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Source: The post is based on the article “Yes, Kids Are Born Digital – Where they need adult help is in fighting digital addiction. Because the neurochemistry of excessive smartphone usage is the same as that of narcotic drugs” published in The Times of India on 6th May 2023.
Syllabus: GS 2 – Issues Related to Children
Relevance: issue associated with use of mobile phones by children
News: Tim Cook, CEO of Apple who recently visited India, advised parents to limit the screen time for children. Even various surveys on Indian children show alarming findings.
What are the findings of various surveys on the use of mobile phones by Indian children?
A survey by Saurashtra University in Rajkot finds that 92% students prefer playing mobile games over playing outside and 78% students are habituated to having their phone while having meals.
Another survey finds that nearly 55% of parents admit that their children aged 9-13 have access to a smartphone throughout the day.
As per the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, 24% of children use smartphones while they are in bed, which increases with age and 37% of children frequently experience reduced levels of concentration due to smartphone use.
What are the concerns with children using smartphones?
Science has found that these phones have the same effects on the brain like other addictive substances such as drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol.
Excessive use of phones also causes bad effects like loss of concentration, lethargy, strain on the eyes and wastage of time.
Children have now become addicted to smartphones to get pleasure and enjoyment. Hence, whenever our brain gets any form of pleasure, a neurochemical called dopamine is released in our brain.
Dopamine makes us want more of the same pleasurable experience. This is the same as the dopamine released when getting addicted to narcotic drugs.
Hence, this dopamine is also released in the children causing them to want more and ultimately affecting them and making them feel uncomfortable when phones are taken away.
Furthermore, our brains also become habituated and after some time we develop tolerance to any pleasure. Hence, our addiction no longer gives us pleasure and we are only left with pain.
And if the phone is taken away from us, our pain manifests as anxiety, low motivation, depression, irritability and an inability to feel joy in anything. The same things happen with the children.
What can be the solution for children addicted to phones?
Ideally, a child should be removed from their phone or minimise its usage for 30 days.
Movement, such as exercise or sports, should be a daily part of a child’s life. Only activities that require some effort such as reading, playing an instrument, sport or art should be the activities of choice for relaxation.
This would prevent any kind of addiction and the release of dopamine while enhancing their extracurricular activities and developing their brain in a good way.