Just as smoking harms your health, learn how an obsession with smartphones can damage your child’s brain development.

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 this is 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 smoke. Addictive stimulants in cigarettes 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 this feel-good feeling, it’s not surprising that 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 Korea University researchers, smartphone addiction can compromise brain chemistry, much like how smoking does. The changes in your brain’s chemical function have shown 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 deficit and impulsivity.

Smartphone addiction can lead to slower brain function which may result in attention deficits and impulsivity.

As everything is on the World Wide Web, it’s natural for your child to just Google anything that comes to their mind. This has indeed provided a great respite for parents from the incessant questions that come their 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.

How to manage smartphone addiction

If you think your child has smartphone addiction, sit down with him or her and talk about the consequences of excessive screen time. Nor should you be afraid to seek professional help from a trusted doctor or paediatrician.

Negotiate the amount of time allowed on the screen, and draw up a schedule of when they can use their phone. When they are using their device, download the plano app, which will send your child regular reminders to take eye breaks.

The app also lets you set device-free sessions, and keep track of your child’s device use. If your child follows these prompts, they will earn points they can use to request their parents for enrichment classes or outdoor activities.


This article, written by Ng Yue Ning, first appeared on Plano.

Photo: iStock

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