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Why There Should Be No More Discussion about “Appropriate” Screen Time for Infants, Toddlers, and Children

By Patricia Burke of Safe Tech International Image courtesy Floris Freshman 

As a consumer culture, we do not debate the “appropriate level of exposure” for smoking, alcohol, gambling, pornography, guns, driving, or drug paraphernalia for infants, toddlers, and young children. A product or practice is either safe, or not safe, in childhood.

Previously, although often belatedly, society has met the responsibility to protect children from risks of harm, especially from addictive substances.

For example, the 2020 story of the five-year old from Utah who drove his family’s car onto the interstate was reported with a reminder to keep car keys away from children.

Now, perhaps nowhere in modern society is lack of discernment more damaging than in the blind acceptance of cell phones, tablets, screens, and wireless device use by children. We need to fix this, not only for children, but to reclaim reason in ourselves.

Cognitive Dissonance

According to VeryWellMind, “Cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs, values, or attitudes. People tend to seek consistency in their attitudes and perceptions, so this conflict causes unpleasant feelings of unease or discomfort.

The inconsistency between what people believe and how they behave motivates them to engage in actions that will help minimize feelings of discomfort. People attempt to relieve this tension in different ways, such as by rejecting, explaining away, or avoiding new information.”

In the case of wireless devices, cell phones and screens, we like them, so we keep telling ourselves that they are safe.  Even for children.

The longer that society remains in a state of denial about the addictive nature and the adverse health, environmental, and social effects of wireless devices, the more children will spend their younger years at unnecessary risk, with substantial harm to some.

This does not have to continue.

Tobacco and the Story of Ardi Rizal

On Nov 6, 2023, New Dehli’s Buzzstaff provided an update from a 2010 story about an Indonesian toddler who smoked.


“At just 18 months old, the child fell victim to a shocking cigarette addiction, leaving many to wonder how such a young individual could become ensnared by this habit. The tragic story unfolds as a result of his parents’ actions, particularly his father, who, in jest, offered the child a cigarette on several occasions. Over time, this repeated exposure led to the child’s addiction, and he began smoking. Eventually, the Indonesian government stepped in to address and rectify this distressing situation.”

“Cigarette smoking during childhood and adolescence poses substantial health risks for young individuals, leading to a higher incidence and severity of respiratory illnesses, diminished physical fitness, and the potential for adverse impacts on lung growth and function.

Most critically, this is the age when smoking addictions often develop, persisting into, and sometimes throughout adulthood. Among adults who have become daily smokers, statistics reveal that 87% had experimented with their first cigarette before turning 18, and an even higher 95% had done so by the age of 21. These figures underscore the urgency of addressing youth smoking prevention.”

In 2017, the Syndey Morning Herald reported, “On the main road of Aldi’s village of Teluk Kemang, an enormous billboard blocks the sky advertising Sampoerna – the leading tobacco company in Indonesia and part of Philip Morris International. “Size is important,” the slogan says. Increasing restrictions in countries such as Australia means Indonesia – where public smoking and cigarette advertising are largely unregulated – is one of the final frontiers for Big Tobacco.”

This ‘final frontier” for Philip Morris includes children.  We were, and should, be horrified. Fortunately, the Indonesian government stepped in. However, as noted by Cece Doucette of MA4SafeTechnology, the cavalry is not coming, regarding wireless. Yet.

”Hysterical” Reaction to Children Up All Night

In 2017, a video of two-year old twin boys who were up all-night made the rounds. Channel 4 New York carried the footage. Toddler Twins Party All Night Long in Hilarious Video, This is what nighttime with two toddler twins looks like. “The boys’ parents condensed their seven-hour overnight adventure into [] two minutes. The video has been watched more than 11 million times since it was posted to Facebook on March 13.”

We don’t know if the boys were jacked up on sugar, or having an adverse reaction to a food, medication, or other allergen, or were in the throes of jet lag, but we do know that under normal circumstances, healthy children with healthy biorhythms in a healthy environment sleep soundly at night.

It’s hard not to laugh at the antics of the twins, “The boys are seen hopping out of their cribs, climbing onto a couch, moving pillows, cushions and toys into a pile on the floor, even upturning their mattresses. It’s enough to induce some head-shaking among parents — if you can stop laughing. – Source

We do not know how many children are suffering, needlessly, from reactions to wireless exposures.

