is Tracy Markle. Tracy’s a digital media addiction treatment expert and educator. She’s been specializing in the field of digital media overuse and addiction since 2009. She’s the founder and co-director of Digital Media Treatment and Education Center and its affiliate company Collegiate Coaching Services. Tracy now is going to move along the timeline and focus more on adolescents. So, Tracy, go ahead. 

[Tracy Markle]: Okay. Thank you so much, Nick. Thank you to Children and Screens for inviting me here today and to everybody who is present for this really important webinar. Okay. Let’s start with generally speaking, people of all ages commonly struggle to manage their time when on devices and adolescents are a vulnerable group to overuse and they commonly develop problematic behaviors associated with these five types of digital media overuse, or, and as you may hear me say throughout the presentation today, I refer to it as DMO. These include gaming, pornography, social media, compulsive spending, and information overload. Of the five types of DMO, information overload is our highlight today because it has a direct relationship to teens and their ability to develop and access important cognitive skills required for academics and life management success, such as attentional control, cognitive flexibility and emotional regulation. What is information overload? Information overload is the excessive input of information, which is more than the human brain can analyze, process, think deeply about, and comprehend, and this occurs on an immersive screen, like a smartphone and a computer. If these devices are always accessible, teens quite literally have 24/7 access for searching, posting, gaming, checking, binging, shopping, viewing and texting and receiving notifications. One study found that the typical adolescent gets 237 notifications a day, or roughly 15 every waking hour. This overstimulation causes mental fatigue and scrambled thinking. Now, it’s important to note that adolescents struggle to control their use of devices and apps, not because they’re lazy, they’re trying to be defiant. It’s mostly due to brain science. Starting in early adolescence and peaking midway through, a developed reward system causes adolescents to gravitate towards thrilling experiences and exciting sensations. Meanwhile, the executive control center, the prefrontal cortex, where the all important executive functioning skills reside, are still developing and will be for several more years. That’s the dark blue section that you see on the picture. The reward system drives teens towards pleasurable stimuli, like receiving likes on Instagram or obtaining a medallion in Fortnite, which results in the release of dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter in our brain that motivates us to continue to engage in the pleasurable, rewarding behavior. The reward system drives teens away from behaviors that feel painful to them, mundane and tedious, and require more energy or effort, such as figuring out how to manage a conflict with a friend or doing homework. If allowed, digital devices and apps went out every time over homework and doing chores because they produce pleasurable stimuli that the brain seeks. It might be helpful to think of the teenage brain like a car and the reward center, the car’s accelerator, propelling the car along the highway. The prefrontal cortex is the steering wheel and the brakes. Unfortunately, the car has a very good accelerator, the rewards system, but it comes with weak brakes, the prefrontal cortex, which is not fully developed. In the meantime, it’s important to ensure that you’re doing what you can to protect the prefrontal cortex development from digital media overuse so that you can support the development of really important executive function cognitions, like impulse control and making good decisions. Now, let’s take a brief look at how excessive use of devices over a sustained period of time is associated with structural and functional changes in the adolescent brain. A growing body of evidence has found that children’s brains can structurally and functionally change due to prolonged media multitasking, such as diminished gray matter and the prefrontal cortex, where attentional control and complex decision making abilities reside, among other really important skills, like the development of empathy and understanding nonverbal social communication. Excessive screen time impacts the development of critical thinking skills. Visual media, the common type of media found online, doesn’t allow for reflection, analysis, and imagination. If a teen has easy regular access to quickly turn to Siri or Google when they’re struggling for an answer, they do instead of thinking about it deeply and talking to other people. Reading real books does allow for reflection, analysis, and building imagination. Now, let’s talk about recommendations to support healthy adolescent development and minimize screen time. Teens who are 13 to 18 need approximately 8 to 10 hours per night of sleep. Yet most teens get much less. Teens are chronically sleep deprived, and with the advent of smart technology, it’s causing them to not get enough rest. As you can see on the slide, high quality sleep fosters many important areas and low quality sleep hinders these and much more. My number one recommendation regarding where to start to support a more balanced digital media plan is by not allowing Internet based screens at least an hour before bedtime as the blue light of the screen inhibits the release of melatonin, which helps us fall asleep, and not allowing any devices in the bedroom so you can promote an environment that fosters high quality sleep. Feeling connected to others in real life really is the best medicine. Neuroscience refers to this as limbic resonance. This is the release of neurochemicals in the limbic region of the brain and occurs when two or more people are interacting in a face to face caring and safe relationship. Now, these chemicals are necessary for a full emotional well-being and physical well-being. And without this process occurring regularly, teens have an increased risk for loneliness, low self-esteem, anxiety and depressive symptoms. We want to prioritize in-person activities over screen based activities. Too much screen time isolates teens from in-person connections that promote overall health and wellness. Just one hour per day in the green outdoors provides many health benefits for teens. I encourage that you support your teen to build in one hour per day, at least some outdoor time into their daily schedule. By doing this, and as you can see on the screen, you support them in many key areas, such as better school performance, more friends, and an improved attention span and mood. We know that teens are happier with less screen time and less happy with more screen time. These activities are found to be good replacements for teens who spend too much time gaming. We have found through our practical experience that the needs of teens often get met playing video games, such as a sense of competence, social connection, and autonomy, as well as an interest in strategy and team play, can be successfully transferred to these three activities. As you can see, rock climbing, ultimate Frisbee, and in-person chess. That completes my presentation today. Just briefly want to review the services that I provide along with my team members. Now, briefly, my- the research arm of Digital Media Treatment and Education Center has created what’s called the Digital Media Overuse Scale. It’s for 18 and older, so older adolescents. This scale is pretty amazing. It’s actually a new instrument designed to index problematic overuse of digital media while remaining capable of adapting to the ever changing digital media landscape as they emerge. If you have an interest in learning more about that, don’t hesitate to reach out and you can read more about that in Technology, Mind and Behavior, an APA open journal. Now, Digital Media offers virtual services across the country as well as in-person if you live in Colorado. Its affiliate company does as well, and we primarily focus on executive function coaching and mental health support with keeping screens in mind and how to manage them in a healthy, successful way. Okay. Thank you so much. 

