Many parents worry if their kids are addicted to screen time. A study suggests that it’s about more than duration.

It’s a familiar sight in many families: young children bent over a screen for hours, texting or gaming, lost in a digital world.

A recent study suggests that, how children use the devices, not how much time they spend on them, is the strongest predictor of emotional or social problems connected with screen addiction.

“Typically, researchers and clinicians quantify or consider the amount of screen time as of paramount importance in determining what is normal or not normal or healthy or unhealthy,” says lead author Sarah Domoff.

“Our study has demonstrated that there is more to it than number of hours. What matters most is whether screen use causes problems in other areas of life or has become an all-consuming activity.”

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Domoff says that, to her knowledge, this is the first tool in the United States that measures screen media addiction in children ages four to 11 years old.

Related: How screen time affects children’s sleep

Warning signs of kids addicted to screen time

Some of the warning signs include:

  • If screen time interferes with daily activities
  • Causes conflict for the child or in the family
  • Is the only activity that brings the child joy.

Kids who use media in unhealthy ways have problems with relationships, conduct and other emotional symptoms, Domoff says.

The study didn’t examine whether the emotional and behaviour problems or the media addiction came first.

Source: University of Michigan via www.sciencedaily.com

Related: Study: Smartphone addiction creates an imbalance in brain

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