The start of a new school year means another year of learning and growth at Chicago Waldorf School, and with that comes our newly updated side yard! After a summer full of hard work and volunteering by Waldorf faculty, students, and community members, our newly redesigned side yard was unveiled at the start of the school year.
The new additions to the side yard include a slide and tire climb attached to the barn, a sandbox, a grassy hill for climbing, and a brand new fence. Waldorf students are continuously using play as a tool for learning, discovering the world around them, finding a sense of self, and also forming relationships with others. These additions will provide and even more engaging space for students to play, discover, and learn.
Thanks to our community volunteers who invested materials and chipped in to create this amazing recreation of the sideyard. Your work is enjoyed every day by the children!
Special thanks go out to Ashley Gambill, who led the project and contributed many hours to its success!
Chicago Waldorf School is also greatly appreciative of the following people and organizations for generously contributing their time, energy, and resources that helped make this happen:
- Gethsamene Gardens: donated, delivered and unloaded 47 free pallets
- Jay and staff at Clark/Devon Hardware: donated over $300 worth of supplies for repairing, creating, and sustaining of the fence
- Tanja Buehler with Atwood Hoffmann Design LLC: created the design for the grass mounds and hauled old dirt and sand out and put new of both, built sandbox
- Angelo & Elena Nikolov: donated sand, money for the slide and other new equipment to come
- Mark Miller: was the architect of the original barn and also planned the newest additions and alterations
- Jim Moratto: worked with Mark to install the slide, the new archways in the barn and the railings for the tire climb
- Pat O'Malley: helped build the tire climb and new entryway and loaned his own tools to help build the fence
- John Augustyn: built the new entryway and tire climb as well as the new table in the courtyard
- Michael Berger: led the building in the pallet fence
- Theresa Hermanns: helped stain the new pallet fence and water the grass on the weekends
- High School Students: for their community service: Olivia Chambers, George Galkine, Jessica Kriho, Chris Kriho, Nate McIntosh, Sali Hasanbegovic, Nicole Wade, Konnie Stormont, Julian Berrios and Aiden Zielinksi as well as others students, Ford Walters and Margot Chambers
- Naomi Love and Family: donated all the tires for the tire climb
- Sideyard Task Force: designed and helped create the idea of the alternations. This group included Ashley Gambill, Andrea Shaffer, Jackie Votanek, Kristin Garrison, Katherine Rogers and Luke Goodwin, in particular who continuously checked for progress on the project, stained pallets and watered the grass
SLIDE SHOW ABOVE: Navigate the photos with the left and right arrows; or click on the image to enlarge it to full view.
Congratulations to our seniors who have come to the culmination of their Waldorf education. After their senior presentations and this Spring's service learning field trips, they have now turned to the tasks of preparing their summer plans and prepping for new experiences in college, professional training in work experiences, and travel opportunities too. We wish them the best and look forward to hearing about all their accomplishments in the future!
25 seniors venture into varied pursuits and passions...
Here are profiles of their plans for 2016-17:
Paul Bonaccorsi anticipates taking classes and continuing to create art. Paul is a dedicated artist and will continue to develop his skills in this realm while living in Chicago. His long-term goal is to establish a career in the arts.
Maddy Byrne will attend Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. Since 1837, Mount Holyoke has been a pioneer in higher education and leadership for women. Maddy was impressed with the strong sense of community, renowned professors and intellectual passion on campus. Mount Holyoke is part of a consortium, which includes Amherst, Smith, Hampshire and UMass – Amherst; students can cross-register for classes and also join clubs on other campuses. Maddy already contacted a club bringing musicians and other performers to the consortium.
Phil Collins looks forward to immersing himself in the creative world at Parson’s – The New School for Design in Greenwich Village in New York City. Phil visited twice and was especially energized by the unique workspaces, including professionally staffed studios, print shops, photography labs, metalworking studios and rapid prototyping facilities. Most classes have 15 students or less. The first year will be a foundation year; following that, Phil anticipates that he will major in Communications Design (a broad field that encompasses Graphic Design).
