Screen dependency has been a global problem of late which not only affects the lives of children, but also the daily activities of adults, making it essential to restrict the screen time for children and the parents.
The American Academy of Paediatrics has recommended a maximum screen time of sixty minutes for children between 2 to 5 years of age. It has also urged parents to ensure that children below 2 years are not exposed to technology.
According to a recent study, it has been found that children who spend a lot of time on smartphone devices tend to be sleepy and less focussed. This has further led to an extended sleep-time during the day, resulting in a poor sleep cycle. The study also showed that every quarter hour spent on a smartphone device, resulted in the loss of an hour’s sleep. Another study found that the more time a child spent on a smart device, the longer it took for their speech to develop. Based on the findings, the excessive use of smartphone has been given the term ‘Screen Dependency Disorder’ and is closely associated with Internet Addiction Disorder.
Children who suffer from this disorder tend to experience a variety of symptoms like weight loss or gain, insomnia, headaches, poor nutrition, eyesight problems and poor nutrition. Additionally, they experience emotions such as anxiety, loneliness, guilt and dishonesty. There has also been a marked increase in self-isolation by those who suffer from this disorder. They also experience mood swings and agitation. This condition further causes withdrawal symptoms and one can notice the child’s lack of interest in outdoor activities. A comprehensive report on the child's behaviour should be shared with the paediatrician who will be able to suggest the best course of action for the child.
Since the effect of gadget addiction on the brain is similar to the effect of drug or alcohol addiction, the brain might develop certain structural differences. Children may develop a lack of impulse control, lack of skills to organise, plan or prioritise, and parts of the brain may also get affected, leading to low empathy or values.
Parents can keep in mind certain points before providing their child with a smart device:
- They can encourage children to keep the screen time minimal.
- They can develop a hobby that requires all the family members taking part, with minimal involvement of technology
- They can be around the children when they browse websites or watch videos.
Although technology offers numerous advantages, it is important to encourage the development of activities like reading a book, making crafts and painting to reduce the ill-effects of screen time.