[Nicholas Carr]: Thanks very much, Tracy. A quick question. We don’t have much time, but you mentioned- you talked about the importance of kids, teenagers getting together in person. What we know from research is that today’s teenagers are actually much less likely to get together in person than in the past. Also, in fact, most of them, if you look at, for instance, Pew Research findings, most of them say they actually prefer to socialize through screens, through media than in person. This is clearly not just an individual issue, but it’s a social issue, because in order to get together with friends in person, you have to- also have friends who want to get together in person. Is there anything that parents can do working together to create these situations where kids can go out and actually be together in person?

[Tracy Markle]: Yeah, great question. I absolutely- I think it takes a lot of effort on a parent’s end to create the structure and accountability for adolescents to get together with their friends. You know, screen time (excuse me), does create immediate rewards as far as connection with others, and there’s not a lot of effort that adolescents have to put in in order to connect. If left to their own devices, so to speak, they will just easily sit in their bedroom or in the living room and connect with their friends and not make that effort. It’s up to us as parents and adults to help support them with those anchors that I recommend need to occur throughout the week with extracurricular activities, whether it’s after school activities, sports teams, what have you. Where there is a structure that they go and participate in that time so they can have that face to face, really important connection, which we know promotes overall cognitive and mental health.

[Nicholas Carr]: Thank you. Now we have a Taína Coleman who is going to discuss the situation of children with learning differences. Taína’s an educational specialist in the Learning and Development Center at the Child Mind Institute and has over 15 years of experience in the special education and literacy education field in New York City. Her approach is rooted in research driven methodologies, and she is an expert in developing tailored, balanced and effective literacy curricula. Taína, it’s all yours. 

