What is a dementor

Smartphones and the dementors

The many screen devices that we and our children use today empty our heads, take up time and, in the worst case, leave empty shells - similar to what the dementors do in "Harry Potter", says pediatrician Stephan Nolte - and gives recommendations on media consumption Children.

Twenty years ago, particularly dangerous magical beings of evil appeared in the third volume of "Harry Potter" ("The Prisoner of Azkaban"): the dementors. They awaken bad memories in their victims and suck out happiness and all mental sensations. Your worst weapon is the "Dementor's Kiss". The soul is sucked out of the victims and they have to eke out their further existence as an empty shell. The only way to defend yourself against them is through a spell: the difficult to perform Patronus spell. It consists in thinking of something else, something beautiful, which is of course almost impossible in the fight with the Dementor, and at the same time uttering the magic formula Expecto Patronum (German: "I wait for the patron saint"). Therefore, the magic is not very successful in everyday life.

For me, the many electronic devices that we and our children use today are also a kind of dementor: They empty our heads, rob us of our time and in the end, with Internet addiction, many people eke out their existence as empty Shell, as a nerd who is stuck in front of the screen without any social connections. When the Dementors were described twenty years ago, there was no way of knowing how much this principle - sucking the thoughts out of your head - would become reality.

It all starts so harmlessly, just like with the dementors: First they cloud us, then they evoke bad thoughts, for example from monsters, evildoers or atrocities, until they finally gain the upper hand and we are socially, emotionally and physically in front of the screen let it wither away. But we too have the Patronus magic and can use it, even if it is difficult: turning towards something beautiful, shared, towards real real people with real real feelings.

There are many educated recommendations about media consumption among children. Babies and toddlers should better not use any screen media at all. The smartphone holder on the Maxi-Cozy is a no-go. And even after that, the media should be used moderately. It is not possible to measure the quality of media use or abuse in pure screen time. Therefore, only age-related indicators can be recommended.

From the age of 4 to 6 months, it primarily makes sense to first look at picture books and read them aloud on a regular basis. Screen time does not make sense up to an age of around 3 years, unless you are looking at photos or very well selected short videos or programs together.

Under no circumstances should the toddler be immobilized with the television, even if he is staring at the screen with great fascination. Until the start of school, the commonality of media use remains the most important thing. The usage time is of course dependent on the content, but should not exceed an hour. TV and radio shouldn't be dumbling in the background all day.

It is very likely, if not conclusively demonstrable, that the increasing attention and concentration disorders of school children are related to media use. The growing addiction to computer games has already been included as a medical diagnosis in the International Diagnosis Catalog DSM 5 under the name Internet Gaming Disorder and already affects almost 5% of male adolescents, while adolescent girls are increasingly becoming addicted to social networking. Stephan H. Nolte,
Marburg / Lahn




Dr. med. Stephan Heinrich Nolte has been a pediatrician in Marburg for over 25 years, is a lecturer at the University of Marburg, a specialist journalist and book author. He has 5 children and 9 grandchildren.


Published in: Kinderärztliche Praxis, 2019; 90 (3) page 152