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The New Smoking: Smartphone Addiction And Its Effects On Your Child’s Brain

Just like cigarettes, smartphone addiction can cause detrimental effects to your child’s brain development.

The pull of the screen.

In today’s digital age, it’s not uncommon to find our children glued to their phones. They can find all sorts of entertainment and information online. While that’s good, it’s also necessary to responsibly manage their screen time before they develop smartphone addiction.

Using a smartphone can evoke the same effects on the brain as having a puff of smoke. Within cigarettes are addictive stimulants that trigger the release of the feel-good hormone, dopamine. Dopamine gives the user a rush of energy and pleasure that courses through their nervous system. The same thing happens every time we get a text reply, or a new like on Facebook or Instagram. And who doesn’t like to feel good? Once your child gets a taste of the feel-good feeling, it’s unsurprising if they want to experience it again, and again. This breeds addiction. However, smartphone addiction can cause adverse effects on your child’s brain.

The effects of smartphone addiction.

According to studies done by researchers from Korea University, smartphone addiction can compromise brain chemistry, much like how smoking does too. The changes in your brain’s chemical function have revealed a strong correlation to mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Furthermore, smartphone addiction can lead to slower brain function which may result in attention deficits and impulsivity.

With everything accessible on the world wide web, it’s natural for your child to just Google anything that comes to their mind. For parents, that has indeed provided a great respite from the incessant questions that may come our way. However, the accessibility of just “Google-ing it” can breed lazy thinkers. Your child may develop an over-dependence on the internet for answers, instead of thinking creatively about them.

Managing smartphone addiction.

If you think your child has smartphone addiction, it’s time to sit down with him/her and talk about the consequences of excessive screen time. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help by talking to a trusted doctor or pediatrician either. Negotiate the amount of time allowed on the screen, and draw up a schedule of when he/she can use his/her phone. During the moments when he/she is using his/her device, you can download the plano app which will send your child regular reminders to take eye breaks. Besides that, you can set device-free timings, and keep track of your child’s smart device use. If your child follows these prompts, he/she will earn points which can be used to request for enrichment classes or outdoor activities from his/her parents.

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