Maddie Franklin will attend Knox College, located about three hours west of Chicago, in Galesburg, Illinois. Maddie plans to study computer science, but also has a longstanding interest in Japanese studies. When visiting Knox, Maddie found that she liked the size of the campus and the welcoming attitude of students and professors. She also sat in on a computer science class and found it quite inspiring. First, however, Maddie hopes to take a gap period during the fall term; this will allow her to work, and also to take a special trip to the Caribbean with her mom.
Guthrie Gates will further his education at Ohio University, a school that ranks very highly for student satisfaction and is considered a “Best Buy” by the Fiske Guide. Ohio University has strong and extensive programs in music production, sound engineering, music composition and music for film. Guthrie will explore these areas and more. This summer Guthrie will travel with his family to California, and also hopes to begin making connections with music recording studios.
Kyra Gleason will attend the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, a Big Ten university with an abundance of school spirit and a great college town. Kyra absolutely loves football, and will definitely be cheering in the stands, especially since Jim Harbaugh has returned to his alma mater as Head Coach! Kyra looks forward to so many aspects of college life: study abroad, research opportunities, community service, and sports; she may even take up field hockey again. Kyra hopes to study Biology, Spanish, or both, and will consider pre-med.
Niko Gorman will take a gap year, prior to college, to explore his interests in math and physics at a local community college. Starting in the summer he will study for certification in Internet Security from CompTIA Security+, a globally recognized credential for IT professionals. He will also study various programming languages in order to expand his knowledge in that area as well.
Graham Heavenrich will attend the University of Miami in Florida. Graham’s likely major will be Communications, and he may want to find a way to integrate that field with his interests in music, technology and business. The Princeton Review ranks the University of Miami #6 in the nation for race/class interaction, and is named a best Southeastern college. Prior to college, Graham will travel to Colombia for a couple of months to visit friends made while on exchange. He will also continue to shepherd his various profitable online businesses.
Taylor Jones will attend a 17-month hands-on program at Lincoln College of Technology (Lincoln Tech) in Melrose Park, Illinois, in order to become an Automotive Technician. Taylor already has some experience working on cars and knows that this is a career for which he can be enthusiastic! In the short term, this program will prepare Taylor for employment at car dealerships, independent automotive shops, service centers, and fleet maintenance departments. Taylor’s long-term goal is to own his own auto repair shop.
Liza Kahn will take a gap semester in order to study the German language intensively in Berlin via an 8-week program, found through the Goethe Institute. This opportunity will build on her exchange experience and deepen her understanding of German language and culture. Liza will also apply to liberal arts colleges for entrance in the spring semester. With many interests, including Psychology, Journalism, German and Pre-Law, Liza is looking forward to academic exploration. Wherever she lands, she also hopes to be involved with track/running, photography and yearbook.
Juliet Kelson will further her education at Macalester College, one of the few national liberal arts colleges located in a large city. Macalester has an international focus; its International Studies department is one of the oldest (and deepest) in the nation, and Juliet is considering this field of study. Juliet is looking forward to studying abroad, as well as the interdisciplinary nature of a liberal arts education. Minneapolis-St. Paul has a vibrant music scene, and Juliet anticipates some new performance opportunities.
Maddie Kelson will move to Nashville, Tennessee for a self-financed gap year prior to enrolling at Macalester College in Minnesota. Maddie plans to immerse herself in the music scene of the “Country Music Capital of the U.S.” With no academic demands for a full year, she will be able to write, perform, and learn the “ins” and “outs” of making it in the music business. Once at Macalester, in the fall of 2017, Maddie hopes to pursue a field of study that will overlap with her interests in philosophy, writing, psychology and music.
Dylan Kulik will also join the student body at Macalester College. He is looking forward to academic exploration in the areas of environmental science, geology, geography, and more. Dylan is already in touch with other incoming Macalester students who are interested in environmental concerns and renewable energy. Given Dylan’s interests, it is fortuitous that Macalester ranks first in the nation for National Science Foundation grants per capita at liberal arts colleges. Dylan is also happy to have Juliet Kelson (also attending Macalester) and Sam Liss (attending St. Olaf) nearby.