Recognizing an Adverse Reaction

When my sister was sick at the age of 5, medication was prescribed and given as directed. Instead of helping her, it was the equivalent of speed.  She was up all night in her playpen singing at the top of her lungs. Although my parents eventually found the humor in the story, at the time they were exhausted, with an entire household that got no sleep.

A child out of synch with their essential physiology is concerning.

The viral video of twins up at night was hopefully an exception, but a repeated pattern of disturbed sleep being caused by invasive microwave radio frequencies and microwave hearing hijacking physiology is being reported by many individuals.  

That it is not being investigated is not a comedy, it is a nightmare.

We could be asking questions, with concern for the reported suffering, if not for cognitive dissonance. Instead, tin-foil hat ridicule has predominated.

 Image courtesy Floris Freshman 

Resilient, responsible, ethical societies utilize a system of checks and balances to ensure that industries do not run amok, but unfortunately, there is often a significant delay between evidence of harm and a necessary course correction.

At this epoch in history, the systems are broken. The regulators are the industry. The prevailing overlay of checks and balances in the United States is that lobbyists visit decision makers with their checkbooks, while those who make ethical decisions often find themselves voted or leveraged out of their positions.

We need to come to our senses and resolve the growing divide between what we wish to be true vs. the reality of the wireless industry.

We remain compromised as a society about the economic benefits of industries including tobacco and alcohol, but at least we have had the wherewithal to protect children.

It’s time to do the same thing with wireless devices. Now.

Some Factors to Consider

1. Pixels – We do not know the long-term effect of subjecting children’s developing brains to pixels of color rather than nature, but all indications are that screens can produce a trance-like entrainment that can be addictive.

As Exploratorium.Edu explains in Pixels, Pictures, and Phones,

“Take a (super) close look at your smartphone and you may be surprised by what you see. Learn about screen technology and human visual perception by investigating color images up close. Even the fanciest smartphone screen has only three colors. Mobile device manufacturers take advantage of several visual processing tricks or optical illusions to display screen images:

Humans only have three types of color receptors on our retinas. Each responds to wavelengths in a certain part of the spectrum, roughly corresponding to red, green, and blue light. Computer and smartphone screens use red, green and blue subpixels (lights) set to varying intensities to create all the color combinations that we see. Our eyes have limited visual resolution, so we can only make out details to a certain degree. Pixels are the smallest visible color unit on a display screen. These colored pixels are comprised of associated red, green, and blue subpixels. On modern mobile device display screens, pixels and subpixels are small and packed tightly together. Because of your eye’s inability to differentiate individual pixels and subpixels, the screen’s light that shines onto your retina gets blended into an illusion of a single, clear picture.

Moving images take advantage of another limitation of your visual perception. The human eye can’t distinguish individual images displayed in rapid succession, so screen manufacturers and old movie projectors take advantage of this in different ways to produce the illusion of continuous motion.

By looking through the microscope, you can see all three illusions in action. Three colored subpixels make all the colors, images and moving pictures you see on your display screen.

Images of the unnatural pixels and subpixels are available here.

For example, Howtogeek provided this pixel picture of Super Mario:

What Is a Pixel? (howtogeek.com)

The image can translate to a lovely needlepoint pattern. But we need to ask how the artificiality is impacting our brain function and consciousness. For those paying attention, it’s not looking good.

2. LightWe do not know the long-term effects of subjecting the developing brain to pixels of light.

The combination of screens and light has resulted in concerns about seizures and epilepsy.

Brainfacts.org explains, When light hits the eye, signals are sent through the thalamus, a central brain structure that relays brain signals, to the cortical brain areas tasked with processing visual stimuli.

Brightness is provocative, particularly the contrast between the flash and the no-flash period. Brightness is important because, for example, modern TV screens or computer screens can get that bright. The image also must occupy enough of the retina. Then there’s the length of the stimuli. For the most part it requires at least a few seconds of flashing to cause a seizure. For most people, the most troublesome frequency range is 10 to 20 flashes per second.

