who is defending children or the digital industry?

A group of professionals in child health is worried about the explosion of intellectual and cognitive disorders and considers it urgent to fight against early overexposure to screens.

Posted today at 06:00, updated at 06:00

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At the end of 2012, more than 10% of French families were equipped with a tablet. (photo illustration)
At the end of 2012, more than 10% of French families were equipped with a tablet. (photo illustration) ANT MCNEILL / FLICKR

As every year, the national education publishes the number of school children with disabilities (benchmarks and statistical references 2018 of the Direction of the evaluation, the prospective and the performance). The numbers have progressed extremely importantly. The results are striking: the number of our children aged between 2 and 11 years old suffering from intellectual and cognitive disorders, psy- chological disorders or speech disorders is increasing sharply while the figures for visual, auditory, visceral and motor disorders have not moved.

Evolution of the number of children aged 3 to 11 attending school with a disability.
Evolution of the number of children aged 3 to 11 attending school with a disability. DIRECTORATE GENERAL FOR SCHOOL EDUCATION

The comparison with the figures published by the same authorities in previous years reveals the importance of this epidemic. Since 2010, disorders have increased by 24% for intellectual and cognitive disorders, 54% for mental disorders and 94% for speech and language disorders respectively.

To say that these figures are the only fact of improved screening or inclusion of children with disabilities (law dating from 2005) is no longer tenable.

Could an environmental factor not explain such progressions of serious disorders in our children? Among others, what could be the responsibility of overexposure to screens?

DIRECTORATE GENERAL FOR SCHOOL EDUCATION

Deleterious effect

On May 31, 2017, the professionals of the Collective Overexposure Screens (CoSE), who work with children, launched a public health alert in a forum published in The world. Eighteen months later, the group identifies the studies and renews its message.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also "The overexposure of young children to screens is a major public health issue"

Many studies confirm for twenty years the deleterious effect on the language, the sleep and the behavior, of a television exhibition of the children of less than 2 years in live or in permanent background. No studies to date show a beneficial effect of exposure to screens. There are similar concerns for other digital screens on sleep, language, control of emotions.

For older children, studies confirm the link between exposure to screens and sleep disorders, attention disorders, hyperactivity and declining educational outcomes. There is also an impact on physical activity, weight, vision, mood (anxiety, isolation, depression) and hypersexualized or violent attitudes due to exposure to pornography and violence.

In France, the ELFE study (French longitudinal study since childhood) analyzes multiple aspects of the life of children born in 2011. In December 2018, the results on the screen exposure of 13,276 children are published: two thirds 2 year olds watch TV every day. These results are those of the year 2013. What about in 2019 children of 2 years still exposed on television but also nomad screens?

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