Mental health issues have been developing in children as young as two linking back to the use of smartphones and tablets. Studies show how just one hour of screen time, children, and adolescents have less curiosity, lower self-esteem, low self-control, and lower emotional stability, which can lead to an increased risk of anxiety and depression according to an article published in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports. The study has data on more than 40,000 children aged two to 17 in the US, provided by parents for a nationwide health survey.
During the study, researchers found that those ages 14-17 are more likely to suffer from the effects, but they noticed that children under 10 and toddlers still-developing brains are at high risk. Researchers from San Diego State University and University of Georgia state that time spent on smartphones is becoming a very serious but avoidable problem. Children attending nursery school who used screens frequently were twice as likely to lose their temper.
According to the study, it also claimed that nine percent of those aged 11 to 13 who spent an hour a day on screens were not curious in learning new things, a figure which rose to 22.6 percent for those whose screen time was seven hours a day or more.
San Diego University 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.
She added “Half of the mental health problems develop by adolescence, thus, there is an acute need to identify factors linked to mental health issues that are amenable to intervention in this population, as most antecedents are difficult or impossible to influence. Compared to these more intractable antecedents of mental health, how children and adolescents spend their leisure time is more amenable to change.”
Both of the professors suggest and urge parents and teachers to reduce the time children are spending online, playing video games or watching televisions in order to lessen the damage of early mental health issues.The National Institute of Health claims that young people spend an average of five to seven hours on screens in their spare time.
Pre-schoolers or children under five, who are high users were shown to often lose their temper – and are 46 percent more prone to not be able to calm down when excited. Teens between 14 and 17 in the study who spent more than seven hours a day on screens did not finish a task. About 9 percent of 11 to 13 years old who spent an hour with screens daily were not curious or interested in learning new things.
The evidence is growing, and studies are expanding on this issue regarding mental health. Experts are warning parents that ‘addicted’ children risk sleeplessness, obesity and falling victim to cyber-bullying, while also losing valuable social skills through a lack of human face to face communication.
Author: Mckenzie Santa Maria
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