[Dr. Taína Coleman]: Thank you. Today, we’re going to talk about some- I’m going to talk about considerations for children with ADHD and other learning difficulties. We can show that this is presenting the moment, great. I wanted to start by just sharing what the Child Mind Institute does. We are a leading independent nonprofit focused on children’s mental health and learning disorders. Our clinicians are dedicated to giving children with learning difficulties tools to support what they need to succeed in school. We’re a team of neuropsychologist researchers, education specialists, therapists who work with schools and families to bridge the gap between evidence based methodologies, classroom practice, and what’s happening at home. Today, I’m going to focus on the impact of screens with a specific population of student or child. First, I wanted to talk about executive functioning and wanted to talk about it from an education space. Executive functioning, which we heard the last speakers discuss (very, very important) in my role as a remediator and someone who works with many children to support their academics. We understand that executive function can be or is a set of processes that’s involved. I think a bit like air traffic control, like an airport in which we’re trying to coordinate and organize thinking and emotional functions to complete a task and meet goals. Many different ways we could think of executive functioning, but some theories or some researchers in particular enjoy presenting to teens and tweens is this is like this model where under the umbrella of executive functioning Sharpe’s theory is that it’s we’re looking at working memory, prioritizing, organizing, sequencing, managing time and planning, attending, initiating and focus social emotional skills around inhibition, as well as communicating cognitive flexibility and shifting. These skill sets is what– are what we might need to balance to complete tasks, and lots of our teens and tweens are struggling to complete tasks, especially those with ADHD. About one in five children have a learning or attentional challenge just about. In current research, the numbers might actually be even higher. ADHD is a brain based condition and the ways in which I like to talk about it with that with teens as a coach, is that it could it could in fact disrupt some mental kind of ability, so inhibition, self-restraint, hindsight and foresight, the ability to be self-directed, perhaps engage in some introspection, emotional control, as well as problem solving. Oftentimes when working with young adults, they’ll talk about, you know, it’s just hard for me to focus, and when we dig in, we recognize that there are lots of effects on daily functioning. Poor self-control, poor delay to gratification, poor time management organization, difficulty with self-motivation, difficulty initiating and sustaining motivation. Kiddos tend to be disorganized, perhaps forgetful, struggle with self-regulation of emotions, etc. Understanding that this is a condition that benefits from support and coaching, we realize that when ADHD kiddos are overusing screens, we’re starting to see some general trends with this population and there’s lots of things we don’t know about screen usage with this population, and there are some things that we do. What do we do now? How much screen time children engage in matters. Kids who use the most digital media tend to be the most unhappy. That’s what research is showing. What they’re using it for matters. Kids who use social media passively, or only to get like some follows, tend to have the most negative outcomes. I wanted to also add, screen use in school is not always useful. It too must be relevant. Is it safeguarded? Are children being set up for success? We just heard some research around that, around the child, around reading as it relates to reading on paper versus on screen. That’s incredibly helpful for all of us to know. We want to ensure that we’re setting kids up for success in a school, in school settings. Other factors might matter more. For example, it’s not just screen usage, but there are other factors. The media balance, overall media balance, sleep, general health and other factors play a huge role in mental health. And we also heard some good research around sleep. Here are some considerations for the ADHD brain. Research suggests problematic overuse of screens might be linked in this bidirectionality where there’s an increased risk of mental health issues. Children or teens who overuse screens might be displacing other important developmental tasks and learning opportunities. While screens may not cause ADHD, they could play a role in amplifying ADHD symptoms depending on the limits set. I’ll just repeat that one more time: we tend to see the symptoms of ADHD are more exacerbated due to screen usage. ADHD symptoms could also be exacerbated through poor sleep hygiene. Screens have a significant impact on sleep patterns across all age groups. Adolescents often struggle with prioritizing tasks that have long term benefits over immediate gratification. Consequently, they could find it challenging to determine the appropriate time to disengage from screens or social interaction and just get to bed. Overuse of screens can impact executive functioning overall, which is highly correlated with kiddos with ADHD. There’s some theories to even understand ADHD as an impairment of executive functioning like Dr. Russell Barkley. We also know that there are other learning conditions or learning disabilities in which students tend to have weaker executive functioning. We find when kids with dyslexia tend to have weaker executive functioning skills and therefore could be more susceptible to screens impacting some of their symptoms. That research is slow, slow moving and we need more information there. Children with ADHD tend to struggle with tasks that lack novelty, demanding effort and repetition, so consequently choosing non-preferred tasks over engaging in novel screen time can pose a challenge. Even though there are many teens that I work with who know homework is important and they need to complete it, the fact that perhaps it’s repetitive or boring makes it incredibly hard to engage in, especially if there is a phone anywhere nearby, thus setting up the environment for success is very important. In addition, according to experts like William Dodson, Dr. William Dodson, children with ADHD typically receive about 20,000 more negative messages by the age of ten compared to their peers. This occurs because parents and educators and others we frequently give feedback on their impulsive actions, academic difficulties, perhaps social challenge, and we tend to urge them to try to control themselves, and this feedback really does add up, and as a result, many children tend to turn to screen related activities and communities for comfort, reinforcing their reliance on screens. There are some clear positives to some of the social communities that have developed online and some of it is community and understanding. Here at Child Mind, many of our clinicians, in particular David Anderson, who’s an expert in this area, talks about creating a family media plan that could be a step one for some families and checking in on some real data in observing your child. We’re looking to ensure that a child is engaging in basic wellness behaviors: diet, sleep, exercise. We’re trying to get a sense of their quality of their familial relationships, school attendance, performance, homework, study time, extracurricular activities, friendships, and social life all have to be in balance with media usage. Within a plan, and you can go on the Child Mind website to learn more about some of our recommendations, but for families who are interested in creating a media plan, outlining some non-negotiables, defining structured part of a family schedule, highlighting media free times such as dinner (say), not all screen time is created equal. Being very specific to what type of screen time a child is able to engage in, at what time, setting clear behavior expectation is an important part of the plan as well as early on modeling around screen behavior and scaffolding and shaping healthy behaviors around screens from a young age is also important and something that can be done with schools. Thank you. 