DH: In addition to flashing lights, certain regular patterns can trigger seizures — like high-contrast black and white striped patterns. The first cortical brain area to process visual input is structured in columns that respond to edges or stripes of different orientation. We call these columns orientation columns. Orientation columns responding to the same orientation may inhibit each other. Typically, there’s a lot of inhibition from orientation columns when you see a striped pattern. One hypothesis about pattern-sensitive epilepsy suggests this inhibition is less effective. Without this inhibition, a strong stimulus driving one set of orientation columns may provoke strong, uncontrolled, neuronal activity, e.g. runaway excitation.” Source

Video Game Epilepsy

In 2007, the Journal of Emergency Medical Services reported, “Stimulus Overload: ‘Video game epilepsy’ causes seizures in young and old”

The condition described here is known as “photosensitive epilepsy” (PSE). Other common terms noted in the literature include visual reflex seizures, photoparoxysmal responses, intermittent photic stimulation seizures, video game seizures, television seizures and idiopathic photosensitive occipital lobe epilepsy, just to name a few. This type of seizure activity is triggered by such visual stimuli as flickering or flashing lights from fireworks, video games or TV broadcasts.

TV has been the most common trigger of photosensitive epileptic seizure. In 1997, an episode of the Japanese animated series”žPokà´mon featuring a rocket launch sequence caused some 700 children and adults aged five to 58 to have epileptic seizures and other related symptoms that sent them to EDs.

Studies have shown that video games, computer games and TV shows produce what is referred to as “flicker stimulus.” In many cases, the flicker is a range of 10à30 flashes per second, a rate which causes epileptic seizures; seizures are not induced at higher or lower ranges.

The distance between the subject and the screen can also play a factor. Typically, a distance of 1.5à2 meters produces flicker stimulus that can induce the seizure activity. In our case study, the patient was sitting about 1 meter from the screen based on the location of the furniture.

Studies with EEGs have shown that these visual stimuli and specific flashing frequency cause epileptiform discharge and present with the clinical features characteristic of epileptic seizures. Recent attempts to minimize the dangers of certain TV and video game photic stimulation images have had varied success.

Discussion It’s known that PSE is more prevalent in people aged seven to 19, with more males affected because they tend to play video games more than females. Those affected report seeing an “aura” or feeling particularly odd sensations prior to the seizure. The seizures may be generalized or focal, unilateral or bilateral, tonic-clonic or absent (e.g., staring spells). – Source

Many parents note that when they attempt to speak with a child on a screen, the child is so absorbed in the device that they seemingly tune out the parent. This indicates an alteration in focus and in the developing sensory system. Unfortunately, the dynamic goes both ways, with children experiencing distracted parenting.

Should the regulatory threshold limit be to avoid seizures but to ignore other alterations of brain function and physiology, for example, respiratory rate?

How does the brain process pixels of light vs. colors found in nature?

Excessive exposure to blue and green light is also an emerging issue, associated with disrupting the circadian rhythm, including the production of melatonin.

3. Is Industry Testing on Adult-sized Inanimate Dummies as “Proof of Safety” Negligent Endangerment?

Decades ago, during wartime, engineers began creating crash test dummies to determine how to protect adult male pilots ejected from airplanes. This may be a reasonable way to test parachutes and broken limbs.

The auto industry also makes use of crash test dummies to evaluate the safety of vehicles, (with somewhat controversial results because the dummies did not adequately represent women’s physiology and injury patterns.)

Is it a crime against humanity for the safety of wireless devices to be tested only for temperature on inanimate engineering models that are based on the measurements of a male military recruit, and to apply the results to the entire population, including children?

Does the dummy spike a fever when holding a cellphone? Image courtesy Floris Freshman 

It did not work well to test drugs on men and then prescribe them to women and children – another case of late lessons from early warnings. Is taking the internal temperature (one variable) an adequate safety test, when so many other health issues have emerged?

2008 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Report, Identification of Research Needs Relating to Adverse Health Effects of Wireless Communication

In 2008, the Academy of Sciences identified twenty inadequacies in the research record regarding RF safety.

