Scientists warn that kids as young as 2 years old are actually developing mental health issues due to tablets and smartphones. It turns out that 60 minutes a day looking at a screen is enough to make kids more likely to be depressed or anxious.
The DailyMail reports that this can be making them less eager to know and capable to finish tasks. It can lower their self-control and make them less emotionally stable.
Even though teens are most at risk when it comes to damaging devices, the developing brains of toddlers and kids under 10 years old are being impacted as well.
According to research, “zombie” kids spend around 5 hours every single day looking at electronic devices.
The researchers from the University of Georgia and San Diego State University say that time spent on electronic devices such as smartphones is a serious cause of mental health problems but is avoidable as well.
The professors Keith Campbell and Jean Twenge say that half of the mental health issues develop by the time kids reach adolescence.
So, it’s necessary to recognize factors connected to mental health problems which are (able to be changed) in the population, most of them are hard to influence. The way kids and adolescents spend their free time is much easier to change.
Teachers and parents should lower the number of time kids spend online and watching television while they are socializing, studying, playing sport or eating.
The study of professor Twenge which is one of the biggest of its type actually supports the established screen time limit from the American Academy of Pediatrics which is 1 hour a day for kids from 2-5 years old.
Also, it suggests a limit of 2 hours to adolescents and school-aged kids. For a nationwide health study in 2016, researchers analyzed information provided by the parents of around 40,000 US kids.
This questionnaire asked about behavioral, emotional and developmental problems, daily screen time, and medical care of the kids.
It showed that adolescents spending more than 7 hours on a daily basis on screens are twice more likely to be diagnosed with depression and anxiety in comparison to those who spend only 1 hour.
The connections between wellbeing and screen time are stronger among adolescents in comparison to young kids.
According to professor Twenge, teens spend more time on social media and their smartphones and these activities are strongly connected to low well-being.
This is in comparison to watching video and TV which is most of the screen time of younger kids.
Moreover, even moderate use of 4 hours is liked with lower psychological well-being in comparison to 1 hour a day. Under-fives and pre-schoolers who are actually high users are twice more likely to lose their temper.
Also, they are 46% more prone not to be capable of calming down when being excited. Among 14-16-year-olds more than 4 in 10 of those who spent more than 7 hours screen time didn’t finish tasks.
About 1 in 11 of those 11-13-year-olds who spent 1 hour with screen time on a daily basis weren’t interested or curious about learning new stuff.
The professors are interested in connections between diagnoses of depression and anxiety and screen time in youngsters. This is something which isn’t studied in great detail.
According to them, previous research on links between psychological wellbeing and screen time among adolescents and kids have been conflicting.
And that lead some scientists to question the limits on screen time which are suggested by some physician organizations.
Based on the US National Institute of Health adolescents and kids on average spend from 5-7 hours on screens during their free time. There is growing evidence of the severe effects it has on their health.
As a matter of fact, this year the WHO, i.e. World Health Organization made a decision to include gaming disorder in the eleven revision of the International Classification of Diseases.
In December 2017 one team of researchers from the Oxford University discovered that UK “zombie” kids’ average screen time on a daily basis has leaped in a generation from under 3 to 4 hours and around 45 minutes.
Many experts warn that those kids who are addicted face risk of obesity, falling victim to cyber-bullying, sleeplessness while at the same time losing social skills due to lack of face-to-face contact.