[Nicholas Carr]: Thank you very much Taína. A couple of quick questions for you. One, I wanted to follow up on something you touched on a couple of times in your presentation. You pointed out to how children- how use of screens can exacerbate symptoms of ADHD, and you also mentioned that there’s some evidence that the patterns of… the kind of symptoms that emerge from spending too much time online looking at screens seem to be similar in some ways to the symptoms of ADHD, particularly when it comes to executive control. What do we know? One question I get a lot from parents and one thing I know that concerns them is what do we know about the possibility that screen time may actually be a cause of ADHD? Where does the research stand today on that? 

[Dr. Taína Coleman]: No, great question. The research stance, I mean, we’ve heard there is some more recent research coming out around like an AD- a screen induced form of difficulty with attention or ADHD, and I’m not too sure if that research has been widely confirmed. There are some talks around that, but generally what research has shown us is that screen usage really exacerbates some of these symptoms. The kiddos tend to hit a space of, let’s say, overwhelm. They have a shorter bandwidth to engage in a lot of the more complicated tasks that come with, let’s say, studying and school work, etc., in which they really have to negotiate and balance their executive functioning skills. We just find that bandwidth is much smaller. We find that kiddos tend to be a bit more irritable when having- when there’s been over usage around screens and screens are now reduced or taken away, which many families could attest to. It does seem to exacerbate this dysregulation and require some close monitoring to ensure that there’s balance.

[Nicholas Carr]: Yeah, thanks. Then, by the way, if you could turn off your screen sharing, we could actually see you again. The second question I wanted to ask is- you talked about how families can think about this and maybe deal with this, but how about schools? How should- do you have any recommendations for teachers and educators about how to use screens productively and not allow them, but not allow the screens to have some of those negative impacts in the classroom?

[Dr. Taína Coleman]: Yes, that’s a great question. I do quite a bit of school consulting and in a lot of school communities, we’re talking about like a school media based plan. We’re reading this research, we’re understanding that schools have a responsibility too in talking about student health to children, right? We teach little kiddos, like part of our health curriculum, how to keep their body healthy. A large part of the work now is also media literacy and help around that. With schools, we’re starting conversations around ensuring that we’re supporting responsible usage even in the school building, right? So I’ve talked with many school folks who’s like there’s a substitute. We’re not just going to like give out devices and have the kids work independently on all sorts of things, but really teaching kiddos like how to use tools appropriately, understanding themselves and what it feels like to use a tool with balance, not using it as a activity in isolation, but tied to a larger learning point or a larger goal. I think the conversation around linking media usage to health and knowing that schools have a responsibility to talking to children about how to maintain aspects of their mental health. In this case, media literacy is paramount in that we have so many students who when they leave the school building, are engaging in some unhealthy kind of practices, and it comes back to schools, right? When a kiddo has been (let’s say) bullied or let’s say when a kiddo is feeling depressed and perhaps some of… and is dysregulated. We’re seeing that in the schools. Having these conversations openly, honestly, talking about even as an adult, the ways in which we understand technology and limit it in our own lives has been really important in modeling. We’re finding many parents are interested in partnering with schools, so it’s a common message, right? What’s happening at home or what’s helpful at home and what’s happening at school. Think it’s the beginning- a beginning of some good work. 

[Nicholas Carr]: Great. Thank you very much. One topic that’s entwined with everything we’ve been talking about here is the topic of multitasking. Our next and final speaker is going to share her research and her thoughts about that with us, and that’s Dr. Susanne Baumgartner. Dr. Baumgarten is an associate professor at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research at the University of Amsterdam. She’s a member of the Center for Research on Children, Adolescents in the Media and the Digital Communication Methods Lab. So, Susanne, it’s all yours. 

