Children Are Addicted To Screens, And It’s Seriously Hurting Them

By Brent McCluskey 07/14/15

Many children spend a minimum of eight hours per day on an electronic device.

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Between tablets, smartphones, television, and video games, children spend countless hours per day staring at a screen, and it’s altering their view on life itself.

Chinese doctors view this type of addiction as a clinical disorder and have even set up rehab centers for the afflicted young people. But America has yet to determine that Internet addiction merits a clinical diagnosis.

The American Academy of Pediatrics said in its 2013 statement on “Children, Adolescents, and the Media” that most children spend at least eight hours per day on an electronic device.

“The average eight- 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,” the report said.

The primary issue with “screen-addicted” children, especially very young ones, is the disruption of real-world learning.

“We’re throwing screens at children all day long, giving them distractions rather than teaching them how to self-soothe, to calm themselves down,” said Catherine Steiner-Adair, a Harvard-affiliated clinical psychologist and author of the best-selling book The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age.

Steiner-Adair added that creativity is stifled when children stare at a screen instead of interacting with real human beings.

“If kids are allowed to play ‘Candy Crush’ on the way to school, the car ride will be quiet, but that’s not what kids need,” said Steiner-Adair. “They need time to daydream, deal with anxieties, process their thoughts and share them with parents, who can provide reassurance.”

Aside from the psychological deficits, screen addiction amongst children can also lead to physical issues like finger and wrist pain, neck and back pain, and narrowed blood vessels in their eyes.

The American Academy recommends that children younger than two not be exposed to any form of electronic screen, while older children and teenagers should only be allowed a maximum of two hours per day with electronic media.

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Brent McCluskey is a Social Media Editor at International Business Times as well as a Jedi with Sith tendencies.  He is also a reader of books, slayer of dragons, and level 80 mage.

“Yeah, I have a broad skill set. If I had to pick between being a Divergent or a wizard, I'd pick a wizard.”  His wizardness can be found on Twitter and Linkedin.