Is tech addiction a thing? Some experts say yes, and they say excessive use of technology can affect the brain the same way drugs do.
Dr. Nicholas Kardaras is the executive director of the Dunes in East Hampton, NY, one of the country’s progressive rehab clinics. He’s been studying the how technology affects children and says too much can turn children into digital junkies.
“Kids are getting hyper-stimulated by this. I call it a digital drug because it is like a stimulant. And there is research that shows it affects the brain…exactly the same way cocaine does,” Dr. Kardaras says.
He says there are cases of matricide and patricide because of video games.
“When you take away a drug addicts’ drugs, they become violent and we’re starting to see those kinds of behaviors,” he says.
Dr. Kardaras says for guys, the cases are usually with video games, especially immersive, first-person games. He’s seen an extreme case of full-blown video game psychosis in one of his patients.
“He had been playing World of Warcraft for 12 hours a day. He didn’t know what was real and what wasn’t,” he says.
Kardaras adds excessive use can lead to ADHD, depression, anxiety, and psychotic disorders.
So how can you as a parent moderate this? Carolyn Cunningham is just one of those parents figuring out the balance.
“It’s a constant struggle,” she says. “I think especially with video games.”
Her kids, Scarlett and Jack, do listen to her when she asks them to stop. That’s because they’ve talked together and worked out rules surrounding technology. Cunningham’s told them about how too much screen time isn’t good, which is something her children understand.
They’re not allowed to use screens on weekdays, and are only allowed a limited amount on time on Friday nights and the weekend. The kids don’t mind. After all they love their board games and playing soccer. Cunningham just wants them to learn life skills and she says they can through technology if used right.
“These are 21st century skills that kids need to learn so they can be computer programmers, or solve complex problems,” Cunningham says.
The American Academy of Pediatrics just released updated guidelines:
If your child is younger than 18 months, avoid screen use.
If your child is between 2 and 5 years old, one hour a day is okay.
If they’re older than that, then it’s up to you as a parent to decide what’s appropriate.
For more information: https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/pages/media-and-children.aspx