Screen dependency and addiction in children : things every parent must know about it. PART 1
“My boy is barely two but he’s so good at using the iPad and phone! He can’t even talk or read but he knows how to get into YouTube and find his favourite song. How smart are kids these days!”
I can bet you have heard a similar conversation at least once by someone in the recent years.
Considering the current zeitgeist, we think it’s normal for babies and toddlers of this generation to behave this way and that it’s only best to ” embrace modernity” in this rapidly evolving world of digital technology instead of practicing our primary roles as parents and caregivers, which is to advance the “principle of precaution.”
Also, with so many “educational ” apps and channels available in the market, there’s a pressing concern as a parent that banning screentime for our babies may in some way deprive them educationally and result in them
being ‘left behind in the digital revolution’.
But the truth is contrary to this. If your toddler is a pro at swiping and operating that mobile screen, it’s not good news. You have a huge problem at hand and screen time addiction is definitely not something to be proud of.
Screen dependency disorder (SDD) is for real and is affecting our future generation in a not-so-good way.
Why do we give the screens to our babies?
Even though some of us already know about screen addiction and dependency and had vowed the day we became parents that our child is not going to be “one of them”, somewhere down the road things didn’t go as planned.
Even if we religiously say no to watching TV or using mobile phones in front of our children, they get to explore such gadgets through our friends or relatives, much to our dismay!
In cases where our children spend some part of the day with the caregivers, it becomes even more difficult as they might not follow the rules as strictly as we do.
As working parents, sometimes we are too exhausted to engage our children and succumb to using screens to keep them busy .
What is SDD and how is it affecting our children?
Screen Dependency Disorder or SDD, refers to screen-related “addictive” behaviour.
During the first three years of life, a newborns brain triples in it’s size and experiences during this time are what shape the adult brain.
Excessive use of screens can hurt our children in a number of ways
Isolation from others
Disturbed sleep pattern
Difficulty in communication and socialisation
Restricted brain development
Backaches/ neck pain
Weight loss or weight gain
One of SDD’s long term effects include brain damage. It is possible that intensive routine exposure to certain screen activities during critical stages of neural development may alter gene expression resulting in structural, synaptic and functional changes in the developing brain. Impulse control, ability to prioritize, plan and organise are also found to be affected significantly
Another alarming result is it is said to damage an area known as “insula,” in the brain, which develops empathy and compassion for others. Excessive screen-time also leads to inefficient information processing and poor task performance.
Read more about the effects of SDD in this article.
What are the recommended guidelines for screen time in children?
How can I ensure that my child doesn’t get addicted to it?
I will be answering these questions in my next blogpost.
Until then, take good care !!