Smartphones Increase the Risk of Anxiety and Depression in Children
Aside from potentially damaging their eyesight, smartphones and tablets seem to cause mental issues as well. Scientist warn that the first signs of these problems arise in children as young as 2. Moreover, just 1 hour per day of using the device can increase the risk of anxiety and depression in kids. If this wasn’t enough, overuse of smartphones can make the kids less curious, emotionally insecure and instable.
Teenagers are the most vulnerable group when it comes to smartphones and mental issues. But kids under 10 suffer as well. Toddlers whose brains are still developing also suffer the consequences. Research shows that some children, so called ‘zombie kids’ spend as much as 5 hours a day staring at electronic devices.
Scientists Warn Parents to Cut their Kids’ Screen Time
Studies conducted by the University of Georgia and Sand Diego show that screen time as a cause for mental health issues can be easily avoided. Nearly half of all mental problems develop until a person reaches adolescence. We need to identify the factors that lead to these problems and find a way to reduce the risks. There are some risk factors that we can’t do anything about, but we can easily influence how children and teenagers spend their leisure time.
Teachers and parents alike need to cut back on kids’ screen time and encourage them to spend more time in the real world.
Professor Twenge’s study supports the screen time limit established by the American Academy of Pediatrics. This time limit is 1 hour a day for kids aged 2-5 and 2 hours for ages 5 and up until adolescence.
The study analyzed information gathered from more than 40 000 US families with kids aged 2-17 as part of a health survey in 2016. They analyzed information on the health of the kids, their emotional, behavioral and developmental issues and the amount of time they spend in front of screens.
Teenagers who spend more than 7 hours per day on a smartphone, tablet or in front of a computer double their risk of anxiety and depression, compared to teenagers who only spend an hour. The study showed a stronger connection between mental health and well being and screen time in teenagers than in pre-teens.
The professor was surprised to discover that the connection was stronger for teens. However, having in mind how much time teenagers spend on their smartphones, it shouldn’t be such a surprise. Moreover, we already know that social media, something teens use too much, is more detrimental to mental health than watching TV and videos, something younger kids mostly do.
Children younger than 5 who spend more time in front of screens are twice as likely to have mood swings and lose their temper. They’re also 46% more likely to have trouble calming down when excited.
The researchers pointed out that they will focus on links between anxiety and depression in youngsters and screen time. They feel this link hasn’t been studied in detail yet. Moreover, ‘addicted’ children are at a higher risk of suffering from sleeplessness and obesity. The children also risk falling victim to cyber-bullying, which is a big issue in our society. While they spend all that time online, they risk losing valuable social skills as a result of lack of face-to-face contact.