Child internet addiction like ”habitual cocaine” use

Child internet addiction like ”habitual cocaine” use

The amount of hours children spend in front of a screen correlate with addictive behaviours, depression and unhealthy lifestyles says research.

Quoting research from psychologist Dr Aric Sigman’s paper in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, former Tory children’s minister Tim Loughton said that child internet addiction could cause “brain changes like those seen in alcoholics and habitual cocaine users.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics reported on “Facebook depression”, which revealed an “increased risk of disengagement and vulnerability to victimisation after high levels of screen time in early childhood” as well as an “impaired ability to express empathy”.

A US study, citing data gathered from 2,623 children, published in the journal of pediatrics also found those who watch TV at the ages of one to three years had “significantly increased risk of developing attentional problems by the time they were seven years old.”

Mr Loughton wrote an essay for children’s charity 4Children which set out a 10-point plan of action that could be taken to “strengthen” families’ calls for the relationship between state and families to be rebalanced.

“Growing up in Britain today is more challenging today then ever before. Pressures to get into the chosen school; to perform well at the right school; to ‘look cool'; to be resilient in the light of peer pressure; and to safeguard integrity both on and off social media – the many faceted phenomena of the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood – are all everyday challenges that our children and young people have to deal with from an early age.”

Public Health England (PHE) last year launched a government campaign in light of initial reports to encourage families to limit screen time as well as building activities into their day.

PHE’s director of health and wellbeing, Kevin Fenton said: “There are many complex factors that affect a child’s wellbeing such as the wider environment they live in and their social, financial and family circumstances, but there are also some very simple things we can do to help improve their health and wellbeing.”

Government health leaders are using evidence gathered from research to support the message that “more physical activity will make children more likely to concentrate in school, enjoy better relationships with classmates and be less worried, anxious or depressed”.