Getting your Child / Children addicted to Digital Devices! (Part 1)

No parent hands over a packet of an illicit, addictive drug such as marijuana, heroine or cocaine to their child and encourages them to use it! Yet, there is something almost as dangerous happening when parents buy digital devices (smartphones, tablets, hand held video games), for their children. Surely, the intention is not to harm but to have the child use the device for education or entertainment, (or to keep them quiet or because their peers have it and one doesn’t want to be seen as less of a parent…).

Yet, it very quickly becomes an addiction – a digital addiction – and research is now pointing to the dangerous impact of these devices on the young person’s physical and psychological development. Research shows that an average adult spends about 12.5 hours a day on a screen-based device. I guess that the number for adolescents and younger children is NOT dramatically less. The industry involved in the gamification of entertainment and education (not to mention the hardware manufacturers of these devices) would have one believe that such hardware and software is great for a child’s development, and a necessary part of success in the 21st century. Yet, no one talks about the challenges digital addiction is causing amongst children and teenagers (and even adults!).

Gaming technologies (both hardware and software) are specifically being developed to make the experience completely immersive and therefore isolative. So, children are getting hooked on to an artificial reality that is hugely distorted (have you seen the graphics recently?). These devices encourage users to become more and more socially isolated. Therefore, children are finding it increasingly difficult to play with other children in physical games or sports, or interact with parents and other adults in the family. They’d rather be caught up in their device. (Check out the family at the next table when you dine out next. Or, your own table!)

Children get exposed to higher and higher levels of stimulation in these video games, which leads to physiological stimulation of the endocrine system that creates a desire for more. In effect, they are getting ‘hooked’ in similar ways to how one gets hooked on a drug.

(Continued with Part 2 next week…)

(Continued in Part 2 next week…)

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