When a child has surgery, their doctor will often give them a sedative to help calm their nerves beforehand. However, new research shows that a dose of screen time may be the safer, drug-free option. The research, presented at this year’s World Congress of Anesthesiologists (WCA) in Hong Kong shows that when children, ages 4-10 years, use iPads as a distraction tool before a surgery that normally requires general anesthesia, they become as calm and as anxiety-free as a child who was administered conventional sedatives. During the study, children were given either a sedative called midazolam or time on an iPad with an age-appropriate game. The results showed that anxiety levels of both kids and parents ended up at about the same level, showing that iPad games were as effective as drugs in calming families. While this won’t come as a huge shock to any parent with a child and iPad on hand, you have to wonder if the study is a perk for screen advocates. Yes, avoiding drugs before surgery is a plus, but the fact that kids are on iPads and other screens so often, coupled with the fact that iPads are now a proven sedative, begs the question of how often this technology should be handed over to children. Kids are being raised in a digital age, thus lulled into sedation everywhere, everyday and that can’t be a good thing. To learn more about the dangers of screen time overuse, read: The many downfalls of kids’ addiction to tech: why limiting screen time will benefit your child.

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+ iPads as effective as sedatives for children before operations

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