Do your children spend prolonged amounts of time on smartphones and tablets? If so, it could be causing issues with their mental health.
According to researchers from San Diego State University and the University of Georgia, children as young as two are beginning to develop issues such as anxiety and depression. Scientists warn that just an hour a day staring at a screen is enough to do the damage.
DailyMail reports that the screen time can make them less curious, less likely to finish tasks, less emotionally stable, and lowers their self-control. Sounds similar to an issue most commonly diagnosed as ADHD, doesn't it? This is a preventable issue though!
Although teenagers are most at risk from the damaging devices, children under the age of 10 and toddlers' still-developing brains are also being affected.
[R]esearch shows 'zombie' British children spend nearly five hours every day gawping at electronic devices.
Professors Jean Twenge and Keith Campbell said, "Half of mental health problems develop by adolescence. There is a need to identify factors linked to mental health issues that are [able to be changed] in this population, as most are difficult or impossible to influence."
They added, "How children and adolescents spend their leisure time is [easier] to change."
Parents and teachers must cut the amount of time children spend online or watching television while they're studying, socialising, eating or even playing sport.
Professor Twenge said her study, one of the biggest of its kind, backs the American Academy of Pediatrics' established screen time limit – one hour per day for children aged two to five.
It also suggests a similar limit – perhaps two hours – should be applied to school-aged children and adolescents, she added.
The professors said, "Previous research on associations between screen time and psychological well being among children and adolescents has been conflicting, leading some researchers to question the limits on screen time suggested by physician organisations."
They have noticed a large decline in adolescents reading and worry that this will affect their ability to study and do well in school. "Time on digital media has displaced time once spent enjoying a book or watching TV," Twenge added.
Pre-schoolers, or under fives, who are high users are twice as likely to often lose their temper – and are 46 per cent more prone to not be able to calm down when excited.
Among 14 to 17 year olds, more than four in ten (42.2 per cent) of those in the study who spent more than seven hours a day on screens did not finish tasks.
About one in eleven (9 per cent) of 11 to 13-year-olds who spent an hour with screens daily were not curious or interested in learning new things.
Personally, I will not even be buying my little a tablet until she's a little older and even then the time will be limited.