Increasing numbers of young students are battling a digital addiction. Children are being exposed to electronics at younger and younger ages, spending hours a day staring at a glowing screen instead of engaging with their peers, working with physical tools, and even playing outside during recess–and many kids are suffering as a result. According to Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, digital addiction is as potent as heroin–and his article, Digital Heroin Addiction, goes into detail about the potential impact on kids.
The Consequences of Excessive Screen Time
The more time that children spend on their devices, from iPads to laptops and video games, the more it can impact their brains. This digital addiction is similar to heroin and cocaine addiction–and actually causes similar changes within the frontal cortex of the brain. Many children experience issues like:
- An increase in ADD and ADHD symptoms, including a nationwide increase of more than 50% over the last 10 years, as screens have become more common
- Violent behavior related to the loss of screen time, similar to an addict who has been denied their drug of choice
- Loss of interest in activities that previously held their attention, including refusal to participate in activities that were previously enjoyed
Many parents note serious changes in their children as technology use increases. The more time the kids spend with these games, glued to a glowing screen, the more severe the changes in their personalities and behaviors become. While some parents argue that “addiction” is a very strong word, others are finding that their children are trapped by this digital plague with what feels like no way out. When military programs are effectively using video games to help burn victims manage pain, it’s obvious that very real changes are taking place within the minds of those who spend time with screens on a regular basis–and parents are faced with the need to protect their children as a result.
Screens in Schools
According to Dr. Kardaras, one of the biggest problems faced by parents isn’t just the technology they allow into their homes. It’s the growing technology use in the classroom. Instead of allowing children to learn and grow within their environment, schools are encouraging most children to use devices at younger and younger ages. Even kindergarten students can expect to have computers and even tablets in the classroom, and older children may be encouraged to participate in coding activities or even allowed to play video games during recess time instead of heading outside with their peers.
Managing the Digital Addiction
If you’re struggling with how to control your child’s exposure to digital media, there are several steps you can take to step down the addiction and help your child have more normal brain development. These include:
- Encouraging activities that have nothing to do with screens, especially activities that your child shows an interest in
- Pursuing alternative educational methods that don’t use screens as often as traditional programs
- Taking your child to participate in fun activities outside of school
- Encouraging creative play
- Enforcing screen limits, especially at home, so that your child doesn’t spend too much time entranced by those glowing screens
- Looking for alternative ways to accomplish the same activities that are now accomplished with a computer, from heading to the library to check out a new book or two to exploring a museum or taking a walk at the park.
As a parent, it’s critical that you watch for signs of digital addiction in your children. These days parenting without screens entirely is not realistic, instead it makes much more sense to teach our children how to use technology responsibly. All it takes is time and a plan!
Start by working as family to give your entire family a healthy dose of time away from the screen and always remember it is crucial when giving your children access to the internet is us up to you to keep them safe from dangerous content and apps on their mobile devices. This means that us parents have a lot to consider because most parental control apps and “safe routers” are easy for children to circumvent. These days, it is critical to not be lax about what your children are doing on their mobile devices and it is crucial to be proactive.