Delphine Lazar will attend Eugene Lang – The New School for Liberal Arts, located in Greenwich Village in New York City. Delphine is currently interested in one of two majors: Journalism, or Culture & Media. She has also applied for a 5-year Dual Degree Program offered in conjunction with Parson’s – The New School for Design. At Parson’s, Delphine is attracted to the majors of Fashion Design or Integrated Design. Eugene Lang is notable for its seminar-style classes, and for its occasionally experimental and avant-garde courses.
Nick Leonard will attend Skidmore College in New York to study theater. Skidmore has a unique theater program, which allows greater immersion into the craft than the typical liberal arts college; however, students still benefit from a well-rounded education and the variety of opportunities available. He is considering a minor in Literature, particularly early 20th century literature, or Economics. Although he was offered a fully paid Freshman Semester in London for fall of 2016, he has opted instead to become acclimated to the school with the rest of the freshman class.
Sam Liss will head to St. Olaf College in Minnesota. He was attracted to St. Olaf’s strong programs in Math and Theater. Sam is particularly excited to study advanced math and describes it as a beautiful subject that approaches philosophy. Another appealing program is The Great Conversation, a series of five courses about western civilization, which traces the evolution of literacy and artistic expression, philosophic thought, religious belief, and the sciences of human behavior into the modern world. Sam may participate in chess club, but looks forward to exploring his interests.
Emina Music will attend Lake Forest College, an advantageous choice. She is undecided about a major, but leans toward the sciences, and Lake Forest will be opening a state-of-the-art multi-disciplinary science center in 2018. Pharmacy and neuroscience are future career possibilities. Emina found Lake Forest to be a peaceful, harmonious and beautiful campus, and the students seemed very happy. She is interested in intramural sports and internships. Emina also received an art scholarship and may be interested in becoming involved with the student-run art museum on campus.
Max Renton will attend Central Saint Martins in London, England, a constituent college of the University of the Arts London. Currently it is the top ranking fashion design school in the world. Max is enthusiastic about the challenge that he will encounter next year. He described it as a competitive community in which students must work hard each year to secure a space in the next year’s class; Max believes this will challenge him to do his best work. At the same time, Max will have the freedom to explore various areas of specialization, such as graphic design and industrial design.
Chris Richards will attend Columbia College Chicago, the largest and most diverse arts/media college in the U.S. He finds it to be a creative and inspiring environment. Video game design is an appealing field of study for Chris; he especially looks forward to the group projects that are integral to this program. In fact, Columbia has a number of related majors: Game Development, Game Programming, Game Sound Design, Mobile Media Programming, Game Art, and Interaction Design. Chris plans to live at home for the first semester.
Siubhan Stormont will take a gap year prior to attending Southern Illinois University in Carbondale as a full-tuition University Excellence Scholarship recipient. Siubhan plans to study drama and minor in dance. A feature of the department is that all theater majors are assigned a Theater Faculty Mentor. In addition, the McLeod Summer Playhouse -- a professional theater company, which presents popular theater to the southern Illinois region -- provides professional level experience for SIU students. Siubhan also looks forward to studying abroad and to the numerous extracurricular options.
Silvia Sukenic will enroll at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a James Scholar, an honors program that offers professional development workshops, small honors classes, and research opportunities. Silvia will major in Special Education at UIUC, a program which is ranked 8th in the nation. Silvia is enthusiastic about working with young children, but will be certified to work with ages 5 – 21. She was impressed that the campus was quite diverse. La Casa Cultural Latina, an organization that hosts cultural, educational and social advocacy programs, holds interest for Silvia.
Conor Sullivan will attend Rollins College in Florida, where he is one of ten students who received the Alfond Scholarship. Alfond Scholars are mentored as candidates for intellectual academic recognition as Rhodes, Truman, and Goldwater scholars, and as recipients of other prestigious awards. On his visit to Rollins, Conor was impressed with the style of teaching, the sense of community, and the support for self-directed learning. It was clear to Conor that the students at Rollins enjoy learning and want to be there. Conor looks forward to study abroad opportunities, particularly in Spain.
