IN SCHOOL

Screen addiction taking a toll on Children

Game maniaPhoto: AP

Game maniaPhoto: AP  

Heavy use of electronic media can have significant negative effects on children’s behaviour, health and school performance: study

Excessive use of computer games among young people in China appears to be taking an alarming turn and may have particular relevance tochildren all over the world who spend many hours a day focused on electronic screens. Screen addiction has tragic effects on teenagers who become hooked on video games, playing for dozens of hours at a time often without breaks to eat, sleep or even use the bathroom. Many come to view the real world as fake.

Chinese doctors consider this phenomenon a clinical disorder and have established rehabilitation centres where afflicted youngsters are confined for months of sometimes draconian therapy, completely isolated from all media, the effectiveness of which remains to be demonstrated.

There’s no question that youths are plugged in and tuned out of “live” action for many more hours of the day than experts consider healthy for normal development. And it starts early, often with preverbal toddlers are handed their parents’ cellphones and tablets to entertain themselves when they should be observing the world around them and interacting with their caregivers.

In its 2013 policy statement on “Children, Adolescents, and the Media,” the American Academy of Pediatrics cited these shocking statistics from a Kaiser Family Foundation study in 2010: “The average 8- to 10-year-old spends nearly eight hours a day with a variety of different media, and older children and teenagers spend more than 11 hours per day.” Television, long a popular “babysitter,” remains the dominant medium, but computers, tablets and cellphones are gradually taking over.

Before age 2, children should not be exposed to any electronic media, the paediatrics academy maintains, because “a child’s brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens.”

Older children and teenagers should spend no more than one or two hours a day with entertainment media, preferably with high-quality content, and spend more free time playing outdoors, reading, doing hobbies and “using their imaginations in free play,” the academy recommends.

Effects

Heavy use of electronic media can have significant negative effects on children’s behaviour, health and school performance. Those who watch a lot of simulated violence, common in many popular video games, can become immune to it, more inclined to act violently themselves and less likely to behave empathetically, said Dimitri A. Christakis of the Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

Teenagers who spend a lot of time playing violent video games or watching violent shows on television have been found to be more aggressive and more likely to fight with their peers and argue with their teachers, according to a study in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

Schoolwork can suffer when media time infringes on reading and studying. And the sedentary nature of most electronic involvement - along with televised ads for high-calorie fare - can foster the unhealthy weights already epidemic among the nation’s youth.— New York Times News Service



Five important impacts of screen addiction

Teenagers who spend a lot of time playing violent video games or watching violent shows on television have been found to be more aggressive and more likely to fight with their peers and argue with their teachers, according to a study.

Schoolwork can suffer when media time infringes on reading and studying. And the sedentary nature of most electronic involvement - along with televised ads for high-calorie fare - can foster the unhealthy weights.

Children who are heavy users of electronics may become adept at multitasking, but they can lose the ability to focus on what is most important, a trait critical to the deep thought and problem solving needed for many jobs and other endeavours later in life.

As children have more of their communication through electronic media, and less of it face to face, they begin to feel more lonely and depressed.

Children can develop pain in their fingers and wrists, narrowed blood vessels in their eyes, and neck and back pain from being slumped over their phones, tablets and computers.




Older children and teenagers should spend no more than one or two hours a day with entertainment media, preferably with high-quality content, and spend more free time playing outdoors, reading, doing hobbies



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