Does looking at screens rot your brain?

...or give you square eyes? An expert and a young person share their points of view.

Tech and the online world
By VoiceBox ·


Anna is a recent graduate from University of the Arts London where she studied communications with media. She works in social media marketing and content creation for Parent Zone.

Does looking at screens rot your brain?

The optician pulled a face at the board of letters in front of me. ‘Looks like you need glasses’, he said. I was confused. Bad eyesight didn’t run in my family and here I was straining at the blurred x, y and z at the bottom of the board. Turns out one of my eyes had changed shape, causing a decrease in my vision and yet another demand on my bank account. The reason, the optician explained, was from staring at a screen.

So perhaps I should be a screen critic. But aside from my need to fork out for some trendy specs, I struggle to see any other disadvantages. Screens are great. I can connect, search, learn and communicate whenever I want. A breadth of knowledge at my fingertips, just waiting to be explored, consumed, and passed on.

There is a widespread fear of the screen, particularly among people who have had to adapt to them instead of grow up with them, as Dr Przybylski says. But if it wasn’t for screens, I wouldn’t have passed my degree. I wouldn’t have been able to contact my favourite authors when I was younger to tell them how much I loved them. I wouldn’t have laughed at memes and internet trends or been able to catch up on world news in real time. I wouldn’t have been able to keep in contact with my closest friends or learn about extinct marine life from YouTube videos. Among all the tales of how screens are damaging, their amazing ability to expand your mind has been forgotten.

How much time you spend on a screen isn’t important. OK, perhaps it’s not such a good idea to watch 20 episodes of Friends just before you go to bed - but that sort of behaviour isn’t the screen’s fault, it’s our own. In my opinion, looking after ourselves and learning how much screen time works for us is a better approach to take than banning devices or using punishment if your kid has spent an extra ten minutes on an iPad.

I agree with Dr Przybylski. The main dangers of screens have nothing to do with how much you use them. They come from what we choose to do on them - which is why it’s so important to be resilient and alert to what we see online.

At the end of the day, screens aren't going away. They’re an important part of our lives, and I think they should be embraced instead of feared. After all, who wants to go back to walking miles to a phone box to tell your mum you’ll be late for tea?

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Does looking at screens rot your brain?

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