Shannon Sullivan will also attend Rollins College as part of the Honor’s Program as a Dean’s Scholar, and will live in the honors dorm. Shannon notes that Rollins is a beautiful campus with faculty who seem to share some similarities with Waldorf teachers. Shannon hopes to study abroad, possibly more than once. She can envision getting involved with theater productions, but would like to leave the possibilities for involvement (as well as her major) open for the time being. Shannon will travel to Colombia this summer to reconnect with friends from her exchange experience.
Tan Vasikachart will attend IFA (International Fashion Academy) Paris, a program that is limited to 25 incoming students each year. Tan is one of five finalists for one of two full tuition scholarships that are awarded each year. She was impressed with the way in which the program combines contemporary fashion with French heritage. IFA Paris also has campuses in Shanghai and Istanbul, and offers exchange opportunities on those campuses and elsewhere for students to study abroad. Tan hopes to travel with her family this summer before departing for Paris.
Grace White will attend Knox College, one of the Colleges That Change Lives. During her visit to Knox, Grace was impressed by the openness of the people she met on campus. In true liberal arts fashion, she hopes to find a way to combine her interests in photography, German, and history. Of note, Washington Monthly ranks Knox College #11 nationally based on contribution to the public good. In addition, a new arts building, complete with photography dark rooms, will open in the fall.
Congratulations to all our graduates!
Also related: The Colleges & Universities that accepted the CWS Class of 2016 graduates
BIG NEWS! Congratulate our High School Athletes…
The High School Boys Varsity Volleyball team won the championship game last night against the Lyceé Francais team in the Chicago Metro Prep division. During the regular season, they were undefeated in league and non-conference games! This small 7 person team posted a 14-0 record including the playoffs. The team’s level of play is so exceptional because this group (of primarily 10th graders) have been together for so long; they have built up experience and trust; an amazing work ethos and collaborative relationship because of the way they have approached sports together. This blend of strategy, holding positions and familiar teamwork has led to the team's stability and excellent gameplay.
Congratulations to head coach, Daniele Marder, MVP of the tournament, Levi Schneider, and all the athletes on the team for their outstanding efforts!
What a great season so far; Next the team will be competing in the regionals tournament on May 23rd-25th for boasting rights against regional competition in Illinois. We send them our best wishes for their final games of the year!
Here are a few moments from the championship game:
Aided by setter Andrew Chungbin, spikers Aiden Zielinski and Harry Figiel in action at the Lycee front line.
Levi Schneider and Elijah Marder form a wall of defense at the net. Conference champs- 3rd year in a row!
Not pictured: Alexander Levinson and Ayastan Sherniyazov provided a strong and secure back line of defense
receiving spikes and feeding returns to setter Andrew Chungbin to place for the front line attackers.
Here's the full team at the culmintion of their 2015-16 season-
L to R / Back Row: Harry Figiel, Aiden Zielinski, Head Coach Daniele Marder, Levi Schneider
Front Row: Ayastan Sherniyazov, Andrew Chungbin, Elijah Marder, Alexander Levinson
Beginning senior year with good clean fun--of sorts!--at the Marine Biology Field Research Trip to Hermit Island, Maine.
This year at Chicago Waldorf High School, twenty-two of our graduating seniors have applied to a college or university. The schools below have accepted our graduating seniors as of 4/11/2016. Merit scholarship offers have been generous as colleges attempt to lure the most qualified students.
In fact, in 2015-16 the seniors amassed over
$3 million in merit scholarship offers!
A number of colleges/universities are new to our list when compared with the last few years. These schools include New York University, University of Miami, Central St. Martins – University of the Arts London, Arizona State Honors College, University of Central Florida Honors College, Fashion Institute of Technology, and Berklee College of Music. College familiarity with CWS continues to expand with each graduating class. Congratulations to our seniors and their families!