[Dr. Susanne Baumgartner]: Yeah. Thank you very much. Today I want to share some of the research we’ve been conducting in the past years on the distracting nature of digital media, but particularly on media multitasking and its long term effects. Well, as Nick said, I’m working for the Center for Research on Children, Adolescents and the Media. We are located at the University of Amsterdam. We have about 25 researchers really studying only the effects of digital media on younger people. If you’re interested in our research, you can check out our website and see the projects we are doing as well as our publications. I just wanted to show some recent data that we have gathered among our students. Late adolescents (around 20 year olds) and we tracked actually their smartphone use for a couple of weeks and then we saw that these late adolescents use of smartphones for 4-5.5 hours a day on average. They received one of their 15 notifications per day and they unlocked (so really started) the smartphones 85 times per day. I think these numbers in Europe are smaller than what we see in the US. Again with this kind of large numbers, 150 notifications and 5.5 hours of phone use per day, it is not surprising that smartphones are also used a lot while doing other things. For example, engaging in academic activities or engaging in other media activities. When we talk about the distracting effect of media, we are mainly interested in two things. The immediate effects of digital media doing other tasks. What happens with task performance if I use other media, but more specifically, my research has been focusing on the long term effects of digital distractions. If I’m engaging in media multitasking all the time, does this maybe change my cognitive processing and my abilities to focus attention? I will give you a quick overview also about the immediate effects. Here we see a very clear pattern in the studies that have been conducted. Using digital media by studying or doing academic tasks takes longer. It takes you longer to complete a task and it negatively affects learning outcomes and task performance. As Tzipi already mentioned, there are also some studies showing that the mere presence of a smartphone might affect task performance, but there are also some mixed results, and more recent studies did not find these effects on the task performance among adolescents or older adults. Nevertheless, when you engage in media while actually doing something else, it takes typically longer. However, this effect is also dependent on specific situational factors. For example, when adolescents perceive the digital media as very important, so for example, they really want to talk to someone else or their friends, they want to take a social media message, then this disrupts the task much more, and also if it’s forcefully interrupted. For example, there are studies showing that people can also strategically multitask. For example, when they are working on something and they are stuck, then they turn to digital media and for a digital media break, and this can actually then help to resume the task, but if it’s forcefully interrupted, so if you check one of 150 notifications, then this might be more problematic. Okay, but as I said in my research, I’m more interested into the long term effects. You can see that there are actually decades of research on the effect of digital media on attention problems and ADHD related behaviors. However, most of these reviews of the literature conclude that there might be relationships, so they are typically small negative relationships. The more screen time, the more digital media use, the more attention problems, or the more ADHD related behaviors of adolescents show. There are also some caveats, and these effects are typically very small. One of the caveats I think is or the biggest one is that what also one of previous speakers said, that we really like longitudinal studies, studies that really follow adolescents or children for a longer period of time. You hear one example from the media multitasking literature. These are a couple of studies relating media multitasking, the amount of someone multitasking with media, to self-reported attention problems, impulse controls, issues, hyperactivity, and so on. As you can see, across these studies, we find these relationships. Children or adolescents who media multitask more typically also show more ADHD related symptoms in their everyday lives. However, most of these studies are cross-sectional, which means it’s just a correlation. We still are not fully sure about the nature of this relationship, as we also discussed in previous talks. As a media effects researcher, we were thinking about – how does media multitasking actually affect attention problems, or is it maybe the other way around? Do adolescents with more attention problems media multitask more because they are more drawn to the distraction and the rewarding nature of media? Do we find kind of reciprocal relationships? For example, do adolescents who already have a few attention problems turn more to media, and therefore this might then accelerate their attention problems? To understand this a bit, we conducted a longitudinal study among almost 1500 Dutch adolescents. We followed them for one month- no, for one year, three times with three months in between. These adolescents were 11 to 15 years old. During this year we assessed several times media multitasking, but also self-reported attention problems, academic distractibility, so how well they themselves perceive to be distracted during academic activities and also the academic performance which were actually the school grades. What we found, if we looked at our lessons of the sample, we saw that those who media multitask more showed more attention problems. They were also reported that they are more distracted during academic activities and they had lower school grades. These are- between present correlations. This was a rather clear picture. Adolescents who media multitask more show more of these problems. However, when we then looked into the long term relationships to see whether they’re really the effects of media multitasking, we found the effects were attention problems only among the early adolescents, so only among the 11 and 12 year olds, we found the long term effects of media multitasking, increasing attention problems over time. We found for the whole sample that academic distractibility was increased. Those who were used to media multitasking also felt increasingly more distracted doing academic tasks, but we found no effect on school grades. Your previous media multitasking did not decrease your task performance or your academic performance. To conclude, I would say that it is evident- there’s a lot of evidence that digital media is distracting and negatively affects task performance. We see in our study that adolescents who multitask more frequently have higher levels of attention problems, are more easily distracted, and have lower grades compared to their peers. We find or we do not really know yet what the long term relationships are because we found only minimal effects for media multitasking on subsequent attention problems. We did not find any effects on academic performance, which we interpret may be that adolescents at least partly can compensate for their multitasking behavior. Okay, that’s it for me. 

[Nicholas Carr]: Great. Thanks very much, Susanne. I want to ask you, media multitasking encompasses a whole lot of different things that people can be doing online, and I wonder if in your research or other people’s research, whether some distinctions have been made about the types of distractions, the types of multitasking, For instance, does getting notifications affect people differently than, say, going and looking at TikTok or doing all the many different things we can do online?Is there- do we have any understanding of the different effects of different types of things you can be distracted by on a screen? 

[Dr. Susanne Baumgartner]: Yeah, that’s a very good question. I’m not aware of those because most of the studies of media multitasking, we associate with those media multitasking index, which is a very broad scale, which just assesses the frequency someone engages in various types of media multitasking. For example, smartphones and TV, TV and social media and so on, so it’s a very broad instrument and even here we find only small effects or maybe because it’s so broad, but it’s very little studies, a very few studies really looking at specific types of media, but I think it’s an important next step. 

