Report: Too Much Screen Time is Like ‘Digital Heroin' to Kids

Addiction specialist and columnist Nicholas Kardaras wants parents to know "your kid’s brain on Minecraft looks like a brain on drugs," in a new piece published Monday.

Kardaras uses a mother and son as an example in the column to illustrate how problematic excessive screen time can be for childrens’ developing minds, often drawing the parallel to drug addiction.

Kardaras even cites the work of a UCLA neuroscientist, Dr. Peter Whybrow, who calls screens like televisions, iPads and other tablets “electronic cocaine.”

The column says hundreds of clinical studies tie children’s excessive screen use to depression, anxiety, aggression and “psychotic-like features” where kids can lose touch with reality.

The addictions specialist also cites a 2013 Policy Statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and says 8- to 10-year-olds will spend 8 hours a day with different digital devices, with teens spending 11 hours staring at screens. One in three children are now using tablets and phones before they can talks, Kardaras says, citing the report.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though, with Kardaras suggesting that an “extreme digital detox,” one that even removes television, can be last four to six weeks, allows a “hyper-aroused nervous system to reset itself.”

Kardaras suggests honest, open conversations with children about screen time limitations and letting kids know exactly what the parents’ concerns are.

Contact Us