Research and Resources - this book contains lots of information on screentime and greentime
Benefits of outdoor greentime
From Your Brain on Nature by Eva Selhub, MD, and Alan Logan:
Higher connectivity with nature provides greater wellbeing and vitality (Selhub p.227)
Foster positive thoughts; lower anger and aggression (Ulrich p.16)
Decrease physiological markers of stress (Ulrich p.15/16)
-A nature view from classroom is linked with higher scores in reading, language proficiency & math (Selhub p.71)
-Nature releases aromatic compounds that reduce stress hormones, anxiety, increases pain threshold & improves immune defense (Selhub p.83)
Walking outdoors for 20 minutes helps with stress and cognitive functioning for kids and teens (Selhub p.110)
Good to play in the dirt! Bacteria Lactobacillus has a positive influence on mood and cognition and is found in dirt. (Selhub p.161)
Gardening provides a sense of purpose and meaning (Selhub p. 155)
School gardening programs have shown positive impacts on life skills, working in groups, self understanding and academic scores (Selhub p165).
Also offers a positive influence on eating more vegetables (p.166)
Adults who gardened as kids valued trees and plants more (Selhub p.165)
Gardening improves motivation, communication, grief processing, depressive thoughts, anxiety, sleep, psychosocial skills, selfesteem, reduced stress and improved overall wellbeing (Selhub p.154)
Are you ready now to head over to the garden centre and pick out some plants and potting soil and have some hands-in-the-dirt fun?
How much screentime is too much? Depends who you ask
Let’s take a look at the spectrum of views of digital media concerns, and then you’ll meet our experts who delve more deeply into this issue. The data on screen time hours for children, youth and adults is increasing too fast for a book – need a blog for that. One study reported that the number of hours kids spend glued to screens tripled in the last four years!
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that children ages 2 to 5 be limited to one hour of screen time a day. However, child psychiatrist Victoria Dunckley, MD, cautions that is too much for some children who exhibit adverse effects after that small degree of exposure. Other experts agree.
In 2018 The American Heart Association said: “We suggest that screen-based devices be removed from bedrooms and absent during meal times. Daily device-free social interactions and outdoor play should be encouraged.”
In April 2019 the World Health Organization issued its first sedentary screen time guidelines: “Infants: zero screen time; 1-year-olds: sedentary screen time is not recommended; 2 to 4 year-olds: no more than 1 hour a day; less is better.”
This directive was welcomed as progress by many. However, a key health risk factor is missing: the harm to children’s vulnerable brains from wireless radiation. With that evidence, views of infants and young children in close proximity to any wireless device may change.
I invite you to hear from our physicians, neuroscientists and technical experts who are up to date on the research. With this information and their evidence based recommendations, you can make safer tech decisions.
Screen Addiction Expert, Mari Swingle, PhD Clinical Psychology
Dr. Mari Swingle is a Psychoneurophysiologist, Clinician, Researcher and Author. Dr. Swingle’s work focuses on the effects of screen based technologies on the brain and behaviour, and a wide range of ailments: Anxiety, Depression, Trauma, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder(s) Addiction, Learning Disabilities and Behavioural/Conduct Disorders and Co-morbid /Co-occurring Screen Addiction.
“I am concerned about screen and digital media addiction and what I see as a direct increase, or emergent epidemic, of hyperarousal (stress and anxiety). I see this both in society and now also in the brain. I am further concerned about our cultural apathy towards the issue. If we don’t reorient ourselves soon, it’s threatening to become the primary addiction of the 21st century. The primary danger to our brain and overall health is that we are always ‘on’, always searching, seeking more, never resting, never satiated.
“Our neurophysiological reaction to the age of digital media is a higher state of arousal with decreased abilities to self-quiet or self-entertain. Also of concern, are reduced abilities to
observe, integrate information,
and to be creative. Excessive usage of digital media also has a concrete relationship to attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorders, and almost all forms of mood deregulation including anxiety, depression and other forms of addiction and personality disorders, insomnia and even ED. We see children and adults with greater troubles quieting, less ability to focus including achieving states of observation and contemplation from which ideas spark. We need quiet contemplative time without screens to move from arousal to awareness and to stay there a bit.”
Dr. Swingle’s latest book is iMinds: How and Why Constant Connectivity is Rewiring Our Brains and What to Do About It
Addiction Expert, psychiatrist Judson Brewer
Dr. Brewer is Director of Research and Innovation at Brown University Mindfulness Center, associate professor in psychiatry, and founder of Mind Sciences. His research includes the neural mechanisms of mindfulness.
“These days we can’t deprive ourselves of technology, but we can pay attention to all of the aspects, including how it can affect our brain and behavior. The more rapidly dopamine is released into the brain, triggered by nicotine, drugs, or in this case smartphones, the more one gets hooked. Texting while driving has become as dangerous as being drunk behind the wheel. To overcome an obsession, it is critical to understand the three ingredients to developing a learned behaviour: trigger, behavior, reward. Each time a smartphone user has the urge to post another photo on Facebook or Instagram (trigger), posts the photo (behavior) and receives a bunch of likes (reward), they are reinforcing this dependency. Besides posting to feel good, the user may come to rely on this as a way to make unpleasant feelings like sadness, or boredom, go away. With constant repetition this behavior can become addictive. There’s something biologically rewarding about self-focused social media — YouTube is named YouTube after all.
