If you have children, there’s a big chance you’re allowing them to use a smartphone or a tablet. Most people think this is fine, but the technological advancement in the last few decades is doing just the opposite. Yeah, it’s easy to give your kind a tablet and just let them scroll through it so you have a nice quiet time, but would you do it if you know it’s harming their development?
Screen dependency disorder – is it real?
Unfortunately, it is. This term describes an addiction to screens, be it a tablet, smartphone or computer. Kids these days love spending their time on screens, and they’re certainly not better of it. Technology can help them develop, but it can also harm them as well. Studies have shown that screen dependency disorder can harm the development of the brain and is also known as internet addiction disorder, mobile phone dependence and social network site addiction.
According to Dr. Alec Sigman who has written on the disorder, the addiction is quickly becoming a great health concern and is quite problematic. Here are some of the symptoms of screen dependency disorder:
- Increasing tolerance
- Loss of interest in going outside
- Continuing the use of smartphone or tablet even when you tell them to stop
- Lying about the time spent on a smartphone
- Using the devices as a way of escaping reality
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Continuation of use even with all the negative consequences
How dangerous is it?
According to one study, screen dependency disorder is quite addictive and dangerous, and can be compared to drug addiction. Dr. George Lynn from Seattle says that 80% of his children patients are suffering from screen dependency disorder, which he related to behavioral problems. The constant use of screens, as he says, are changing the children’s personality and are harming our children.
Scientists have related this problem to headaches, migraines, anxiety, insomnia, weight gain, eyesight problems and loneliness, and those are just the short-term effects. Long-term screen dependency disorder is even worse, and can harm the fragile brain of a child. Some studies have shown that the brains of children can shrink when spending too much time in front of a screen, especially the areas such as the frontal lobe and insula that control empathy and are responsible for our ability to organize stuff. As some doctors say, our children are digital natives, but we should be cautious when letting them spend time on a smartphone or tablet.
Here are 5 tips that can help you prevent screen dependency disorder:
Children younger than 18 months
Aside from video chats, these children should not be allowed to spend time on a smartphone or tablet. If you do allow them some time, make sure to stay with them and keep it short.
Children aged between 2 and 5
An hour a day – that’s all children aged 2-5 are allowed to spend in front of a tablet or smartphone. You should also be right beside them during this time, in order to help them understand what they’re seeing.
Children aged 6 or more
Children over the age of 6 should be closely monitored when pending time on a smartphone or tablet. The time should be limited to no more than a maximum of an hour and a half.
No matter how old your child is, we suggest establishing some ground rules about screens. Make media-free zones in your home, and never give them a tablet or smartphone when travelling.
Finally, make sure to talk to your children about their online presence. They need to be able to respect other’s opinions just like in real life, or the consequences can cause problems in real life.