Schools that accepted CWS students from the Class of 2016: *
Arizona State U Honors College, AZ
Beloit College, WI
Berklee College of Music, MA
Bournemouth University, UK
Butler University, IN
California College of the Arts
Central St. Martins– UAL, UK
Centre College, KY
Chapman University, CA
Cleveland Institute of Art, OH
Columbia College Chicago, IL
Cottey College, MO
DePaul University, IL
Dominican University, IL
Earlham College, IN
Elmhurst College, IL
Emerson College, MA
Emily Carr U of Art & Design, BC
Eugene Lang– The New School, NY
Fashion Institute of Technology, NY
Illinois Institute of Technology
Indiana University– Bloomington
International Fashion Academy, Paris
Kalamazoo College, MI
Knox College, IL
Lake Forest College, IL
Lawrence University, WI
Lewis & Clark College, OR
Loyola Marymount University, CA
Loyola University Chicago, IL
Macalester College, MN
Miami University of Ohio
Monmouth College, IL
Mount Holyoke College, MA
Muhlenberg College, PA
New College of Florida
New York University, NY
Oberlin College, OH
Parson’s–The New School for Design, NY
Rollins College, FL
Roosevelt University, IL
St. Olaf College, MN
Santa Clara University, CA
Skidmore College, NY
Southern Illinois University– Carbondale
University of Central Florida Honors College
University of Denver, CO
University of Houston Honors College
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
University of Iowa
University of Miami, FL
University of Michigan– Ann Arbor
University of Missouri– Columbia
University of North Carolina at Asheville
University of Texas at Dallas
University of Wisconsin– Madison
University of Wisconsin– Milwaukee
* Listed as of April 11, 2016
Above: The 4th graders welcome younger children to join in the Maypole dance in 2015
Dear Friends, Neighbors and Families throughout Chicago. You are warmly invited to,
May Fair 2016
Saturday, May 14th / 10am – 4pm
at Chicago Waldorf School – Rogers Park Campus
1300 W. Loyola Ave. / btwn Glenwood & Lakewood Ave.
open to the public Map & Directions
The Chicago Waldorf School May Fair brings together everything you love about Waldorf: community connections for the parents; old-fashioned playful fun for the kids.
Activities for All Ages
New this year; enjoy dousing some of your favorite faculty and parents in the dunk tank. Activities include: face-painting, tie-dyeing shirts, hand henna tattoos & child-made crafts. See our community perform on the Entertainment Stage: music, drama, singing, circus club performances, storytelling and more.
Children’s Maypole Dance (time: 12:00 noon / location: Street Stage)
The iconic focus of May Fair is the children’s maypole dance, a tradition started centuries ago. The maypole bears garlands and is a symbol for growth and the Spring. The 4th grade will weave the maypole ribbons in complex dance patterns to the musical accompaniment of the 5th grade. In the participation round, younger children are invited to partner with the 4th graders to wind and weave the maypole.
Shop for Crafts and Special Opportunities
The May Fair features a Silent Auction offering great packages. And we have many unique vendors and exhibitors. Shop the Artisan Vendors tables for beautiful wares!
There is a Children’s Vendors Area too. Here 5th graders sell fairy doorways.
The kindergarten tea room, treasure hunt, make jump-ropes, “Roll the Troll” bowling, face painting, storytelling, and many more games await our youngest children...
tie-dye table, hair-braiding, cake walk, basketball hoop shots, Plinko board & dragon shoot, plunger derby, are some of the activities offered…
hand henna tattoos, high school talent show, music performances, dramatic scenes and more…
Inquiries? Call the school’s Main Office: 773.465.2662
Troll bowling in the young children’s activity area / Older kids assist with tie-dyeing in 2015
Above: children enjoy the swift challenge of the plunger derby Below: Two children wear flower crowns
Celebrate Spring outdoors with us at the May Fair!
See you at Chicago Waldorf School’s Rogers Park Campus on Saturday May 14th / 10am-4pm
the 2016 spring festival RECYCLE DRIVE
Its Spring; Lets celebrate rebirth from decay and breathe new life into cast-aways and discards! Time to clear out those closets and lighten the clutter in your basement or attic. Our community members' material donations are being accepted this week until Friday, April 15th. In our main entrance you will find labelled bins and buckets where you can donate these used items for recycling:
Computers • Printers/Screens • Electronics
Batteries • Cell-phones • Ink Cartridges
All electronics will be recycled through a CWS parent owned company, Huron Paper Stock. Or donate your used clothing & shoes for children through a midwives program supporting new parents in Casa Maternal de Nacimiento in Guatemala.
