Screen Dependency Disorder: The Effects of ‘Screen Time’ Addiction

Take a minute to look around the next time you leave your house and venture off into a public place. You can almost see children wherein their eyes were all glued to a screen as big as her or his face.

Technological advancements in the 21st century make parents realize that they could handle their children’s boredom or temper tantrums through the use of tablet and smartphones.

Conversely, this scenario creates behavioral and mental health problems in young kids – some of them break things, some cries, and some even threaten suicide.

Excessive Screen Time Explained

Because of extensive exposure to this thing called “screen time,” kids playing video games or using smartphone apps are exhibiting addictive behavior.

Children’s brains are vulnerable to significant changes in structure and connectivity which could affect their neural development and in the long run, could lead to screen dependency disorder.

Other classifications of screen dependency disorder are:

  1. Internet addiction disorders
  2. Internet gaming disorder
  3. Mobile phone dependence
  4. Video game addiction
  5. Facebook addiction
  6. Problematic internet use
  7. Compulsive internet use
  8. Online game addiction
  9. Social network site addiction
  10. Pathological video game use
  11. Pathological technology use

A psychologist named Dr. Aric Sigman’s says that:

“Addiction is a term increasingly used to describe the growing number of children engaging in a variety of different screen activities in a dependent, problematic manner.”

Major Symptoms of Screen Dependency Disorder

  1. Loss of outside interests
  2. Preoccupation
  3. Failure to reduce or stop screen activities
  4. Withdrawal symptoms
  5. Increasing tolerance
  6. Lying about the extent of use
  7. Use to escape adverse moods
  8. Continuation despite negative consequences

According to a 2015 research study, playing video games, though it does not involve any chemical substances or intoxication, could lead to addiction-like symptoms including the ones listed above.

Dr. George Lynn, a Seattle-based psychotherapist, says that:

“I am witnessing a personality syndrome that comes from basically unbridled, uncontrolled use of recreational use of screen media during the day and at night.”

Almost 80% of Dr. Lynn’s patients have issues related to watching too many online videos, excessive using of social media, and too much gaming.

He further added :

“Most doctors, family doctors, even psychiatric practitioners are not hip to the obvious fact that a kid might be only getting two to three hours of sleep at night and that causes personality problems.”

Effects Of Too Much Screen Time To Your Kids

Child’s screen dependency disorder may lead to back pain, weight gain or loss, insomnia, vision problems, anxiety, loneliness, dishonesty, headaches, and feelings of guilt.

Its long-term effect could result in brain damage. Multiple studies have proven that screen dependency disorder could lead to the shrinking of the brain or losing of tissue in the frontal lobe, insula, and striatum – these are the areas that help in governing planning and organization and developing compassion and empathy;

Claudette Avelino-Tandoc, a Family Life and Child Development Specialist and Early Childhood Education consultant say that:

“Parents are dealing with 21st century learners, what we call ‘digital natives.’ They should allow their kids to manipulate these tools. However, balance is the keyword.”

Tips for Parents with Children Who Have a Screen Dependency Disorder

1. For children younger than 18 months

Children between 18 to 24 months should only be allowed video-chatting. However, if parents really want to introduce digital media to them, they should choose high-quality programming and watch it with their children.

2. For children ages 2 to 5 years

Parents should limit screen use to 1 hour per day. They should also co-view with their children to make them understand what they are seeing.

3. For children ages 6 and older

Have consistent limits on the time spent on using tablets and smartphones. See to it that your child is having adequate physical activity, sleep and other behaviors that play an important part in their overall health

4. Stay in the conversation

Have some ongoing communication about topics that might interest your children.

5. Set ground rules early and enforce them

Set media-free times together, such as driving or dinner, as well as media-free locations at home, like bedrooms.