[Nicholas Carr]: Yeah, and then one other question is, is that you said that there’s evidence that multitasking creates distractibility and stuff, but it doesn’t seem to influence grades at least in some part of the study group and you said that maybe it’s because kids are learning to compensate. When you say kids are learning to compensate, what does that mean? 

[Dr. Susanne Baumgartner]: Yeah, so what I think is that- even if they are distracted a lot during academic tasks, they know there’s an exam coming in two days or two weeks, and then at this moment they are still able to focus and to maybe compensate some of the things that they maybe missed before. So it seems-

[Nicholas Carr]: Okay.

[Dr. Susanne Baumgartner]: They still made up for maybe the time they lost before. But on the other hand, I also think that with social media being now so ingrained in our lives that we might maybe underestimate our ability to adapt to these digital media and so that we really also, really learn to, to compensate for some of these rewarding aspects. That’s also something in our studies we found that our students, most of them have a very fine tuned notification management system, so they put out all the notifications, so not to be distracted, so they learn to cope with it. 

[Nicholas Carr]: Okay. Yeah, that’s very interesting because I have seen some studies that show that there was a study in Great Britain, for instance, that showed that when school, when schools ban smartphones, grades actually- academic performance measured by grades actually tend to increase. I don’t know how broadly replicable that is or not, but maybe that’s a good note to open this up to a broader discussion, and Suzanne, maybe you can start and then the other panelists can chime in, but there’s been a lot of debate for quite a while now, but recently, there is a book by Jonathan Haidt published just the last couple of weeks called The Anxious Generation. He recommends banning smartphones from school for many reasons, but one of which is cognition. There’s also emotional reasons. From what you’ve seen in your own research and others, is that a good idea? 

[Dr. Susanne Baumgartner]: Yeah. Maybe you can start because now in the Netherlands it was just banned. Smartphones and so on are completely banned from schools since January 1st and there are now a lot of studies going on and we will see what happens now. But in general, I would say, I mean, it cannot hurt. Even if I would say based on the empirical evidence, there is not much evidence showing, okay, there are these really strong long term effects, but I think also some of the other speakers said it’s important to have social connections with friends. It’s important to be outside to do other stuff. Then I think it’s good that the school maybe is the environment where they can have those, and where also the parents are not involved. It’s not always the parents trying to regulate, but it’s just like the simple rule. No, no phones at school and you can use it at home. Then I think they can also learn that these are the smartphone free periods that might be nice.

[Nicholas Carr]: Yeah, how have children reacted to the ban? 

[Dr. Susanne Baumgartner]: Yeah, actually, so far, I think positively, because what we also see in the Pew studies now is that more and more adolescents and young adults say actually I also feel I’m using my smartphone too much. I think that it’s now more this idea that you kind of lost control or that we are really overusing it and also young people are actually aware of this.

[Nicholas Carr]: Yeah. Any other panelists want to chime in on this question? Should we ban smartphones from schools? 

[Tracy Markle]: Yeah, I actually would love to chime in. I think I agree with that approach that the Netherlands has taken. I think the struggle for a lot of adolescents is fitting in. If all of their peers, if it’s an equal playing field and everybody doesn’t have access to their phones, they’re going to adapt much quicker than if a handful of parents try to restrict their phone access, and then that leaves, they feel left out. That is a big struggle for teens and their developmental stage that they’re in. 

[Nicholas Carr]: Anyone else? 

[Dr. Tzipi Horowitz-Kraus]: I agree with both of you. I think I’m hesitant. I agree in principle. However, I’m thinking about what will happen and probably you’ll know in the future, what will happen right after they leave school? Do they need to compensate for that loss of time for not being with their phones and then for the entire afternoon they will not leave, they will not leave it for a second? I do think that the need to limit the time with the phone in school is crucial so children can put it aside. I know that this is the situation in most schools that I’m familiar with. They put it aside for most of the day. They’re allowed to take it out for certain periods of time, maybe even to see how you can use it in the class for a limited time and then put it back, and I think this is a healthy behavior to understand that you can use it, but you can also do without it, and what do you do when you don’t have it? Then you start socializing and actually interact with other people, so limiting the time for sure. Then I guess that this is an experimental period now, right? We don’t know how they will react when they don’t have it throughout the day. 

[Nicholas Carr]: Thank you. I think Taína has had to leave, so she is no longer part of the discussion. I just want to mention that. A related question to that, and again, this is a hard question, but it’s a question that parents really struggle with, is when should kids be allowed to use various screen devices? Whether it’s a toddler and a tablet or an iPad or an older child getting their first smartphone, because this is so wrapped up in kids social lives, it’s extremely difficult, as I’m sure you know, all of you know, for parents to make this decision, because parents know that there’s a downside to giving kids the technology. How can you give parents advice for how to particularly how to at what age or at what stage of an individual child’s development it might make sense to give them their own smartphone? Are there any clues, developmental clues, that you’d want to see in a child that knows they’re prepared to use this productively? Tracy, you want to start off.I think you are muted.

