TG Escapes Blog
Swapping Blue Light for Sunlight
It doesn’t seem like a week goes by without some press headline warning parents about the perils of childhood tech addiction. The reality is, however, that while there is a rapidly growing field of research around the notion, it is still at the stage of empirical data collection and analysis. A rather analogue and lumbering approach to an inherently digital, rapidly emerging phenomena, which has yet to produce any clear results and conclusions, let alone a diagnosis.
Even one of the biggest reports to date, EU Kids Online, concluded that there is no straightforward relationship between the time spent online and the negative effects that appear to be manifesting themselves in many of the more enthusiastic internet surfers and game players. However, it does not take a rocket (or social or medical) scientist to understand that the more time a child devotes glued to a screen, then the less time they will be spending outside, enjoying hobbies, being physical and hanging out with friends…in real space and in the flesh.
One of the more decisive findings of recent scientific research, however, has found that exposure to light at night time suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone that is one of our bodies’ most vital. Melatonin regulates our sleep and wake cycles, and we all know how essential a good night’s sleep is for our general health and wellbeing, especially in the young. It is also essential for the maintenance of our immune system function and cardio metabolism which, if under par, can lay us bear to dangers such as cancer, obesity and Type 2 diabetes (all of which are more likely to befall the under active). Blue light, emitted by computer, television, smartphone and tablet screens, is the most pernicious suppressor of melatonin. So get those screens out of bedrooms.
In contrast, exposure to natural light at the right time of day suppresses our melatonin when it needs to be, allowing our pineal gland to recharge its batteries in readiness for a good burst at bedtime. Sunlight also stimulates our production of serotonin which has all sorts of positive benefits for our digestive system, but also makes us feel good, more alert and more able to learn. We need to get our children outside more.
Giving them an indoor space outdoors, where they can relax away from the insidious allure of screen based pursuits, is a big step in the right direction. A space they can call their own, to make and play music loudly, to create messily, and engage with their friends privately. A wonderful, bright and airy space in which to do their homework, read or play cards, whilst all the time topping up their serotonin and regulating their melatonin.
Whilst a Garden Escape Annexe can go a long way to providing all these benefits, it can’t unfortunately do much to manage the random surges in testosterone and oestrogen that pepper the dialogue with your tween and teenage children. Nor can it make the internet safer – only you can do that by talking, which is so much easier to do after everyone’s had a good nights sleep!
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