Clothing & Shoes (for Children in Guatemala)
All clothes and shoes will be donated to children from birth to 10 years old. Their regional weather is cold and rainy- so warm clothes welcome and please no shorts/skirts/flip flops/sleeveless shirts. Only sizes up to 10 yrs. old will be shipped.
To conclude and honor the day's hard work, join the school students, faculty and staff for our annual:
CWS Spring Festival
Friday April 15th • 12:30 pm
Auditorium • Rogers Park Campus
To celebrate Spring's outward facing sense of renewal, the students engage in festival activities throughout the day including: work details that pick up trash in the neighborhood. Caretaking of the 2nd generation Sophia Garden, planting and mulching of the grounds and sideyard. Cleaning of the school hallways, auditorium and maintenance of the recycling programs bins as well as final sorting and loading of all materials collected from the 2016 Recycle Drive.
After a shared lunch across partnered grades, the full grades and High School come together in the auditorium for a Spring Festival Assembly. Parents and friends are welcome to attend at 12:30 in the auditorium.
Finally students conclude the festival in the afternoon with various races and team games at Albion beach, while the older grades play capture the flag at a nearby beach.
Thanks to our recycling partners:
Huron Paper Stock for supporting our Recycle Drive.
The Guatemala Midwives Project for sending clothes and shoes to Guatemala.
Images above: Students participate in the 2015 Spring Festival and Recycle Drive
Talking With Our Children About Difference
An Inclusion and Diversity Symposium
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Chicago Waldorf School-Rogers Park Campus
1300 W Loyola Avenue at Lakewood
High School English Room-3rd floor
As our world grows more connected it will become increasingly important for the “adults of tomorrow” to be able to work collaboratively with a broadly diverse population. Race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexuality and ability are just some examples of difference we encounter in our time.
Join the discussion as the Inclusion & Diversity Committee hosts a conversation on “talking about difference” with our children while cultivating a sense of appreciation for others.
This parent evening is sponsored by the Inclusion & Diversity Committee, and supported by the CWS faculty & administration
Photos from 2015:
Top- 1st graders in the playground
Side- Seniors and 1st grade buddies carve pumpkins
In our series of parent education perspectives comes this analysis from Victoria L. Dinckley, M.D. for Psychology Today Magazine. Dr. Dunckley is an award-winning integrative child psychiatrist and is also the author of the book "Reset Your Child's Brain: A Four-Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades, and Boost Social Skills by Reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen-Time" Read her article about the effects of screens on child behaviors and cognitive development:
Screentime Is Making Kids Moody, Crazy and Lazy
"Psychology Today Magazine," published: August 18th, 2015
Children or teens who are “revved up” and prone to rages or—alternatively—who are depressed and apathetic have become disturbingly commonplace. Chronically irritable children are often in a state of abnormally high arousal, and may seem “wired and tired.” That is, they’re agitated but exhausted. Because chronically high arousal levels impact memory and the ability to relate, these kids are also likely to struggle academically and socially.
At some point, a child with these symptoms may be given a mental-health diagnosis such as major depression, bipolar disorder, or ADHD, and offered corresponding treatments, including therapy and medication. But often these treatments don’t work very well, and the downward spiral continues.
Both parents and clinicians may be “barking up the wrong tree.” That is, they’re trying to treat what looks like a textbook case of mental disorder, but failing to rule out and address the most common environmental cause of such symptoms—everyday use of electronics. Time and again, I’ve realized that regardless of whether there exists any “true” underlying diagnoses, successfully treating a child with mood dysregulation today requires methodically eliminating all electronics use for several weeks—an “electronics fast” —to allow the nervous system to “reset.”
If done correctly, this intervention can produce deeper sleep, a brighter and more even mood, better focus and organization, and an increase in physical activity. The ability to tolerate stress improves, so meltdowns diminish in both frequency and severity. The child begins to enjoy the things they used to, is more drawn to nature, and imaginary or creative play returns. In teens and young adults, an increase in self-directed behavior is observed—the exact opposite of apathy and hopelessness.
