Screen Time Works as Well as Sedatives in Calming Kids Down

Surprising zero parents, a new study finds that iPads have magical powers over children.

<a href="http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/reading-e-book-gm515810736-88676953?st=_p_childrenipad">Sasa Dinic</a>/iStock

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Have you ever witnessed that wide-eyed, slack-jawed look that comes over children’s faces when they’re given a tablet computer to play with? Child psychologists have long warned that relying too much on “screen time” to appease kids could stunt their emotional development.

Parents and nurses were also more satisfied with the anesthesia procedure when the kids were given an iPad beforehand.

But what about kids who need to be calmed down for the sake of their health, like children who are about to go into surgery? Doctors often dose children with sedatives before they receive anesthesia. But new research shows that screen time may actually be a better option.

A new study by Dr. Dominique Chassard and colleagues at the Hôpital Mère-Enfant, part of the Hospices Civils de Lyon in France, concludes that iPads are just as effective at distracting kids from an upcoming surgery as conventional sedatives. Researchers looked at pediatric surgical patients between the ages of 4 and 10. Twenty minutes before they were given anesthesia, one group of kids was given a sedative called midazolam while the other group was given an iPad with age-appropriate games.

Two independent psychologists measured the patients’ anxiety at various stages before and after the surgery using a standard behavioral checklist. In the end, the levels of anxiety among both kids and their parents were similar in both groups, meaning electronic games were just as effective as the drugs. Parents and nurses were also more satisfied with the anesthesia procedure when the kids were given an iPad beforehand.

“Our study showed that child and parental anxiety before anesthesia are equally blunted by midazolam or use of the iPad,” Dr. Chassard said. “However, the quality of induction of anesthesia, as well as parental satisfaction, were judged better in the iPad group.”

For parents who use screen time as leverage to get their grumpy kids to do just about anything, these results may come as no surprise.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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