It’s a commonplace theme in modern-day society for parents to supply their kids with a tablet, phone, iPad, or laptop as a means of entertainment. And while it may be commonplace and while many may take offense to this, I think it’s time that we set our egos to the side for the benefit of our children.
You might be shaking your head, and getting upset now. You might even think I am mom-shaming you, or something along those lines. But, I promise you I am not. Just because something is a common practice in society does not mean it is okay or even right. The millions of children glued to a screen may seem okay, but mental disorders are skyrocketing, childhood depression is at an all-time high and even child suicide rates are increasing. This is not the time to get offended by the truth.
“It takes nothing to join the crowd. It takes everything to stand alone.” -Hans F. Hansen
Think of it like this: as a species, we are wired to become dependent on anything that causes dopamine to be released. The reason for this is for our survival, to keep us searching for good food, and to keep us reproducing. However, as we have advanced, we have found new and creative ways to make life more pleasurable. It’s as easy as opening Facebook, seeing that you have likes and comments from your friends and family, and BOOM you get a hit of dopamine. Your brain says, “Hey, I like that!” and thus a craving is created. This is how addiction is born. And it happens each time you use your tablet/phone/ computer. Now, imagine having a tiny developing brain. How do you think introducing an addictive component is going to help or hinder them?
We could grasp at straws all day here, but let’s review the science. According to the research, spending too much time in front of a screen can cause a lack of sleep, speech delays, poor social skills, and all of the problems associated with addiction.
Much like a heroin addiction, if your child becomes addicted to a screen, there are signs. Without their drug of choice (their iPad) they will become agitated, they will have a lack of control over whether or not they use their tablet, they will lose interest in other activities, and feel motivated to push through other activities on autopilot (disassociation) mode until they can use their tablet again.
We are in a modern-day culture of people who are so self-aware about having a mental illness, while simultaneously being oblivious to the fact that we are only adding fuel to the fire of the epidemic of mental illness. If we ever want to help our society to overcome mental illness – we will have to re-examine the relationship we have with electronics. And as parents, it’s our job to model the right behavior.