Screen management or dopamine management?Dopamine is one of the many chemicals that act as neurotransmitters in the brain. Like a goal we’ve just scored or a lottery we’ve won, this chemical mediator, this happiness hormone, has more than one trick up its sleeve… The problem of screens has been studied on several occasions. The danger is that they provide the brain with a dopamine level that is very intense, very fast-acting, very exciting and therefore easily addictive, with the instant, effortless happiness it brings. Unfortunately, this immediate “beefing-up” effect is rarely, if ever, found in screen-free everyday life.
Reading Joël Monzé, doctor of neuropsychologyAccording to neuropsychologist Joël Monzé, the longer young people stay in front of screens, the greater the impact on their brain health. There would be a direct change in brain structures and in the development of cognitive functions, and even worse if the images are violent. This link will take you to the website of Joël Monzé, a leading authority on the subject. Better safe than sorry…Their brains are so fragile and vulnerable. We wear protective helmets for cycling, field hockey and skiing, so why not for screens? Dopamine is such an effective reward that no teacher or parent can induce this happiness naturally. The youngster who has become accustomed to these screens unconsciously expects this reward. They soon lose interest in the classroom, where sustained effort is required. The brain becomes lazy; it hopes and waits for its dopamine, but without being able to work to earn this reward naturally. In short, the ability to concentrate and pay attention is greatly affected. Here are a few tips from the same neuropsychologist, Joël Monzé, and from my own experience as a mother.
Healthy screen management for a healthy brain!The first tip would be to be aware that your children are imitating you at all times. Your own screen management will be the exemplary basis of your teachings. Be leaders in this respect! Lead by example!
- Keep screens in common areas where you can control them, not in bedrooms, and ban access to them at least one hour before bedtime.
- Encourage “smart” choices, i.e.
- Choose your own programs or films to watch with your children
- Watch and know what your kids are listening to
- Select and sort programs and games
- Differentiate between leisure and learning activities
- Reduce screen time as much as possible, with clear schedules and limits.
- Eliminate access to screens before the age of three if the child is alone;
- Eliminate access to tablets before the age of six;
- Encourage concrete, “real” play
- Play outside with your children every day
- Encourage movement, sports, psychomotor blocks, working in the garden, swimming, walking for errands, etc.
- Don’t worry about children getting bored – it’s great for their boundless creativity!
By Chantale Hébert, tutor at SOSteacher
B.A., AMI, M. Éd.