“The task of the 2008 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Report, Identification of Research Needs Relating to Adverse Health Effects of Wireless Communication, was to identify any inadequacies in the research upon which the current US Radiofrequency radiation (RF) safety guidelines are based. The NAS Report did indeed find numerous inadequacies in that research record. An inadequate research record results in safety regulations that fail to address all exposures encountered by the public. Based on the 2008 NAS findings it cannot be asserted that US RF safety policy protects all members of the public from all mechanisms of harm in all exposure scenarios.” – Janet Newton, EMR Policy Institute

The list of research short comings includes:

a) Exposure of juveniles, children, pregnant women, and fetuses both for personal wireless devices (e.g., cell phones, wireless personal computers [PCs] and for RF fields from base station antennas.)

 b) Variability of exposures to the actual use of the device, the environment in which it is used, and exposures from other sources.

c) Multilateral exposures.

d) Multiple frequency exposures.

e) Exposure to pulsed radiofrequency radiation.

f) Location of use (both geographic location and whether a device is primarily used indoors or outdoors)

g) Models for men and women of various heights and for children of various ages.

h) Exposure to others sources of RF radiation such as cordless phones, wireless computer communications, and other communications systems.

i) Exposure to the eyes, hand or the human lap or parts of the body close to the device.

j) RF exposure in close proximity to metallic adornments and implanted medical devices (IMDs) including metal rim glasses, earrings, and various prostheses (e.g., hearing aids, cochlear implants, cardiac pacemakers, insulin pumps, Deep Brain Stimulators).

k) Sufficiently long exposure and follow‐up to allow for detection of effects that occur with a latency of several years.

l) Lack of information concerning the health effects associated with living in close proximity to base stations.

m) Research that includes children, the elderly, and people with underlying diseases.

n) Research on possible adverse RF effects identified by changes in EEG (electroencephalogram) activity.

Fifteen years have passed, and none of the deficiencies in the research have been addressed. In fact, agencies including the FDA and the FCC beholden to industry growth have gone in the opposite direction in terms of ignoring reported harm, (including ignoring a court ruling against the FCC for its reliance on 1998 exposure guidelines.)

We made the same cognitive error with drugs and chemicals, in not considering chronic cumulative, juxtaposed exposures.

The Historical Boycott of Nestles

In the mid-1970’s, faith organizations including the Catholic Church banded together to oppose the irresponsible marketing of infant formula by Nestles in impoverished nations. “That boycott, instituted in 1977, was dubbed the Infant Formula Action Coalition – INFACT. American Christian church groups who signed on to that boycott included American Friends Service Committee (Quakers), Lutherans, Roman Catholic archdioceses, Roman Catholic orders (like the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers), Presbyterians, United Church of Christ, United Methodists, Disciples of Christ and ecumenical groups, including the National Council of Churches, Church Women United, and chapters of the anti-hunger non-profit Bread for the World.”- Source

Society was horrified by the exploitation, as were secular leaders.

Pre-Frontal Cortex in Children Is Not Developed

We have not adequately studied, monitored, and responded to the impact of tech, screens, and cellphones on the developing brain in children.

For example, the study “Interactions of impulsivity, general executive functions, and specific inhibitory control explain symptoms of social-networks-use disorder: An experimental study” was conducted on adults, not children. “From a neuropsychological perspective, addictive behaviors (out of control behaviors that produce typical addiction symptoms) are assumed to result from an imbalance between two interacting neural systems. More specifically, it is assumed that a hyperactivity of an impulsive system, which enables quick and emotional responses towards immediately gratifying options, undermines cognitive control processes of a reflective system resulting in addictive behaviors; e.g., [ ]. The reflective system is associated with prefrontal cortex operations, such as executive functions and inhibitory control, which enable the control of impulsive responses.”

Society protects children, in part, specifically due to developing pre-frontal cortex.

Should we be alarmed by the lack of a diagnostic code for digital addiction, affecting so many children, which is the result of society’s cognitive dissonance regarding tech, screens, cellphones, and wireless?

Yes. We need to turn the tide.

The International Declaration on the Human Rights of Children in the Digital Age

As reported by Americans for Responsible Technology, an international group of leading lawyers, physicians, physicists, epidemiologists and other children’s health experts have today announced their support for a new International Declaration intended to raise public awareness of three fundamental rights of children which are not adequately being protected: the right to be free from addictive platforms and apps; the right to be free from hazardous radiation from wireless devices; and the right to be free from commercial exploitation of private information.

Sign “The International Declaration on the Human Rights of Children in the Digital Age”

Read Social Media Negligence and Fraudulent Concealment Court Case Alert: Children Are Not Adults

Read If We Ditched Our Cell Phones Would We Find Ourselves Again?

It’s up to everyone to do the right thing.

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