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Screen Dependency Disorders: A New Challenge for Child Neurology

Children’s neurological development is influenced by what they do and do not experience. Early experiences and the environments in which they occur can alter gene expression and affect long-term neural development. Today, discretionary screen time (DST), often involving multiple devices, is the single main experience and environment of children. Various screen activities are reported to induce structural and functional brain plasticity in adults. However, childhood is a time of significantly greater changes in brain anatomical structure and connectivity. Digital natives exhibit a higher prevalence of screen-related ‘addictive’ behaviours that reflect impaired neurological reward-processing and impulse-control mechanisms. Associations are emerging between screen dependency disorders (SDD) such as Internet Addiction Disorder and specific neurogenetic polymorphisms, abnormal neural tissue and neural function. 

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