Studies have shown that excessive screen time use can lead to depression, poor sleeping habits, obesity and can negatively impact a child’s ability to communicate, socialize, and focus in school.
DEFINITION AND SYMPTOMS OF SCREEN TIME ADDICTION.
Screen time addiction is defined as the excessive or compulsive use of electronic devices such as smartphones, televisions, tablets, and computers, which can negatively impact a person's daily life.
Some common signs of screen time addiction include the following:
STUDIES ON SCREEN TIME ADDICTION.
Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, a therapist and author of “Glow kids:How screen addiction is hijacking our kids and how to break the trance“, states that many adults and children today, who are hooked to smart devices are suffering a real addiction.
He compares this screen-time addiction to that of a chemical substance addiction like heroin.
Many studies suggest that screen time addiction may be linked to a release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward, in the brain when using electronic devices.
A 2015 Pew Research Center study of millennial communication habits found that text messaging has significantly increased over the previous ten years and that many teenage texters exhibit addict-like symptoms and behaviors like:
The study was published in the American Psychological Association journal, Psychology of Popular Media.
The excessive use of electronic devices can have a significant impact on children and can lead to a variety of negative consequences such as physical, mental and social problems.
Below is more detailed information on each problem:
Physically, prolonged screen time can lead to eye strain, headaches, poor posture and even a lack of physical activity, which can lead to obesity and other health problems.
Mentally, it can lead to addiction, depression, and anxiety. It can also negatively impact sleep patterns, leading to insomnia and fatigue.
Socially, excessive screen time can lead to isolation and a lack of communication with friends and family. It can also negatively affect relationships, leading to conflicts and distance.
Furthermore, addiction to screens can also have negative effects on academic or professional performance.
PREVENTION AND MANAGEMENT OF SCREEN TIME ADDICTION.
It’s important to set healthy screen time boundaries and guidelines for our children to follow.
By setting boundaries and guidelines, you can help your child develop healthy screen time habits and teach them how to balance their time spent on screens with other activities.
Additionally, it's important to encourage other activities for your kids, such as reading, playing outside, sports and spending time with family and friends.
Below are three helpful tips that parents can use to assist them in setting up guidelines and limits on the amount of time their children can spend on their devices:
1. Establish a schedule for when smart devices can be used. This can include specific times of the day or certain days of the week when smart devices are off-limits. Once the schedule is set up, it’s extremely important for the parent to stick to the set schedule.
2. Utilize the parental controls on smart devices to help enforce these boundaries. These parental controls are great tools that allow parents to set up time limits, block certain apps and websites, and monitor their children's online activity. If you’re not sure how to use these parental controls on your kids smart devices, YouTube is a great place to get help.
3. Give your child a starter phone that only allows them to text and call. A starter phone will help your child take their first step into the world of technology and help them learn the ropes of handling advanced technology while building maturity, responsibility, and experience.
A company by the name of Gabb Wireless is leading the way in helping parents keep their children safe in this high tech, digital world.
Their smart phones, specifically designed for kids, provide a range of parental controls and features to help protect kids from the dangers of screen time addiction, cyber bullying and online predators.
Once the child has shown signs of maturity, responsibility, and experience, parents can then upgrade their starter phone to the other more popular smart phone brands.
While technology can have negative affects on children, it can also have positive affects when used in moderation and with guidance.
To prevent and manage screen time addiction, it's important to set healthy boundaries and guidelines for children to follow such as establishing schedules, using parental controls, and giving them a starter phone.
And finally, as a parent, it's also important to lead by example, so make sure to set your own boundaries for screen time use.