Back to school
Start the year with a rested and clear mind.

Do you want to send your child off to school with improved focus and more compliant behavior? Here's how an electronic fast can help send your child to the head of the class:

We often hear about natural approaches to improve brain power in children: playing outdoors, eating whole foods, avoiding chemicals often found in plastics and self-care products, improving air quality, removing additives and dyes from the diet, and so on. 

But what about the electromagnetic environment that we exist in?  Does it not make sense for that to be natural as well? After all, we are all electromagnetic beings, and the brain has electrical (think brain waves generated by brain areas) as well as chemical-electrical properties (think signal transduction from one cell to another, and cell membrane channels)—not to mention other electromagnetic relationships to other organs (for example, to the heart). It is simple physics to assume that electromagnetic fields interact with one another.   

Most children have about a week or so before school starts.  Although I typically recommend at least  three weeks to do an electronic fast, most parents start noticing a difference within several days. Starting now and then continuing with it into the first couple weeks of school will both boost brain power and set the tone for moderating screentime after the fast.   

What does an electronic fast consist of?  I typically advise parents remove all interactive screen devices: smartphones, iPads, laptops/desktops, video games, tablets, etc.  If it has a screen, remove it.  Make sure you remove iPods or other music players that have screens, since removing these are frequently overlooked.  I typically allow a little television if it’s non-animated, non-violent, not watched on laptop or other mobile device, and the content is not too stimulating (think Nature Channel or older movies). However if your child has ADHD, autism or struggles with learning disabilities, I’d lose the TV too—a recent study demonstrated that television viewing was correlated with poor vocabulary and math scores, and television’s adverse effects on attention are already well-substantiated.

Why is the fast worth doing, you ask? An electronic fast can:

  • Reset circadian rhythms. Removing unnaturally bright screens allows the body clock to reconnect with natural light-dark cycles. Many bodily and cellular functions are dependent on having coherent rhythms, and out-of-sync rhythms are associated with a myriad of health problems. 
  • Allow for deep rest. Healthy sleep patterns and deep sleep in particular are dependent on normalized circadian cycles and adequate melatonin (sleep-signal) secretion, which is suppressed by both screens and manmade EMFs.   Deep sleep is essential for critical thinking, focus, memory and mood, and not getting enough of it makes a child “wired and tired.”
  • Rebalance brain chemistry.  Multiple studies have shown that screen exposure, especially in video games, releases dopamine and activates addiction pathways. Furthermore, since melatonin converts to serotonin, its depletion could theoretically affect serotonin levels.  Serotonin is necessary for calmness, a sense of well-being, and bonding.  
  • Improve blood flow to the frontal lobe.  Critical thinking, creative activities and sports improve frontal lobe blood flow, while screen activities tend to localize blood flow to the more primitive areas of the brain.  This is bad enough for adults, but for children these shifts can be devastating over time and may impact development permanently.
  • Reduce stress hormones.  Screen activities are associated with the stress response.  This means fight-or-flight hormones are released in the short term, and cortisol is increased over time.  Both of these hormonal trends are linked to cognitive, mood and behavioral issues as well as poor physical health.
  • Reduce overstimulation. The brain is not meant to be bombarded with unnatural visual stimulation (overly bright and intense colors, rapidly shifting scenes, excessive movement, plus the brightness of the screen itself) nor is it meant to process unnatural EMFs.  
  • Normalize the biofield.  The biofield is the body’s natural electromagnetic field and is reflective of many levels, from brainwaves and heart rhythms, to nerve impulses and cellular membrane channels, to DNA vibrations and the aforementioned heart-brain connection. This is a relatively new and exciting area and what we learn about the biofield will undoubtedly prove useful in terms of protecting against EMFs. In the meantime, the best way to protect the body’s biofield is to minimize exposure to electronics, especially those with screens.  (Screens compound exposure because our eyes connect directly to the brain.)

Once you’ve completed three weeks of the electronic fast, you can try reintroducing screens but keep it very limited.  (It’s a lot easier to limit them strictly after the child has had them removed completely!) Run a tight ship. If you see distractibility or irritability in your child emerging, don’t be shy about pulling electronics again. These symptoms are the body’s way of communicating that the brain can’t handle the load, and should be "listened" to. 

For more information on how to implement the electronic fast, visit drdunckley.com/videogames and resetyourchildsbrain.com.

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