Screen Dependency Disorder – Its Symptoms, effects and tips for Parents

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I was attending a wedding the other day. At a wedding, you witness a plethora of things apart from the main occasion. A mother was facing the adversity of feeding her toddler daughter, who was quite edgy in her fancy outfit. What the mother did next gave me a striking reality check on parenting in modern times. When the baby was creating a ruckus to coax her, the mother simply fished out her cellphone, played some video, and the child was instantly distracted. She didn’t care anymore if she was feeling any discomfort or that she didn’t like the food. As a parent, I felt how deeply dependent we have become on the screens nowadays to raise our kids, to make them play, or to calm them down. Similarly, kids are way too much engrossed in the digital world. All these things are going to impact them badly in the long run. These activities and habits can lead them to suffer from Screen Dependency Disorder.

What is Screen Dependency Disorder?

Screen Dependency Disorder (SDD) is a modern world mental health challenge that is caused by excessive screen time and exposure to blue light from screens that can impact the brain and its development in the kids along with other far-reaching consequences. The disorder can cause various harsh effects on the young brains about which we as Parents are unaware. It can affect various functions of the brain, causing long-term effects as drastic as brain damage. Various psychologists have found in their research that under the influence of SDD, kids have shown behavioral. The kids are more withdrawn, showing no interest in indoor-outdoor activities or interaction with people. They might even develop the habit of lying about the screen time despite knowing all the consequences. The kids develop an addictive approach to the digital world.

Did You Know
Kids spend twice as long playing on screens as they do playing outside.3-in-4 kids spend less than 60 minutes playing outside each day.

As a mental condition, the symptoms for SDD can be ambiguous to distinguish, but with carefully noticing, one can easily make out the acts that point towards the presence of this disorder. Major symptoms include:

  • Withdrawal symptoms: The child is reluctant to participate or interact in any activity beyond the digital world or prefers being active digitally.
  • Preoccupation: the kids are usually ignorant of their surroundings and the people present in them. They tend to be busy on the screen and tune out the world that doesn’t seem to catch their attention at all.
  • Can’t stop the use of screen activities: kids who develop an addiction to digital screens have huge trouble getting away from them or stopping their use altogether. They become restless and start throwing tantrums, stop eating food and other activities if they’re not in touch with the screen.
  • Use to escape foul moods or problems: At the tender age which the kids are, they must understand that escaping a problem or bad mood through watching videos or digitally interacting is not the right thing to do. The kids suffering from SDD exactly do that.
  • Lying and continuation despite harmful effects: The kids start lying about their screen time because they know that it’s wrong. Lying can become their second nature, and they’ll make excuses and continue using the screens.
Effects of Screen Dependence Disorder

Keeping the other symptoms and effects in view, the disorder can severely harm the kids. They become susceptible to developing social anxiety, low confidence, communication problems, and other mental health issues. Low self-esteem can destroy the future of these kids. The preoccupation can make them feel lonely and segregated because they won’t know how to interact with people, and people would prevent interaction with them as they would be too withdrawn. They can become very cranky or develop anger or tolerance-related issues. Stubbornness is another byproduct. This can impact the lifelong development of their brain and personality. This disorder can also affect their nutrition and cause deficiency because while eating, they won’t usually be concentrating on their food. Multiple studies have proven that because of this problem, children’s brains might shrink to lose tissues from areas that govern their social and emotional instincts. Furthermore, loss or gain in weight, insomnia, backache, vision-related issues are some of the physical effects to count. Watching our child suffer like this, knowing that we could have prevented this from happening, is pretty impossible for us. Therefore, certain tips for the parents to curb this problem before it goes too much out of hand are as follows:

Tips and Suggestion for Parents
  1. You must set some basic ground rules. Prevent the use of digital media for kids below 18 months. 15 minutes of maximum screen time is enough for a child between 2-5 years old. For children beyond that, keep the limit between 1-2 hours at max.
  2. Keep in touch with your child. Indulge them in conversation and allow them to develop an interest in other outdoor activities and indoor games. Let your kid know that the world beyond digital screens is way more intriguing and fun. Give time to your kids.
  3. Remove all the digital screens from the rooms of your kids or any other resting place. Make sure that your kids use the TV, mobile phones, etc., under your supervision only. Tell them about the content they’re consuming and make them aware of the effects.

We’re living in an extremely technology-driven world, and hence total prevention isn’t possible. But with awareness and supervision, we can strike a good balance.

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