Blandine, from Wissembourg, France, thinks about the effects of computers on people. She works for one of France’s internet and telephone providers.

I would like to talk about a subject that is close to my heart: the effects of addiction to screens, whether computers or cellphones, on the lives of our children and grandchildren.

I often notice that many young parents, walking or wheeling their babies along in the street, are staring at their cellphones and ignoring their surroundings. They are out of touch with their surroundings.

Such children, unable to attract their parents’ attention, must feel neglected. Which effects could this have in future?

I have the feeling that these gadgets bring a dehumanizing reality. Social life, street life, attention to people and things have largely disappeared, at least in big cities.

On the other hand, with these gadgets, everything is public now, potentially one’s thoughts, one’s photos, one’s movements, one’s purchases. There is no privacy, no freedom anymore, people are using social media nonstop. People are trapped in a virtual world. They are never alone, never able to concentrate and to have their own feedbacks or opinions. 

Spending much time surfing the internet gives us access to much information, but that brings no knowledge and the personal memory isn’t solicited.

Facing screens too often is very bad for the development of children’s brains. When they only stare at the screens because they are left alone, they have a lack of attention, creativity, manual skills and executive functions. 

They are out of touch with others and hear few words when the television is on, all day long. Consequently, their intellectual quotient decrease. The presence of screens in their bedrooms also disturbs their sleep. They don’t sleep enough, and this threatens the development of memory and learning. They become aggressive, impulsive. Because they practice no sports, they can become obese.

However, good practices can be put in place according to the age of the young child:

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