How to work with this craving mind? When we bring mindfulness in, there is more awareness. We see that what we are doing is not all that rewarding. By simply paying attention to how we cause our own stress, we can begin to train ourselves to walk the other way. With this practice you can tame the craving mind. The first step is awareness.” Dr. Brewer’s book is The Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Smartphones to Love - Why We Get Hooked and How We Can Break Bad Habits
Cris Rowan, BScOT, BScBi
is a pediatric occupational therapist and biologist. She specializes in the impact of technology on children's physical, social, mental and cognitive domains. Cris Rowan teaches Balanced Technology Management – where parents, health professionals and educators manage balance between technology and healthy activity.
Critical factors for healthy child development by Cris Rowan: Can you make these part of your children’s day?
“Movement which stimulates the vestibular, proprioceptive, and cardiovascular systems, resulting in stable core, motor coordination, energy release/ balance, cardiovascular health and physical well being.
Touch and human connection activate the parasympathetic system to reduce adrenalin and cortisol, resulting in a calm, secure and relaxed child; Nature play activates all sensory systems, resulting in a child who is optimally developed, and in a school setting, they can pay attention and learn.
These developmental foundations create a ‘sustainable’ child who can achieve optimal growth and academic success.”
The following is a timely article by the book's publicist:
Netflix’s The Social Dilemma is a wakeup call: we can’t let our screens rule us
Netflix’s smash hit The Social Dilemma, released in September 2020, underscores the addictive power of social media and excessive screen time with testimony from former employees of the world’s biggest tech companies, including Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram.
“Nobody, I deeply believe, ever intended any of these consequences,” says one of the ex-employees of Big Tech at the beginning of the documentary. Today’s technology was developed with, no doubt, many positive objectives in mind. But it’s chilling to hear from people who worked for these companies that there have also long been intentions to monetize our attention, our dopamine levels and our relationships with loved ones.
Prominently featured is Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google who is the current president of the Center for Humane Technology, a nonprofit that “envisions a world where technology is realigned with humanity’s best interest.” Harris describes how disenchanted he became with Silicon Valley when he realized that most social media apps were designed to have their users hooked from first use.
Full disclosure - I checked my phone several times while writing this piece, at times getting sucked into Twitter or Instagram scrolls for upwards of ten minutes. Yes, I realize the irony of getting sidetracked by social media while writing about a documentary that warns against this very addiction. However, it made me feel better to find out that the people who designed these very apps and websites experience the same distractions too.
Fake news, online radicalism, decreasing quality of mental health, body dysmorphia, and data breaches are just a few of the issues posed by being constantly connected, the documentary argues.
The former employees featured, along with experts on tech and media ethics, give us their insider knowledge and perspective on how and why Big Tech plays puppet master with smartphone users, sucking as much of our attention towards their apps as possible to secure money from top advertisers.
The documentary ends with the idea of humanity collectively taking a step back from social media, disengaging with it until the end goals of tech companies are based around humans and our well being instead of advertisement and profit.
Here is where the documentary’s interests intersect with Canadian wellness education and consulting business Wellbeing International Ltd. We believe in tech being designed to serve and complement the rest of our lives, not the other way around. We appreciate all that technology allows us to do, from connecting with family and friends far away to accessing all types of information within seconds. But technology only benefits us when it’s properly balanced with time spent in the natural world.
These days, living in the midst of the pandemic has made it harder to tear ourselves away from our laptops and phones as they feel like our lifeline to the rest of the world. However, taking meaningful moments to close the computer, put the phone on silent and sit with a relaxed gaze in the backyard or in front of an open window can make us feel just as connected.
Another idea is to leave the phones at home/powered off in your pocket while going for a relaxing walk in nature, or for a picnic with the family. It’s not practical to suggest completely removing tech from our lives, nor is a measure so drastic required. It’s more about finding a healthy balance. Our Mindful Tech Plans can help you get started with blocking out designated nature time for your days.
While The Social Dilemma presents many of the problems of an overwhelming amount of tech, not many tangible solutions are offered. That’s exactly what Less Screen More Green tackles in its pages - how anyone can use their own mindfulness and surroundings to unplug and truly reconnect with the natural world. – by Kiki Cekota
Kiki Cekota is Wellbeing International's Communications Director and publicist for this book.
She is a graduate of the Ryerson School of Journalism in Toronto.
Please reach out to her with any media inquiries, including interest in booking Kerry on a show or podcast at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Public Health Concerns
Devra Davis, PhD, MPH
is a Nobel co-laureate
scientist and founder of
Environmental Health Trust
What’s an epidemiologist? These independent scientists are trained to
investigate studies to determine the accuracy and to analyze determinants
of health and disease conditions in defined populations – this is the
cornerstone of pubic health.
“Initially I figured this was just one of those issues that attracts people who aren’t very credible. I frankly assumed if there was
anything important to know about cell phones and cancer, as a public health official, I would of course know it! I was shocked.
Now I know that every study that’s ever looked at people who’ve used a cell phone heavily for ten years or more finds a doubledrisk of brain tumors, including industry sponsored studies.” www.ehtrust.org
Joel Moskowitz, PhD, is
Director of the Center for
Family and Community
Health at the School of
Public Health, UC
“Our website EMR Safety addresses scientific and policy developments concerning the health risks from electro-magnetic radiation (EMR). It provides a curated collection of links to articles on cell phones and cordless phones, cell towers, Wi-Fi, Smart Meters and other wireless devices (RF radiation).
"I summarize the peer-reviewed research on health risks associated with wireless radiation including cancer risk, reproductive harm and neurological disorders; and expose the manufacturing of doubt about these risks by industry-linked scientists and organizations.” www.saferemr.com