By Dave Sebastian,
Be it smartphones or tablets, gadgets are inevitable items in a child’s play box today. Parents, amid their busy times, often treat those gadgets as tools to “keep children busy.” But what happens when children treat gadgets as the main means of having fun?
A 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 8- to 18-year-olds spend about 7 hours and 38 minutes a day on various entertainment media. Though some apps can provide educational benefits, multiple studies have shown that overexposure to electronic media can interfere with children’s cognitive development.
Particularly during the first three years of life when the brain develops significantly, children who are too dependent on gadgets may endure permanent damage, according to Aric Sigman, an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society and a fellow of Britain’s Royal Society of Medicine.
“The ability to focus, to concentrate, to lend attention, to sense other people’s attitudes and communicate with them, to build a large vocabulary — all those abilities are harmed,” said Sigman to Psychology Today.
In later stages of life, children who succumb too much to electronic media would also be likely to face difficulties in socializing. Should children feel too comfortable in their “comfort zone,” that is, the virtual world, they automatically invest less time in interacting with others.
Such addiction to electronic gaming may as well continue into adulthood if not curbed during childhood. Instances of marital problems caused by gaming addiction have actually occurred — as Jason Ramsey, 38, of Indianapolis experienced.
“I was real little when I got [the Atari], and I was in love with it,” Ramsey said to USA Today in 2013. “It changed my life as a kid, and I hate to say it, but it changed me as an adult, too.”
As Ramsey’s wife “wanted to be romantic,” Ramsey kept “playing a game” throughout the night — even until sunrise — indulging in games on Nintendo, Super Nintendo, PlayStation, and Xbox. Ramsey’s wife finally divorced Ramsey, then only in his 20s, because of that unhealthy obsession.
Though gaming may keep your child entertained when you’re too consumed by work, exposure to electronic media should still be controlled. The best is always “enough.”