Kids’ Screen Addiction: What Every Parent Should Know
Cyberwise recently reported key findings from recent studies regarding kids’ screen usage and addiction. While many parents worry their kids are on their phones too much, these findings confirm more serious risks. Studies prove that excessive screen time not only inhibits “in real life” social interactions for kids, but can also cause health risks to parts of the brain. It is more important than ever for parents take an active role to help manage their kids’ screen time for a healthier life balance.
Psychology Today’s “In Gray Matters: Too Much Screen Time Damages the Brain,” author Victoria L. Dunckley M.D. writes:
“In short, excessive screen-time appears to impair brain structure and function. Much of the damage occurs in the brain’s frontal lobe, which undergoes massive changes from puberty until the mid-twenties. Frontal lobe development, in turn, largely determines success in every area of life—from sense of well-being to academic or career success to relationship skills. Use this research to strengthen your own parental position on screen management, and to convince others to do the same.”
More Alarming Statistics Reported by CyberWise June 8, 2016
A couple notable studies regarding children and technology use were recently released. Both strongly suggest that when it comes to our kids and the time they spend engaging IRL (In Real Life) vs the time they spend gazing at screens…it’s the screens that are winning.
From Influence Central’s “Kids & Tech: The Evolution of Today’s Digital Natives” released in May we learned:
This last statistic bears repeating:
HALF of all teens surveyed admit to feeling addicted to their mobile devices.
Are we hearing this?
Even though concern over children’s tech “addiction” (not yet considered an official clinical diagnosis by the way) is topmost on the minds of most of the parents we talk to, societal pressures make it difficult for many parents to administer a “cure” or even instill preventative measures, despite all indications that kids could use their help.
Why Screens Are Winning
When teens say they feel addicted to their devices, they are right. Dopamine, the “feel-good chemical,” is released in the brain’s pleasure center when they’re playing online games or accruing social media “likes.” On a brain scan this look the same as though the owner were “eating chocolate or winning money,” rather than just checking an Instagram feed. Additionally, studies are show that even a “regular” amount of screen time may be creating subtle and disturbing changes to young brains.
So what can a busy parent do? Here are some ideas: