An expert in technology addiction has said that excessive use of smartphones and tablets is like “digital heroin” for kids.
Writing in the New York Daily Post, Dr Nicholas Kardaras explained how using technology such as tablets and phones raised dopamine levels, the hormone associated with rewards or feeling good.
Dr Kardaras added that research shows that the frontal cortex of the brain is affected by screens in the same way as it is affected when taking cocaine.
Citing Dr. Peter Whybrow, director of neuroscience at the University of California and Chinese researchers who each described screens as “electronic cocaine” or “digital heroin” to kids under 10 years of age.
Dr Kardaras says that once a child crossed the line of ‘tech addiction’ they become increasingly anxious, aggressive and depressed.
“It [tech addiction]can even lead to psychotic-like features where the video gamer loses touch with reality,” he said, adding that treatment can become difficult.
“I have found it easier to treat heroin and crystal meth addicts than lost-in-the-matrix video gamers or Facebook-dependent social media addicts,” Dr Kardaras said.
He adds that children need a full on digital detox, meaning no computers, smartphones, tablets and in some cases even television for a period of between 4 to 6 weeks in order for the child’s hyper aroused nervous system to reset itself.
Dr Kardaras tips for preventing tech addiction in kids is to play Lego rather than Minecraft, read books instead of play on the iPad or play sport instead of watching TV.
He also recommended having honest discussions with your kids about the amount of time they are allowed to use a smartphone or tablet and limiting such electronic devices at the dining table.
He adds that parents should really wait until a child is at least 10 years old before giving them a smartphone or tablet.