Scientists warn parents those children as young as two are developing mental health problems because of tablets and smartphones.
Children are more likely to be anxious or depressed with just an hour a day of staring at a screen. This can lower their self-control, make them less curious, less able to finish tasks, and less emotionally stable, according to the DailyMail.
Teenagers are most at risk from the damaging devices. However, children under the age of 10 and toddlers’ still-developing brains are also being affected.
Research revealed that “zombie” children spend nearly five hours every day gawping at electronic devices.
The time spent on smartphones is a serious yet avoidable cause of mental health issues, according to the researchers from San Diego State University and the University of Georgia.
Professors Jean Twenge and Keith Campbell say that:
“Half of mental health problems develop by adolescence. There is a need to identify factors linked to mental health issues that are [able to be changed] in this population, as most are difficult or impossible to influence. How children and adolescents spend their leisure time is [easier] to change.”
Parents, as well as teachers, must limit the amount of time spent by children online or watching television while they are eating, socializing, studying, or even playing a sport.
Professor Twenge, on her study, backs the American Academy of Pediatrics’ established screen time limit – one hour per day for children aged two to five. Furthermore, she suggests that a similar limit -perhaps two hours – should be applied to school-aged children and adolescents.
The researchers analyzed data from a health survey in 2016. It involves 400,000 U.S. children aged two to 17. The questionnaire asked the children about emotional development, medical care, behavioral issues and their daily screen time.
Adolescents are twice as likely to have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression if they spend more than seven hours a day on screens. A study found that there is a strong link between screen time and well-being among adolescents than young children.
Professor Twenge said:
“At first, I was surprised the associations were larger for adolescents. However, teens spend more time on their phones and on social media, and we know from other research that these activities are more strongly linked to low well-being than watching television and videos, which is most of younger children’s screen time.”
Moreover, it was revealed that moderate use of four hours is also associated with lower psychological well-being than one hour a day.
Pre-schoolers, or under-fives, who are high users are twice as likely to often lose their temper – and are 46% more prone to not be able to calm down when excited. Results also show that among 14 to 17-year-olds, more than four in ten (42.2 percent) of those in the study who spent more than seven hours a day on screens did not finish tasks. About one in eleven (9 percent) of 11 to 13-year-olds who spent an hour with screens daily were not curious or interested in learning new things.
The professors wrote in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports that they were interested in determining the links between screen time and diagnosis of anxiety and depression in youngsters since it has not yet been studied in great detail.
“Previous research on associations between screen time and psychological well being among children and adolescents has been conflicting, leading some researchers to question the limits on screen time suggested by physician organizations.”
It was estimated by the U.S. National Institute of Health that children that adolescents commonly have an average of 5 to 7 hours on screen during leisure time and its adverse effects on health has a growing evidence.
The World Health Organization included gaming disorder in the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases. A team of Oxford University, in December 2017, found that UK “zombie” children’s average daily screen time has leaped in a generation from under three hours to four hours and 45 minutes.
Addicted children are at high risk for obesity, sleeplessness, and falling victim to cyber-bullying while losing valuable social skills through a lack of face-to-face contact.