The drug-life effect of screen time on the teenage brain

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The drug-life effect of screen time on the teenage brain


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“ Screen addiction is a group of behaviours that are negative, some negative outcomes, that can happen when we use too much technology during our day” - Kathryn Lorenz, MD

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So what Screen Addiction really means? it’s when screen use becomes so compulsive that it leads to impaired daily functioning in terms of productivity, social relationships, physical health, or emotional being.

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If iPad, smartphones , and screens seems like drugs for teens because they have a lot in common with uppers when comes to their developing brain. Screen time, sugar, and reward all they want teen’s brains with dopamine, the same feel-good chemical released when people do cocaine or see that someone liked their Instagram post. Dopamine feedback loops a reads, an area of increasingly intense concern as scientist grapple with the biological consequences and causes of digital actions.

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Is dopamine addictive in the purest of that term? Not exactly. Dopamine drives and reinforces habits without creating a biological need. But habits matter especially for teens.

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Scientist cannot say for sure that increased dopamine uptake during childhood increases the risk of substances abuse in adulthood. However, psychologist are learning that dopamine from screen is impairing the impulse control, increasing the demand for instant gratification, and causing more teens to try and “swipe” real picture and punch books as if they’re touch screens

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Screen time was divided into four categories Abstainers – reported no screen at all Low users – got no more that 2 hours of screen time a day Moderate users – got between 2 to 6 hours a day Excessive users – were those who used screens for more than 6 hours each day

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During the preteen and teen years, the brain goes through major transformations. This may be why tweens and teens are especially vulnerable to the impacts of screen time on brain function and emotional well being. Here are the ways screen time affecting teenage brain and health:

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Learning – one study found that kids and young adults who spend a lot of time on TV and video games were twice as likely to suffer from American Deficit Disorder(ADD). ADD is a neurological disorder that causes a range of behaviour problems such as difficulty attending to instruction, focusing on schoolwork, keeping up with assignments, following instructions, completing task and social interactions.

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Self confidence – more time watching videos or other content on digital devices means less time exploring and creating their own experiences, stories, or art.

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Social skills – online experiences can build community and foster communication and creativity. But as Screenagers points out , tweens and teens might hide behind the screen to avoid tricky or awkward conversations, like approaching a crush or making new friends. Screenager is a person in their teens or early twenties who has an aptitude for computers and spends much time on the internet.

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Emotions and Personality – in 2010, researchers found that kids who logged more than two hours a day of a computers or TV screens had a higher chance of psychological difficulties on standard questionnaires. Studies in young men show that playing violent video games is linked to more aggression and less sensitivity to others. Also imaging studies have found out that internet addiction and game addiction can shrink the brain regions responsible for planning and executive functions, empathy, compassion, and impulse control.

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Addiction and Reward Seeking - a recent survey found out that 50 percent of teenagers admitted being addicted to their mobile devices. It is learned that brain’s dopamine center is extra sensitive during the teenage years, making the rush of playing video games feel even more addictive.

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Sleep – similar to findings in adults, screen time can have damaging effects on sleep . A 2015 study reported that those who clocked in four or more hours of screen time a day ( outside of schoolwork and homework) had about a 50 percent higher likelihood of lying awake for an hour or more before initially falling asleep . And according to recent study, lack of sleep in teens is linked to more risky behaviours like drinking and driving.