Too much screen time can cause several harmful side effects on teens. Researchers can also agree to that fact, but a new study suggests that parents are also affected just as much by too much exposure to these portable screens.
Harmful Side Effects of Too Much Screen Time
1. The gray matter in the brain deteriorates
Various studies have shown that internet or gaming addiction can cause atrophy in gray matter areas of the brain, which is where processing occurs. Other areas that are affected are the frontal lobe, striatum, and insula.
2. The integrity of white matter is compromised
It is proven that too much screen exposure can compromise the integrity of the brain’s white matter, which often leads to loss of communication within the brain. White matter also connects networks from the brain to the body and vice versa.
3. There is a reduction in cortical thickness
Researchers have found that internet addiction can lead to a reduction in cortical thickness. In some cases, researchers found that there is a reduced cortical thickness in the frontal lobe of online gaming addicts, which correlates with the impairment of a cognitive task.
4. The cognitive function of the brain is impaired
Researchers have discovered that too much screen exposure can cause the brain to process information less efficiently, which ultimately leads to poor task performance.
5. There are uncontrolled cravings and impaired dopamine function
Studies show that online games cause the brain to release too much dopamine, which results to craving or urges that are similar to drug addiction.
Various Studies that Support the Claim
A report from the Pew Research Center states that parents are just as compromised by too much screen time. In a research entitled “How Teens and Parents Navigate Screen Time and Device Distractions”, data is presented regarding the behavior of tech-addled kids as well as the concerns and behaviors of their parents.
According to the report, every family member struggles to sustain a healthy relationship with their devices. About 51% of the teens say that their parents are distracted by their phones during conversations “at times”, whereas 14% say that their parents are “frequently” guilty of this particular behavior. In fact, parents are more likely than their teenage kids to be distracted by their phones outside of the home.
Managing our Screen Time Better
Due to the concerns about too much screen time, several companies have introduced new features into phones, wearable, and other devices in order to help users have more self-control.
Google, for instance, announced its Digital Wellbeing Initiative in May, which offers Android users easy access to their activity log. Apple, on the other hand, announced its upcoming iOS will have a Screen Time feature that offers similar tools. These tech companies, along with other big-time tech executives like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, uses this strategy with the understanding that these gadgets are primarily designed to cause addiction in mind.
Aside from using these tools, one thing that we could do to better manage our screen time is to practice self-discipline. It will definitely be hard at first. But if we want our younger generations to heed our advice, we must set a good example for them to follow.
A certain amount of limits can be useful. It doesn’t have to be too harsh since it will run the risk of promoting rebellious behaviors. The most important thing is to educate children about the risk of too much exposure to gadgets and to be a good role model to them.
No one is indeed immune to products that are specially-designed to short-circuit one’s self-control, even parents. But if parents keep telling their children to do something that they themselves cannot do, then it will eventually generate more opportunities for conflict later on.