17 November 2016

Concerns Over Internet Addiction Among Youngsters

With the constant rise and current prevalence of technology comes an increase in internet addiction. As the internet was not available for many older generations, these addictions are primarily found in the millennial demographic, who have grown up with the internet.

The dramatic increase in internet addictions in youngsters is sparking concern among many experts who believe that this will affect the behaviour and overall performance of these children as they grow up.

Concerning Figures

Concerning figures have emerged recently that highlight the increasing internet and online use of young children. The results show that nursery school children as young as three and four years old are using tablets and going online for an average of 71 minutes daily; once gaming and watching television are adding to this, the total rises to four hours and eleven minutes. Children between the ages of five and fifteen were found to be spending an average of five hours and thirty-three minutes a day online.

Sue Palmer, a literacy adviser and author of Toxic Childhood, commented on the concerning issue, “The findings are very, very worrying. There are so many other things that kids of that age should be doing. We have to make a real effort to get children outdoors. The main problem is that screen time is substituting for vital developmental necessities like all-round physical motor skills and social and communication skills. We really need national guidelines on technology use for children.”

Extensive Research

More than half of 3-4-year-olds have used a tablet, and one in six have their own device. The kids are spending approximately thirteen more minutes every day online in 2016 compared to 2015. The extensive research has also shown that children who go to school are spending less time watching the television than browsing the internet. However, Ofcom did insist that nine out of ten children do still watch television regularly.

Negative Physiological Effect

Chris McGovern of the Campaign or Real Education said, “What this is indicative of is a growing addiction to digital technology, which is having a negative physiological effect on the brain. The majority of schools encourage children to use digital devices as part of learning, but they are feeding the addiction, and the addiction is then going home. Headteachers have told us that children seem less empathetic and have shorter attention spans than before. Computer literacy is important but it is being used to such an excess that it is having potentially catastrophic consequences.”  While Jane Rumble, Ofcom’s director of market intelligence also commented, “Children’s lives are increasingly digital, with tablets and smartphones commanding more attention than ever. Even so, families are finding time for more traditional activities, such as watching TV together or reading a bedtime story.”

Increasingly Worried

Many experts are becoming increasingly worried about the whole situation. Professor Pat Preedy, who co-leads the Movement for Learning programme, has voiced her concerns, “A lack of balance and intensity of screen time damages children’s physical development, vision and inhibits their communication, language and social interaction. It could be a key factor in the isolation of young people, which can lead to mental health problems and obesity. They might have hundreds of friends online, but real life friends and interaction is actually very limited.”

“Young children need a secure and strong emotional attachment, you do not get that from a machine, you get that from a real person. I am very concerned about the figures, because if they are online so much, they are not moving and playing. And then there are the safety issues of child protection and radicalisation to think about.”

Nature Deficit Disorder

An academic at Sheffield University, Dr Ross Cameron, has highlighted his concern that the number of individuals suffering from ‘nature deficit disorder’ is rising due to the increase in digital technology. He said, “The youngest generation is the most critical – they are engaging with a virtual world rather than a natural world, sitting in front of their mobile phone all day. In the past, they would bat a ball against a wall or go and play in the woods – that is now very rare.”

Support for Overcoming an Internet Addiction

If you are concerned that your child may be suffering from an internet addiction, UKAT can help you. We can offer advice and information, and should you decide to utilise one of our treatment facilities as an older internet addict you can rest assured that these are all designed to be comfortable and will ensure that you are satisfied.

All staff are welcoming and friendly and will make you feel at home. We have access to many treatments, which will be tailored to suit the specific needs of the affected individual. If you require any further information or have any general enquiries, do not hesitate to contact us today and we will be more than happy to assist.

Source:  The under-5s glued to screens for four hours each day: Fears ‘very worrying’ figures are showing that children are becoming online addicts  (Daily Mail)

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