When you look around walking down the street, you’ll see people with their noses in their phones’ screens all over the place. They read the news, watch videos, browse social networks, play mobile games or minimum deposit slots while they sit at the cafeteria, walk in the park, even when they are on the sidewalk (this has led to the emergence of “phone lanes” for texting pedestrians in some cities). Technology is now everywhere – and, as you might have expected, it affects our lives in many ways that are not entirely positive. One of them is digital addiction, a condition caused by overusing technology.
What is digital addiction?
Digital addiction is, in short, a condition where a person excessively interacts with technology, so much that it absorbs pretty much every bit of their attention. This, of course, has a negative impact on the person’s wellbeing as well as their relationships. Digital addiction is similar to other addictive disorders – the excessive use of mobile apps, for example, or social media triggers a reward response in the users’ brain, releasing dopamine and other chemicals, and even produces tolerance and withdrawal. The idea of this over-exposure to technology emerged in the late 2000s.
Who are the most affected by it?
As you might expect, it’s the children that are affected the most by exposure to technology. They come in contact with digital devices at a very early age – as of 2015, even children as young as one year of age are using smartphones and tablets. These are good learning tools but when used too much (and kids tend to use their gadgets pretty much all day) they become a negative influence on their lives. Studies have shown that excessive use of digital technology can (indirectly) contribute to child obesity, back pains, and can lead to poorer muscle tone because of the bad posture they adopt when using these devices. Besides, while spending more time in front of the screen, children spend less time moving, practicing sports, and participating in various other activities like reading and socializing with other children in real life.
Of course, using technology and playing video games is not entirely bad – it does have many beneficial effects, from teaching children to feel empathy to improving their problem-solving skills, fine motor functions, and such. But the excessive use of technology has many negative effects that can outweigh the positive ones.
How to prevent digital addiction in children
Simple: limit the time they spend using technology. Limiting the use of computers, mobile devices, and the time spent watching TV is a great first step. Defining “technology-free” times and zones in your home is also a good strategy: make sure your kid doesn’t use smartphones or tablets while doing homework, before bedtime, and not in the dining and the sleeping areas of your home. And make sure your kid is not bored – when boredom strikes, the easiest way to be entertained is to reach out for a smartphone.