4 ways to stop the harm gadgets are causing your kids
Every time your children score a point, gain lives, beat a level or win a prize on a video game or gadget, they arereceiving one of many frequent intermittent rewards that keep them hooked and focused. And parents wonder whytheir child is struggling to focus in school? The answer may be closely related.
“When a child plays an electronic game and receives frequent intermittent rewards, their brains release dopamine – a neurotransmitter that is closely related to reward motivated behavior,” said Lisa Elliott, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and manager of the Cook Children’s Behavioral Health Clinic in Denton. “In school or in other social situations, a child does not normally receive these rewards, making it more difficult for them to stay focused in a non-technology based situation.”
Elliott believes this is a factor contributing to the recent rise in ADHD. She said she is concerned about gadgets, especially video games, and what they could be doing to harm our children. By allowing so much focus on technology and mobile devices, children aren’t learning to hold their attention without some type of reward.
Whatever the cause is, Elliott offers four simple ways to prevent the damage that gadgets could be causing your child:
1.Remove any screens from the bedroom.
2.Pay attention to the content your child is viewing, especially violence.
3.Set limits on screen time each day. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends screens be kept out of kids' bedrooms and children should be limited to less than two hours per day of screen time. For children under 2 years of age, all screen media exposure is discouraged.
4.Create healthy playtime such as outdoors or being active.
These simple changes may make the difference in how your children perform this school year.And while your kids may be upset now, they'll thank you later.
About the author
Caroline Gayler volunteers in the public relations department at Cook Children’s Health Care System. She is a senior at TCU majoring in Strategic Communications.