Effects of Screen Addiction On Children
There is no difference between 'serious' drugs and 'recreational' drugs. Whether you use tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, or smartphone, any form of addiction is harmful to your health, your relationships, and the value purpose of your life. In the age of information and digital transformation, when all the encyclopaedias of the world rest inside your pockets, it has become extremely important for responsible parents to stay aware of the most socially acceptable drug in the market: the digital drug.
What Makes Digital A Drug
Like any form of drug addiction, screen addiction has a set of easily identifiable symptoms. What happens is that screen use releases dopamine in your brain, just like cocaine. The same reward cycle impacts your brain when using cocaine or marijuana. You may feel good initially, but you will end up needing more of it to get the same high you got the first time. Studies have proven that screen time affects the frontal cortex of the brain. Cocaine addiction affects the frontal cortex of the brain. Prolonged use of a smartphone, tablet, watching TV, video games, scrolling through social media – all these can negatively affect your impulse control, acting as a digital drug for your brain.
Why Screen Addiction Is Socially Acceptable
Alcohol is socially acceptable. Does that mean that alcohol is not harmful? In the last two decades, we have seen an explosion in the use of digital technology. Human exposure to prolonged screen time is accelerating at an unprecedented pace, which has become a growing concern. Recently, during the global COVID-19 lockdown, the digital medium became the only option to stay connected with society. Homes turned into workspaces, tablets and smartphones became classrooms, and all hell broke loose. Parents are now complaining of such negative behaviours that they never witnessed in their children before the lockdowns began. By giving in to the demands of their children, they also act as co-dependents. As a result of all these factors, screen time among kids and teenagers has drastically increased in the last couple of years.
What Parents Should Do
Every home needs to have a set of boundaries for technology use. No excuse is big enough to let your child cross those boundaries, whether it is your job, your hectic schedule, or whatsoever. By justifying excessive screen use, you support their addiction which may turn into serious drugs sooner or later. Immediate changes suggested by our experts include:
Create a structure in the house. Make rules around technology use before handing over the device.
There should be clear and cut restrictions around downloading apps without prior approval from parents.
At all costs, keep your screens away from meals and bedrooms.
Limit not just the child but also the adults. The whole family needs to limit technology use. Keep in check the time and place where technology interferes with your family life.
Have detox days once in a while, with zero screen use. Did life not exist before the advent of technology? It certainly did.
Dock all your devices in a basket away from your bedroom at night.
DO NOT let video games replace playground activity and outdoor sports.
No Free Meals: Let the child earn his screen time after successfully completing homework, outdoor sports, and having healthy meals.
Monitor your child's screen activity regularly, and let them know they're under surveillance.
Encourage social interactions and emotional connections in physical settings including family, friends, and the neighbourhood.
Introduce kids to science activities or digital technologies that don’t involve screens, but still tap into their creative thinking skills, such as drones, telescopes, machine learning, computer programming, puzzles, and more.
This blog post is written by a recovering addict who found his wings in the hands of 'Shafa'.
Shafa Home is India's largest & oldest rehabilitation centre for correction, detoxification and treatment of alcohol and drug related problems. To see us in action, Please Visit our YouTube Channel.