On the issue of whether children are technology-dependent today, they were widely discussed at Conference held a few days ago, sponsored by Center for Humane Technology and Common Sense Media.
Robert Lustig, professor of pediatrics at the University of Southern California and author of The Hacking of the American Mind, said his answer to that question – yes. "It's not a drug, but it does. Has similar effects, "
Lustig was studying what happened to the brains when they were addicted, whether it was sugar or heroin. He found that the brain responds to technology just as it responds to other addictive substances. "Technology, like all other awards, can lead to a lot of dropping out of dopamine, overpopulation and killing of neurons, causing addiction," he explained.
Excessive use of technology is capable of causing stress in the brain, and this has two negative effects. Too much stress the brain states to release cortisol, which can then kill neurons in the brain for memory (hippocampus). Also, stress may exclude a cerebral prefrontal cortex ("executive" part of the brain) which otherwise limits dopamine and a sense of pleasure or reward. When the brain gets used to that higher dopamine level, she wants to continue looking for habit (addictive substance).
Adolescents are particularly susceptible to many psychiatric illnesses (schizophrenia, addiction, depression, anxiety) partly because their prefrontal cortex is developing last. For Lustig definitely there is technology dependency.
Jenny Radesky, a pediatrician of developmental behavior who was the author of guidelines for the American Academy of Pediatrics, was somewhat subtle in her opinion. "From an early childhood perspective, we do not use the word 'addiction' either clinically or in research, as it is early childhood. We use ideas of 'functional impairment' when media usage is so strong that content affects only the child's behavior. "
Studies show that time spent in front of the screen can influence the main factors in healthy development of the child: nutrition, sleep and moments between children and parents through eye contact, conversation and smile, and they help to set the brain's foundation in the baby.
Part of the work of Dr. Radesky refers to the skill of self-regulation and the ability of the child's executive function, ie whether the children can focus, prioritize and control impulses. These skills are a predictive indicator for many health, social, emotional and cognitive outcomes.
Her concern lies in the fact that some parents use technology to replace and reduce critical family routines and parental practices. An example would be to calm the injured or anxious child by allowing him to play the game on the cellphone instead of talking or hugging. This can aggravate the development of children's ability to regulate their own emotions. The other participants of the conference have come to similar conclusions.
Douglas Gentile, a professor of psychology at the University of Iowa, studied the influence of children's media on decades. He stated that he had come to the issue of addiction to the position of deep skepticism. "Addiction? That's not real, "he said.
Although Radesky did not say that little children are "addicted" to technology, he thinks it is fair to talk about technological design as something that may be addictive, especially because a lot of technology is designed with the specific purpose of attracting a child and keeping their attention. "I think this is especially problematic when it comes to young children because they do not have the awareness that technology is trying to lure them."
Tristan Harris, a former Google employee, thinks technology has to change its design by paying attention to children.