Mentioned in the latest Zone Interdite (M6), technoference is a new kind of disorder in which technology concretely impacts the development of young people. Pediatrician Sylvie Dieu Osika, founding member of the CoSE (screen overexposure collective) explains it to us.
Up to 4 hours of screen time per day in young children
Does a 2 or 3 year old child exposed to screens for several hours a day seem like an aberration to you? However, this is the lot of many little French people, as a subject reported last night in Restricted zone, on children’s screen addiction. On average, our children spend 4 hours a day on screens. More than 8 hours for teenagers. Beyond exposing them to unnecessary risks on the networks, screen time would also cause what we call technoference among the youngest, i.e. a blockage in social skills and the appearance of language. We wanted to find out more by contacting Dr Sylvie Dieu Osika, pediatrician and founding member of the CoSE (screen overexposure collective), also an author Screens – instructions for use with the family” by Éditions Hatier.
What do we call technoference?
A relatively new term linked to screens, technoference is a concept determined by Brandon McDaniel, an American researcher, around ten years ago to study what happens between two people (a couple) when using a screen. But the subject is quickly taken up by pediatricians and psychologists to study the relationship that develops between an adult and a child in the presence of screens. And the observation sends shivers down your spine.
“There are in fact two technoferences” tells us Dr Dieu-Osika, “a very well-known old one, on the television which is on constantly (in 42% of homes!) and which, even if we think the opposite, will capture the attention of the small child, and prevent him from interacting with their parent, to have an appropriate relationship with the adult present. This will fragment his playing, his attention, his learning of language…” dIn these conditions we quickly understand that the child loses a rich part of the interactions necessary for his development. But this is not the only technoference.
“The other technoference, more current, is the fact that the parent is no longer fully available to his child, since he himself is absorbed by his screen. And this unavailability of the parent, in echoes, of which we were not aware until now, also has significant consequences on the development of the child.”
What are the consequences of this interference?
Sucked in by their respective screens, the children below and their parents no longer nurture the relationship suited to the child’s good development. “From the age of 3 months, we know in consultation that parents look at their screens when they have to take care of their baby. But when they look at the screen, they no longer look at the child, and no longer respond or very little to his requests”.
Thus, the doctor regularly observes:
- Parent-child attachment disorders;
- Less quality interactions on a daily basis;
- And as a consequence an impact on language which can result in a delay.
“Language we forget is essential from the first days of babies, who learn to speak in the eyes of their parents. If we don’t look at it, if we don’t include the facial expressions, the voice, the interaction, baby is not capable of recording the signals. The screen considerably impoverishes language and baby will only retain language of poor quality. “
Is this disorder reversible?
Fortunately, a technoference taken in time is not irreversible. This is what Dr Dieu Osika sees, in consultation on this topic every Monday morning in Bondy.
“When we wean them early, when we re-explain to parents how a child acquires language, something they have sometimes lost awareness of, this can transform children. A child who has a language or behavioral disorder linked to exposure to screens will be able to get back into learning in just a few weeks, if we act between the ages of 2 and 4. Beyond that, there will also be improvement, but it will not be as easy.”
However, the pediatrician, who works against the overexposure of children to screens, is not waiting for parents to be made to feel guilty, but for us to become aware of the issues: “It is the technology in place that is frightening today and not the parents who are also trapped in a captive system. But through prevention work, thanks to the media, the more we talk about it, the more parents recognize themselves in the examples of children who have difficulty learning and can take action and correct their addiction.”