[Tracy Markle]: Sorry about that. I really love this question and I think it’s an extremely important one because one size does not fit all. For me, when I’m guiding parents, we go through a list of questions and it has a lot to do with your child’s ability to emotionally regulate. Do they have competence when it comes to interacting with peers and extracurricular activities that they find enjoyable and they like to do? Are they responsible and keep points in their life? Do they do chores? Are they able to get themselves out of bed and get ready in the morning to go to school? Academically, are they connected at school? Do they feel like they fit in there and that they have a sense of identity in their school environment? There’s a number of protective factors we look at just in general for all teens. However, on the other side of things, we look at our teens who have high risk diagnoses and factors, such as ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, social anxiety, which can put them at higher risk for overuse. Developmentally they’re a bit behind their neurotypical peers, so we recommend introducing devices and apps later and if not later, having good structure and accountability and rules in place like that family media plan, which I can’t agree more with, to have that in place first and then introduce the device and the apps to the children. Those are some of my recommendations. 

[Nicholas Carr]: Great. Anyone else want to? Any advice?

[Dr. Tzipi Horowitz-Kraus]: I would like to chime in and say, Tracy, I love the way you talked about school because I definitely think that before school age, I would not hand devices to children. Children can be exposed to devices with their parents, and this is a very important point. You don’t just hand it to children. This is not a babysitter. You can jointly watch a movie on a tablet with your child while interacting with your child. Definitely early ages and then you make a joint activity out of it. I do think that if parents do choose exposing their children earlier in life to electronics, they need to be with them while they’re doing it. They need to be interactive. They need to use it as a platform for a conversation and to continue and making sure that they still have this eye contact with the child, and if they are so into it and cannot take their eyes off the screen, they can touch the child and say “did you see it” and drag their eyes back to the adult. I think this is very, very important. As Tracy said, social interaction. The young ages are these crucial milestones where the child develops the ability to interact with others who enjoy and get the reward from a positive interaction from their friends and family and we’re taking it away from them at this important point in their development, there may be long term consequences, so this is my advice. 

[Nicholas Carr]: Great. Thank you. On a very kind of different topic. There’s a very interesting question that came in from the audience, and the person asks, you know, there’s, as all of you have made clear, there’s still a lot of things we don’t know about the effects of digital media and screens. You’ve talked about the lack of longitudinal studies. The question is longitudinal studies, obviously, by definition take a lot of time and yet the technology is changing all the time, so we go from having, you know, desktop to laptops to smartphones. We go from Facebook to Instagram to TikTok. How do you, as researchers, how can we think about effectively using longitudinal studies to study something that is changing so quickly? Susanne, you want to start that off? 

[Dr. Susanne Baumgartner]: Yeah. Thank you. Yeah, I think it’s something that we struggled with a lot. Also, if you now, for example, look at the first new multitasking instruments, they are now completely outdated. Yeah, there’s still text messaging in there and so on. That’s so- we need a way to, during the longitudinal studies, even still adapt the measurements or have broader tech unrelated categories. So it might be that we- actually what we would need probably also is to identify the problematic aspects. So it might not be that TikTok itself is problematic, but what it is is maybe the fast, very fast paced, very short videos. Maybe we need more to find these ways of assessing these characteristics instead of a specific social media. 

[Nicholas Carr]: Okay, either of the other of you have you thought about this? How the tension between long term research that focuses on how things change and the fact that the technology is changing all the time?

[Dr. Tzipi Horowitz-Kraus]: I think, Nicolas, this is, as a neuroscientist, the problem is that also the MRI fields changes and different things are changing, but when you’re doing the longitudinal study, you need to make sure that you are aware of all the predictable, you need to think about the future and what may change and design the best study that you can design in order to answer questions. I do think that per Susanne’s answer, I totally agree, and I think we need to tease out the principles in each of these as many as we can in each of these media platforms and the fast space that information flows both visually and auditorily, what we hear and what we see. We see that this principle is something that attracts children’s attention also us as adults, right, but it attracts children’s attention. This is something that repeats itself in many platforms. Same goes for social media. I’m part of the generation that is still using Facebook. My kids are calling me old, and they don’t know what it is, but in principle, what Facebook is giving us, we post, someone likes us or not. This is the same idea that we see in other social media platforms. So I think that as researchers, in order to design the best longitudinal study that will go with us for many years and we can conclude what may happen in the future, we need to think about the principles of the platforms and then to stick to that so we can have proper conclusions. 

