Mobile devices, such as tablets and phones, are increasingly becoming an essential part of everyone’s daily lives. If you walk down the street, you will always see a few people talking or texting on their cell phones. Children use their cell phones to do research and to socialize.
“We don’t always know causation in psychology — especially without being able to measure something for a long time — but there are a lot of correlational studies that are pointing to social media and digital phone use,” says Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist. However, medical professionals warn that children who overuse gadgets are in danger of developing symptoms similar to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that children who have ADHD may be overly active and may have difficulty paying attention. A survey the CDC conducted in 2011 reports that ten percent of children in the USA have ADHD. The CDC estimates that more than six million children in the USA have ADHD. The CDC further states that ADHD is the most common disorder among children.
Children will not develop ADHD if they overuse gadgets because ADHD is a genetic condition. “Children who have been diagnosed with ADHD are at a much higher risk of developing noncompliant or negative behaviors than a child who does not have ADHD.” Kara Tamanini, M.S., LMHC added. However, overuse of devices can cause symptoms that are similar to ADHD. When you misuse gadgets, you do not focus. Instead, you can. You become used to fast-paced information, and that is fragmented and scattered.
In a study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, they found that children aged eight to eighteen spend approximately seven and a half hours each day on their gadgets. Reducing that amount to one hour per day will be a significant accomplishment.
It is suggested that children should spend only one or two hours each day on their gadgets. The Academy of Pediatrics recommends that preschool children should also spend only one or two hours each day on their mobile devices.
Overusing gadgets can become something similar to an addiction. Children would want to go back to using their mobile devices because they find them more fascinating and interesting compared to reading a book or sitting in a classroom. When eating with their family at a restaurant, children would be staring at their mobile devices instead of socializing and bonding with their family.
Children often enjoy playing with their mobile devices, such as a cell phone or an iPad. Some parents use it as a reward when their children are suitable. There are even parents who use it as a reward for very young children who go to the bathroom during potty training.
When a parent is diagnosed with ADHD, the whole family has to be careful in their use of gadgets. Even if the children are not yet diagnosed with ADHD, they are predisposed toward developing it because their parent has it. It is advisable to limit their use of gadgets to once or twice each day with each time-limited to fifteen to twenty minutes.
“It is a social theory which examines the long-term effects of television. The research shows that too much time spent in front of the TV watching violent programs leads to ‘the mean world syndrome.” As UA Huntsville psychologist Pavica Sheldon explains. It is not surprising that negative effects are resulting from spending too much time on television screens, tablets, and phones. If you spend too much time on your mobile phone, you can become scatterbrained.
One of the difficulties with gadgets is the fact that children view devices such as television, tablets, and iPads as toys. Games can cause different areas of the brain to adapt and learn to quickly scan information to score points or to unlock new characters. This is different from what is required of the mind in environments such as the classroom where the pace is slower.
But technology is not all bad. Gadgets can have positive uses. Mobile devices can be valuable tools in socialization and bonding. It also provides a platform to spread awareness on how to improve our well-being. The important thing to remember is to use technology in moderation.