As electronic devices become a bigger part of our everyday lives, the effects of screen addiction in children are fast becoming recognised as a real and serious problem.
Children and teenagers now spend more than 8-11 hours per day interacting with games, computers and television screens, according to a study by the American Academy of paediatrics.
This can sometimes be worsened by parents who fail to regulate the amount of time their children spend on devices, as they are often distracted by mobiles and laptops themselves.
Mobiles, gaming and television are often seen as the easiest way to keep children occupied and quiet by carers but it can hinder their desire to learn.
By distracting children rather than interacting with them, they can miss out on the curiosities and questions that everyday life sends their way.
Children who are given the opportunity to ask questions are far more likely to grow up to be well-rounded adults.
The ‘Real’ Problem
Screen and gaming addiction in children is still not considered by many to be a ‘real’ problem, meaning that many parents and caregivers are simply unaware of the issues that can develop from prolonged exposure to electronic screens.
The American Paediatric Society suggests that electronics should be completely avoided during the first two years of a child’s life. They argue that this is because the brain develops very rapidly during this stage and screen interaction could hinder essential development.
To put it simply, children are best interacting with other people and the outside world for optimum social development.
Limiting your child’s device time to one or two hours per day is believed to be the best way to reduce screen addiction.
Too much time online, on their phone or on computer games can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression and isolation. Immunity to violent behaviour and an increase in violence towards others has also been observed in children who spend a significant amount of time playing violent games.
Therefore, it is suggested that a reduction in play may help to better develop a child’s ability to empathise. Alongside the violence, it has been noted that lack of sleep due to device overuse can lead to irritability, low concentration levels and a decline in grades at school.
This over-usage can also infringe on precious time that should be spent studying if it is not regulated properly.
Effects in Adulthood
The effects of screen addiction in children can also have a profound impact in adult life if not regulated properly from a young age.
Teaching your children to interact with things other than electronics whilst they are young, will help them to develop all of the key skills they need in life.
Adults who have missed out on these essential developmental stages early on, often find it difficult to interact with others and the world around them.
Not only are social skills affected by overuse but some children also face physical problems such as cramped hands, wrists and severe back pain, many of which can be incredibly long-term.
All addiction should be taken seriously and understanding and stopping the effects of screen addiction in children early is imperative for the best start in life.