Is “Screen Time” Dangerous for Children?
By Alison Gopnik ∷温纯选注
I was in the garden with Augie, my four-year-old grandson, watching the bees in the lavender1. “Bees make honey,” I said, transmitting the wisdom of the ages in good grandmotherlyfashion.2 After a pause, Augie replied, “How do they make the honey?” There is nothing like a child’s question for exposing3 the limits of a grandmother’s wisdom.
“Actually, Augie, I don’t know,” I said.
“But, Grandmom, you have your phone,” he said. For Augie,a smartphone is as natural and unremarkable as the bees and the lavender, and holding one is almost synonymous with knowing.4
I Googled “How do bees make honey?” There were dozens of videos explaining it. As we stood in the garden, shielding the screen against the sunlight, Augie and I learned that worker bees secrete an enzyme called invertase, which converts nectar into dextrose, then flap their wings to thicken the nectar into honey.5
“It’s kind of hard to see the bees,” I said, squinting6 at the screen.
“Why don’t we watch it on the big computer?” Augie said.
4.对于奥吉来说，智能手机就和蜜蜂、薰衣草一样自然平常，而且拥有一部手机就意味着无所不知。 unremarkable:平凡的，平常的； synonymous:与……同义的。
5.我们站在花园里，用手挡住射在屏幕上的阳光，从手机里了解到，工蜂分泌出转化酶，这种转化酶把花蜜变成葡萄糖，然后它们扇动翅膀使花蜜变得浓稠，从而形成蜂蜜。 shield:遮挡； secrete:分泌； enzyme:酶； invertase:转化酶，蔗糖酶； convert:转化，改变； nectar:花蜜； dextrose:葡萄糖； fap:拍动，振翅。
For the next hour, we sat inside, bee-surfng.7 Someone in Sweden had posted a speeded-up video of bees building a hive, months of construction compressed into twominutes.8 There was a whole subgenre of beekeeper selfevideos.9 Best of all was a BBC documentary about the “waggle dance,” the remarkable communication system that allows bees to give one another directions to the places where they’ve found nectar.10
My own childhood was dominated by a powerful device that used an optical interface to transport the user to an alternate reality.11 I spent most of my waking hours in its grip, oblivious of the world around me.12 The device was, of course, the book. Over time, reading hijacked my brain, as large areas once dedicated to processing the “real” world adapted to processing the printed word.13 As far as I can tell, this early immersion didn’t hamper my development, but it did leave me with some illusions14—my idea of romantic love surely came from novels.
English children’s books, in particular, are full oftantalizing15 food descriptions. At some point in my childhood, I must have read about a honeycomb16 tea. Augie, enchanted17, agreed to accompany me to the grocery store. We returned with a jar of honeycomb, only to find that it was an inedible, waxy mess.18
8. speeded-up video:快进视频； hive:蜂巢，蜂箱； compress:压缩，精简。
9. subgenre:亚类，子类型； selfie:自拍。
10.最好的视频是英国广播公司制作的一个关于“蜜蜂摇摆舞”的纪录片，摇摆舞是一种奇特的交流方法，帮助蜜蜂彼此间传达蜜源的所在。 waggle dance:（蜜蜂以此指明蜜源地点的）摇摆舞。
11.在我童年时期，流行一种通过视觉界面令人置身于另一个现实世界的工具。 optical:视觉的，眼睛的； interface:界面； alternate:交替的。
12. in one’s grip:在……的掌握或控制之中；oblivious:忘却的，不注意的。
14. immersion:沉浸，沉醉； hamper:妨碍，限制； illusion:幻想，想象。
18.我们买回来一罐蜂巢，结果却发现是不能吃的、像蜡似的东西。 inedible:不能吃的； waxy:蜡质的，似蜡的。
Many parents worry that “screen time” will impair19children’s development, but recent research suggests that most of the common fears about children and screens are unfounded.(There is one exception: looking at screens that emit20 blue light before bed really does disrupt sleep, in people of all ages.)The American Academy of Pediatrics21 used to recommend strict restrictions on screen exposure. In 2015, the organization examined the relevant science more thoroughly, and, as a result, changed its recommendations. The new guidelines emphasize that what matters is content and context, what children watch and with whom. Each child, after all, will have some hundred thousand hours of conscious experience before turning 16. Those hours can be like the marvellous ones that Augie and I spent together bee-watching, or they can be violent or mindless22—and that’s true whether those hours are occupied by apps or TV or books or just by talk.
New tools have always led to panicky speculation.23 Socrates thought that reading and writing would have disastrous effects on memory; the novel, the telegraph, the telephone, and the television were all declared to be the End of Civilization as We Know It, particularly in the hands of the young.24 Part of the reason may be that adult brains require a lot of focus and effort to learn something new, while children’s brains are designed to master new environments spontaneously.25Innovative technologies always seem distracting and disturbing to the adults attempting to master them, and transparent andobvious26—not really technology at all—to those, like Augie, who encounter them as children.
Like the bees, we live by the reports of others. Unlike the bees, we can invent new worlds, constructing them out of sonic vibrations, ink, or pixels.27 Sometimes those worlds deceive and confuse; at other times, they tell us something revelatory28. When Augie’s father got home, Augie rushed to meet him, his wordstumbling29 out in excitement. “Daddy, Daddy, look,” he said, reaching for the phone. “Do you know how bees make honey? I’ll show you...” ※
21. American Academy of Pediatrics: 美国儿科学会。
22. marvellous:绝妙的，极好的； mindless:不动脑子的，不用心的。
23. panicky:恐慌的，紧张不安的； speculation:猜测。
24.苏格拉底认为读书和写作会对人的记忆力产生灾难性的影响；小说、电报、电话和电视都曾被称作“正如我们所知”的“文明的终结者”，特别是当它们落在年轻人手里的时候。 Socrates:苏格拉底（ 469BC— 399BC），古希腊哲学家，认为哲学在于认识自我； the End of Civilization as We Know It:该句出自1977年的美国电影The Strange Case of the End of Civilization as We Know It（《我们所知道的文明终结的奇案》）。
26. distracting:使人分心的； transparent:浅显易懂的，一目了然的。
27.和蜜蜂不同的是，我们可以用声波振动、墨水和像素创造出新的世界。 sonic:音波的，声音的； vibration:振动，摆动； pixel:（显示器或电视机图像的）像素。