[Nicholas Carr]: Okay, Tracy, any thoughts on that, the research angle? You’re on-

[Tracy Markle]: Sorry about that. Clearly, I’m not good at multitasking, which I’m the first to admit. Everybody who knows me. I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts on that, and I think about the ABCD study that’s going on in the United States that began in 2015, so pretty incredible longitudinal study. It started with a cohort of pre-teen adolescents and has been continuing since, and they’re putting out some amazing research, but as you read through the research, it’s like, okay, is that still relevant today because it takes time to be able to publish that research and get the information out to the public. Now for us, we- I’m a practitioner by training, so I always take a step back behind the researchers and say, you know, more than I. But I know for us we’ve created an assessment tool that we set up in a way for it to adapt to the ever changing landscape of technology.  We need better and improved assessment tools to be able to do that and not have to continue to keep creating new assessment tools that can be a common ground amongst all applications of technology. I couldn’t agree more that we have to focus less on what is TikTok, but more what is within TikTok, like the fast paced multitasking that’s required, and how does that impact development and mental health? 

[Nicholas Carr]: Great. Thank you. We’re starting to run a little low on time, but there’s a question that’s come in a lot from the people attending the webinar and that is we talk a lot about the excessive screen time or overuse of gadgets or whatever, but the question is what does- how do you define excessive in this case? How do you define overuse? Can you give any either research based or experiential based thoughts on how a parent or a teacher will know when too much is too much? Tzipi, you want to start off? 

[Dr. Tzipi Horowitz-Kraus]: Well, if you look at the American Pediatric Association website, they will tell you that until first years of life nothing afterwards, maybe 30 minutes a day with an adult and then during school years, a really minimal level of time monitored by an adult. What is too much? I think that as a parent, as a teacher, if you feel that the usage interrupts the children’s life and every day’s activities, that is too much. We know it when we see it. There are the recommendations. Again, the recommendations are as less as possible, and that excludes some specific interventions. I saw that in the chat, some people were asking “are computerized interventions and tailor made computerized training programs for reading, for math or cognitive control.” This is a use that is specific for a given topic that is monitored in time, and this is something else. If you as a parent or a teacher notice that you call a child in his/her name, they’re looking at their phone, they’re searching for their phone, they’re left restless, they cannot take it off their hands. Then you understand that this is too much. This is something that as an adult, we have to monitor and it’s almost tempting to say “tell us what the magical number is.” I think the magical number is also different for different children and as an adult, this is our responsibility to look at the children and to be the responsible adult, to say this is too much for this specific child,  we need to monitor the use.

[Dr. Susanne Baumgartner]: Yes, I fully agree with that. It depends on the children and on the context also. It’s always about this time displacement, so if a child is not doing anything else anymore, it’s not outside. It’s not meeting other friends, but  if they have already played outside, have been to school, they have met their friends, then I think it’s okay. So there’s not one clear number, unfortunately, and I think it’s very interesting because I think for older adolescents, it’s also very subjective. When we ask our students, many of them say using their smartphone and using social media, and particularly TikTok too much, and then I don’t care if it’s- if they use this one hour or 10 hours, if they perceive it too much themselves.

[Nicholas Carr]: Right. Tracey, any thoughts? 

[Tracy Markle]: Yeah, I agree. I absolutely agree. I think it’s important to consider your child’s developmental stage. And also, like I mentioned earlier, any high risk factors or diagnoses that they’re dealing with which will make them more susceptible to overuse issues. We have to look at a number of factors. Are they not wanting to engage in real life activities as much? Do they- are they starting to refuse to go to soccer practice or is it more and more hard for them to get out of bed in the morning because they stayed up too late on their devices? Also, what I tend to see in the pre-teen adolescent age group is increased irritability and anger and outbursts, especially playing fast paced video games, and that’s a really big warning sign to parents that the child’s emotional center is just not ready for that fast paced, more intense type of video game that we need to step back from that. That to me is an immediate game changer for a lot of parents, that we have to change that behavior and remove that type of video game or application, so to speak. That’s what I have to add there. 

[Nicholas Carr]: Well, thank you and excuse me, we could certainly go on a lot discussing all the aspects of this, but unfortunately, we’ve come to the end of our time. I’m going to thank all four of our panelists and turn things back over to Kris.

[Kris Perry]: Thank you to our panel for your informative presentations and discussion and thank you to our audience for joining. If you found this webinar helpful or valuable to you, please consider making a donation to support. Ask the Experts webinars and other free educational resources. To donate, you can scan the QR code on the screen, click the link in the chat, or visit our website at You can also find additional resources in the Learn and Explore section of our website or follow us on these platforms and subscribe to our email list to stay informed. Please join us for our next webinar: Early Childhood Mental Health and Digital Media at noon Eastern on Wednesday, May 1st. Thank you and be well.