The Screen Dilemma: A 10 year olds perspective

Ayaan Mukherjee
6 min readMar 28, 2021

Hi, my name is Ayaan and I am 10 years old. I decided to write this article so I can tell you my experience with the screen and the stuff my brain did when I watched things. You are probably thinking that if I am 10 how would I know this stuff. Well, my mom is a neuropsychologist for kids, which, I think, is a fancy term for “brain doctor”. She has been talking to me about brain and screen time since I was like 6!! As you can guess I was not very happy about it. I know you are thinking that why isn’t my mom just writing this article. Well, if my mom wrote this article it would be boring with all the grown-up words and sentences that you would not want to read. So I thought it would be better if I try to explain what’s going on up in our brains by using words you would understand (though there might be some words you will not know how to pronounce but they are mostly parts of the brain) so you can make better decisions about your screen time.

I am going to start by telling you about an experience I had with screen time, which helped me get why my mom keeps bugging me about having too much screen time. When coronavirus became bad in the U.S. in April 2020, my school started remote learning and I got my very own laptop. I was so excited to have my own laptop in my room that I did not have to share with anyone. My teachers often sent YouTube videos for us to watch for class. One day, while watching a PE (which you might call gym) video on YouTube, I saw another video right next to it that looked very interesting. So, after watching the PE video, I clicked on that video and watched it. It was hilarious! Then I saw another video right next to the one I was watching that caught my eye. So, in between classes and assignments, I kept watching YouTube videos and was on the screen way more than I should have been. Sometimes, I even woke up in the middle of the night to watch a video that I had seen which I did not get a chance to watch. I was not getting enough sleep or rest and, basically, I got HOOKED! Even though I was tired all the time, it was way too tempting and I could not stop myself. This lasted for about a week, when my mom finally caught me watching a video before I went to bed! When she started asking me about these videos, I had to finally confess how much I had been watching.

I am sure, just like me, you are thinking “Why did I get hooked?” “Why is getting hooked bad?” These are the questions I am trying to answer. This part might get a little boring because I have to use some boring grown up language, so bear with me.

So our brain produces this thing, well it’s a chemical called dopamine, which is basically something that makes us feel happy. When we do something fun a rush of dopamine is released and goes to something called the reward system or reward center. This reward center tells us what we are doing feels good and we should do more of it. Ok, I’m going to make this a little interesting…with candy!!!! No, you don’t get any candy, so your dopamine can relax, but we get to talk about you getting candy. Let’s say you walk into a new candy store and you take a bite of the most delicious, gooey, scrumptious mint chocolate you have ever had. When you take that bite, dopamine is released into your brain and it floods the reward center. You start feeling great and your brain tells you that you should do it more and you keep taking more bites.

Once I understood the connection between dopamine and candy, I was able to see what dopamine did when I was watching YouTube videos (my mom explained that this could also happen when we play video games). When I watched the first video it made me feel great, the dopamine rushed to the reward center and told me that this was so much fun and I should do it again. The more I watched, the more dopamine was released and my brain was hooked to having that good feeling and wanted more and more of it. To get that good feeling, I kept doing it sacrificing my sleep, rest, and probably schoolwork.

When my mom found out that I was watching YouTube I was scared that I would get into trouble but when I didn’t I was surprised. As my mom had always done, she talked to me about how easy it was to get hooked on to these videos. She asked me to take a break from the extra screen use, besides schoolwork, for at least a week, which felt like a really long time. So every day when I finished schoolwork, I brought my laptop to my parents room where it would stay for the night. Although not very happy about this whole situation, I did feel relieved. I was able to sleep better at night, was more rested, and I didn’t have to worry about quickly closing a tab every time one of my parents walked into my room.

I hope that reading about my experience with screen, you are able to understand how easy it is to get hooked on to screens. With this understanding I was able to make better decisions about my screen time. YouTube still has very tempting videos and, don’t get me wrong, I still want to click on them but I am very aware of these temptations. Being aware of these temptations and knowing what they lead to helps me control my behavior. With the help of my parents, I have been able to set structure and time limits with screens (whether it be my laptop, TV, or Xbox), which helps me not to continuously want to be on the screen. Now I feel I can enjoy the screen time when I am on it without getting hooked on it.

I mentioned structure and time limits up there right? Let me check. Yup, I did. Well I want to talk about what my structure and time limits for the screen looks like. As I told you earlier, my mom is a “brain doctor” so I down have always had structure and time limits for screens, which had to be changed a little bit because of remote learning and cancellation of all after school activities. I usually get an hour and a half on my Xbox on both Saturday and Sunday (just so you know the rule in my home is “no violent games”) . If we are not busy on weekends, I also watch movies with my parents. Usually when it’s not Winter break, Summer break, or Spring break I don’t get to play on my Xbox on the weekdays but since, you know, the coronavirus shut my school and all after school activities, I have more time on my hands (don’t we all) so I get 30 minutes on my Xbox on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I only get my laptop in the morning when it’s school time and it does not stay in my room anymore. As soon as the school is over, I take the laptop to my parents room. I have not watched any videos on YouTube since that incident and have not really been tempted to watch any lately. So, that’s my structure for screen time.

My mom has been bugging me about many other things too like how important sleep, reading, writing and other things are and if I have the time I would like to write about these too. I think these articles could be helpful for you so you can decide what is important for you. You know, I think I might write about sleep for the next article. Well, bye!