Dresp-Langley B. Children’s Health in the Digital Age. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020; 17(9):3240. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17093240


Environmental studies, metabolic research, and state of the art research in neurobiology point towards the reduced amount of natural day and sunlight exposure of the developing child, as a consequence of increasingly long hours spent indoors online, as the single unifying source of a whole set of health risks identified worldwide, as is made clear in this review of currently available literature. Over exposure to digital environments, from abuse to addiction, now concerns even the youngest (ages 0 to 2) and triggers, as argued on the basis of clear examples herein, a chain of interdependent negative and potentially long-term metabolic changes. This leads to a deregulation of the serotonin and dopamine neurotransmitter pathways in the developing brain, currently associated with online activity abuse and/or internet addiction, and akin to that found in severe substance abuse syndromes. A general functional working model is proposed under the light of evidence brought to the forefront in this review.

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4. Conclusions

This exploratory focused review of critical elements from the current literature shows quite unequivocally that the projection of increasingly excessive time spent online indoors [167] by increasingly younger children is likely to put their physical and psychological development and general health at risk, in both the short and long term. Early childhood myopia, disturbed circadian rhythms, sleep loss, depression, and ultimately, addiction and the deregulation of central control functions in the brain, initiated by lack of exposure to healthy outdoor light conditions, are the main risks identified here.

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