This is the age of higher technology. Cell phone and internet has made our life very simple. Sometimes it feels as if whole world is within our click. Internet has given us added advantage in every issue. But rampant use of cell phones and internet has several shortcomings. The children and adolescents have to suffer more.
If you are living in a city, just do a small experiment. Go out to a busy place and look around you. If you are living on earth, you will definitely see a child glued to the phone screen. We cant blame the children solely for this. The parents also find it easy to control their child if they are provided with a smart phone.
But unfortunately the brain doesn’t work as we wish. Children’s neurological development is influenced by what they do. Early experiences and the environments in which they live can alter gene expression and affect long-term neural development. Childhood is a time of significantly greater changes in brain anatomical structure and connectivity, its highly dependent on our environment .
What is screen dependency disorder
Screen dependency disorder is a modern age health challenge for both kids and parents. Excessive use of mobile phones and exposure to blue lights can impact your kid’s brain which can lead to a disorder called Screen Dependency Disorder (SDD). Impact of SDD are numerous for all kids. It’s otherwise called internet addiction disorder.
Symptoms of SDD
- Unable to reduce or stop screen activities
- Preoccupation: Preoccupation is a state of mind in which the child will think about the smartphone so much that he/she do not consider other things to be important
- Withdrawal symptoms when smartphone is taken away from them.
- Increasing tolerance
- Loss of interests in other games
- Continuation despite negative consequences
- Lying about extent of use
- Use to escape adverse moods, or individual has put at risk or lost relationships/life opportunities because of gaming.
Five of the above criteria must be met within 1 year to term it as screen dependency disorder.
Consequences of SDD
Several health related consequences are found in growing children. Both mental and physical health suffer due to excessive screen time. Heavy internet overuse, similar to substance abuse, may damage white matter microstructure of brain. It causes several damages to brain.
Research has shown that there are serious short-term and long-term risks associated with too much screen time.
- Delayed Learning and Development: High levels of screen time has an effect on delayed development in children. During the ages of 2 to 5-years old, a child’s brain develops at a rapid rate and excessive screen time can hinder a child’s ability to develop optimally. He/she lacks social interaction and play time.
- Health Risks: Some of the most common health risks include weakened vision, obesity, sleep problems, neck, and back pain along with behavior problems and violence which is often the result of exposure to violent shows and games.
- Mental health Risks: Children with excess screen time, face difficulty in real life situations. It leads to depression, anxiety, excessive stress etc.
How to prevent SDD
There are several guidelines for restrictions of screen time in children.
- For children younger than 18 months: Avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting.
- Children 18 to 24 months: If parents want, they may introduce digital media with high-quality programming and watch it with their children to help them understand what they’re seeing.
- For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with proper guidance.
- For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.
- Set ground rules early and enforce them by designating media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
- Stay in the conversation by having ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.
SDD is a preventable disease. Its not less than any other addiction. Don’t make your children addicted for your convenience. It’s a big challenge for us. But awareness and prevention can decrease the problem.
Please read and share
Sigman A. Screen dependency disorders: a new challenge for child neurology. Journal of the International Child Neurology Association. 2017 Apr 19.