Every kid can be bribed with an iPad. They go crazy for screen time. Or maybe it’s the screen time that’s making them crazy. Kids as young as two years old are navigating through apps, playing games, and taking selfies. The US Department of Health and Human Services estimates that American children spend seven hours a day in front of electronic media. That’s almost an entire work or school day! There’s a number of troubling studies that reveal a delayed cognitive develop in kids, even though it seems like technology use is making them smarter.


Dr. Aric Sigman, an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society and a Fellow of Britain’s Royal Society of Medicine, said when a young child gets hooked on electronic media, it actually does damage to their developing brain. It actually has a counterproductive to what the proud parents are trying to foster in their kids: 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. When parents view technology as something “smart,” they’re proud of their children for being capable of using a device. However, it’s doing more harm than good.


Between birth and the age of 3, that’s considered a critical period for developing brains. This is when a permanent foundation is set for later brain functioning. A child’s neural networks are developed by picking up specific stimuli from the outside world. Unfortunately, this stimuli can’t be found in a tablet, hence stunting the child’s development. If damage occurs during the crucial years, the effects can last forever.


Devices are an easy shortcut for parents. It gives them a break and keeps the child occupied/entertained/”learning.” However, by allowing your device to tell your child a bedtime story instead of them hearing your own voice, there’s other elements to that interaction that are crucial for development that are being left out. Human interaction is the only way to teach children nonverbal cues such as facial expression, tone of voice, and more. When that part of the brain doesn’t develop in the years it should, child struggle with social interaction and making friends.


The immediate stimuli and response children are used to getting on electronic devices are not the same in real life. They become addicted to the high stimulus from experiencing the hits of dopamine they get when they swipe the screen and see a photo with bright colors. This is a pattern that resembles the dangerous cycle medical professionals see in drug and alcohol addicts.


If you think your child might be addicted to electronic media, please contact Crownview Medical Group to get in touch with a medical professional who can provide advice based on your child’s individual needs.