As promised here is some of the Glow Kids data by Nicholas Kadaras.
Screen addiction is associated with anxiety, depression, psychosis, aggression, and other addictions. This is because when these kids use screens they “literally get high.” Their brain dumps dopamine on the same reward pathway that street drugs use.
Dopamine Dump levels:
- Food 50%
- Sex 100%
- Video game 100% (VG from the 90s- todays are worse)
- Cocaine 350%
Video games are this addicting because the gaming companies have beta testing procedures to ensure they will be addicting. When testing the game they hook up the testers to machines so Doctors can test their blood pressure and cortisol levels. If their levels do not reach 180 BP in 3 minutes they game is sent back to be made “better.”
Screen sue contributes to what is called “the dysregulation effect.” Basically children remain in fight or flight mode. This involves being unable to calm down, ADHD increases, aggression, conduct disorders, and sleep disturbances.
These video games are so stimulating that when one study compare military burn victims given morphine to regulate their pain with burn victims with no morphine only playing a video game, those with morphine at the highest safe levels still experienced pain while those playing the game didn’t!
Another study compared the brains of children who used screens for 10 hours a week to those who didn’t use any screens. They found that after one week the gamers has less grey matter (the thinking-human art of the brain), a shrunken frontal lobe (the decision-making part) and almost no activation of the frontal lobe compared to non-gamers. Their symptoms after one week included impulsivity increases, mood swings, sensory overload, and dysregulated sleep.
A study of children diagnosed with ADHD, Autism, and Mood disorders had the children abstain from screen use for 4 weeks. after 4 weeks 70% of those children no longer qualified for their diagnosis.
Similarly, it was found that 2 hours of screen use a day or more came with a doubled difficulty in concentrating. Every hour of tv before age 3 was associated with a 10% increased risk for ADHD. Children who experience these deficits can work to improve them, but they will never reach the same levels as their non-screen using counterparts.
Social media use in particular is associated with anxiety and depression. Humans, as social beings, need social interaction the same way they need food. Research found that interaction with people through social media did not fulfill this need. It was the equivalent of sitting at a table with food, but not eating when you are hungry.
One of the biggest pushes for early screen use is in education. There is a myth that children need to use screens to keep up in school. However, there is no research supporting the idea that technology increases educational outcomes. In fact, many studies found that test scores, comprehension, positive behavior, retention, recall, and memory all decreased as screen use increased in the classroom. In fact, schools that had screens experienced significant increases in educational outcomes when they banned them from the classroom.
Think about your anxious child? How much time do they spend on TV? The phone? Tablets? Now how much time do they spend outside, exploring, creating, or experimenting with toys?
How can you limit the effect of screens on you child and their anxiety?
- Limit screen time
- Notice irritability associated withs screens and tell them to take a break
- Fill their time with non-screen activities (sports, games, outdoor time, family time, chores).
- Encourage face time with friends and family rather than screen connection.
- Role model a healthy relationship with screens.
- Avoid giving a child their own devices for as long as possible.