Are Kids Hooked on Digital Heroin?

Playing Digital Heroin?

There is a fine line between entertaining your child with some screen time – on your phone, tablet or computer – and a youngster developing an unhealthy need to for all things digital. The Doctors examine ways to prevent your kid from becoming addicted to the use of devices and ask do our kids need a digital detox?

According to recent brain imaging research, screen time affects the brain’s frontal cortex, which controls executive functioning and impulse control, in the same way drugs like cocaine does. Additionally, surrounding oneself with technology and gadgets is said to be hyper-arousing and raises dopamine levels. This is a serious issue with the average 8 to 10-year-old spending 8 hours a day immersed in various types of digital media and teens spending 11 hours in front of screens, according to a 2013 study from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The use of digital screens comes early for most as one in three kids uses a tablet or a smartphones before they are able to talk.

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Psychotherapist Stacy Kaiser joins The Doctors to offer up her take on how to handle this digital dilemma, saying, “They need to be removed from their devices and it needs to be for long periods of time. So, what I recommend parents do is create rules for the devices. I’m not talking about if they are doing homework, I’m talking about play time. It should be that it’s about an hour to 2 hours a day, depending on if its weekend or a week day”

One approach is to seriously limit the amount of time your child spends in front of a screen from an early age. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids under the age of 2 have no screen time whatsoever.

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The Doctors also recommend swapping out digital items for real world alternatives, like LEGOs instead of Minecraft, picking books over iPads, and going outside to play instead of sitting in front of the TV.