(WXYZ) – Smartphone use is ever present in our society and now it appears to be reshaping the way we think. And possibly not in a good way – a recent study is now linking frequent use to ADHD in teens.
First of all, I don’t want parents to panic. Yes, this study that took place over 2 years showed teens’ heavy use of digital media may increase their odds of developing symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. But the researchers are not sure if the use of digital devices created these symptoms or if these kids would have developed the symptoms regardless -and then spent more time on social media, watching streaming videos or playing games because they crave that kind of stimulation. So more research is definitely needed before we can say smartphone use causes ADHD symptoms. But I believe it’s something for parents to be very aware of when it comes to kids and media use.
I asked on our WXYZ Facebook page if parents thought digital devices affected their kid’s health. And I got a lot of interesting and concerning feedback from parents. Nicole Ward posted that media use “does has an impact. Mostly on behavior. My kids get agitated when they play on them more, it becomes an addictive behavior when I take them away.” And Milisa Gacaferi also posted “My 6yr craves the phone. (He) plays games like granny or watches YouTube. He has to earn time though”. I can relate to these Moms as my kids also love their media time as well. But it’s important that we place reasonable limits on what our kids can do. Research has found that media does affect their health and can influence their beliefs and behaviors when it comes to violence, aggression, eating disorders, substance abuse, and obesity. And now this new study finds it may also lead to problems with focus, attention, and more difficulty when it comes to controlling impulses. So it’s important for parents to be involved and talk to your kids about healthy limits on screen time.
Recent studies have also indicated that ADHD may develop in adulthood, learn more here.
1. Parents and caregivers need to set time limits that are age appropriate but there are no “one-size fits all” as not all screen time is created equal. Media use should be balanced with getting the right amount of sleep each night (8-14 hours depending on age), being physically active (1 hour per day is recommended), having enough time for homework and also engage in any family activities.
2. Talk to your children about balance and mindful use of media. Get their input on what they like to do and then set up a media plan using the Family Media Use Plan tool.
3. Watch how your children behave during and after media use. Kids who play violent games or watch violence on TV are more likely to be aggressive, and possibly believe the world is scary and bad things may happen to them or loved ones.
4. Technology is not all bad, it can be a healthy part of childhood and the adolescent years when appropriate boundaries are set. Children can learn positive things like empathy, integrity, teamwork, and tolerance toward folks in different races.
- For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they’re seeing.
- For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
- For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.
- Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
- Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.
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Data pulled from WXYZ.