It’s a beautiful thing.
At the same time, the electronic fast reduces or eliminates the need for medication while rendering other treatments more effective. Improved sleep, more exercise, and more face-to-face contact with others compound the benefits—an upward spiral! After the fast, once the brain is reset, the parent can carefully determine how much if any electronics use the child can tolerate without symptoms returning.
Restricting electronics may not solve everything, but it’s often a missing link in treatment when kids are stuck.
But why is the electronic fast intervention so effective? Because it reverses much of the physiological dysfunction produced by daily screen time.
Children’s brains are much more sensitive to electronics use than most of us realize. In fact, contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t take much electronic stimulation to throw a sensitive and still-developing brain off track. Also, many parents mistakenly believe that interactive screen-time—Internet or social media use, texting, emailing, and gaming—isn’t harmful, especially compared to passive screen time like watching TV. In fact, interactive screen time is more likely to cause sleep, mood, and cognitive issues, because it’s more likely to cause hyperarousal and compulsive use.
Six ways electronic screen time makes kids angry, depressed and unmotivated...
Here’s a look at six physiological mechanisms that explain electronics’ tendency to produce mood disturbance:
1. Screen time disrupts sleep and desynchronizes the body clock
Because light from screen devices mimics daytime, it suppresses melatonin, a sleep signal released by darkness. Just minutes of screen stimulation can delay melatonin release by several hours and desynchronize the body clock. Once the body clock is disrupted, all sorts of other unhealthy reactions occur, such as hormone imbalance and brain inflammation. Plus, high arousal doesn’t permit deep sleep, and deep sleep is how we heal.
2. Screen time desensitizes the brain’s reward system
Many children are “hooked” on electronics, and in fact gaming releases so much dopamine—the “feel-good” chemical—that on a brain scan it looks the same as cocaine use. But when reward pathways are overused, they become less sensitive, and more and more stimulation is needed to experience pleasure. Meanwhile, dopamine is also critical for focus and motivation, so needless to say, even small changes in dopamine sensitivity can wreak havoc on how well a child feels and functions.
3. Screen time produces “light-at-night”
Light-at-night from electronics has been linked to depression and even suicide risk in numerous studies. In fact, animal studies show that exposure to screen-based light before or during sleep causes depression, even when the animal isn’t looking at the screen. Sometimes parents are reluctant to restrict electronics use in a child’s bedroom because they worry the child will enter a state of despair—but in fact removing light-at-night is protective.
4. Screen time induces stress reactions
Both acute stress (fight-or-flight) and chronic stress produce changes in brain chemistry and hormones that can increase irritability. Indeed, cortisol, the chronic stress hormone, seems to be both a cause and an effect of depression—creating a vicious cycle. Additionally, both hyperarousal and addiction pathways suppress the brain’s frontal lobe, the area where mood regulation actually takes place.
5. Screen time overloads the sensory system, fractures attention, and depletes mental reserves
Experts say that what’s often behind explosive and aggressive behavior is poor focus. When attention suffers, so does the ability to process one’s internal and external environment, so little demands become big ones. By depleting mental energy with high visual and cognitive input, screen time contributes to low reserves. One way to temporarily “boost” depleted reserves is to become angry, so meltdowns actually become a coping mechanism.
6. Screen-time reduces physical activity levels and exposure to “green time”
Research shows that time outdoors, especially interacting with nature, can restore attention, lower stress, and reduce aggression. Thus, time spent with electronics reduces exposure to natural mood enhancers.
In today’s world, it may seem crazy to restrict electronics so drastically. But when kids are struggling, we’re not doing them any favors by leaving electronics in place and hoping they can wind down by using electronics in "moderation." It just doesn't work. In contrast, by allowing the nervous system to return to a more natural state with a strict fast, we can take the first step in helping a child become calmer, stronger, and happier. ---
The article can be read at its source:
Psychology Today Magazine website
Photo: Chubykin Arkady/Shutterstock Top: pathdoc/fotolia