Parents, you really need to pay attention here. If you are the type of parent who willingly allows your child to use cellphones and tablets all they want, then you might want to rethink your parenting techniques here. Just because your child gets bored or gets angry doesn’t mean that you should always resort to handing them your phone or tablet.

There is substantial research that suggests that excessive screen usage can dramatically damage a child’s brain. And you definitely don’t want that to happen to your child. You always want to make sure that you heed the advice of experts in the field.

Based on recent studies, extended use of mobile devices such as cellphones, tablets, and the like can actually lead to something called Screen Dependency Disorder or SDD for short. And this disorder can bring about an array of symptoms including insomnia, weight gain, back soreness, head pain, and even eye health deficiency. This is all according to a report from SmartParenting.

To add to that, SDD can also trigger some very serious emotional and mental health issues within a child such as anxiety, guilt, and even loneliness.

An expert psychologist and author, Dr. Aric Sigman, was the one who actually spearheaded this study. He said that this disorder is very much familiar with Internet Addiction Disorder.

Based on Sigman’s research, screen addicts can “exhibit dependent, problematic behavior, including withdrawal symptoms, increasing tolerance (for screen use), failure to reduce or stop screen activities, lying about the extent of use, loss of outside interests, and continuation of screen use despite adverse consequences.”

Claudette Avelino-Tandoc, a child development specialist, says that kids as young as 3 or 4 years old can already develop SDD. Avelino-Tandoc says that kids with SDD are likely to grab their devices right at the moment they wake up when they are about to eat, or before they even go to sleep. The expert goes on to say that a lot of kids who suffer from this disorder might also be prone to isolation and mood swings.

It’s advisable that if your child exhibits a lot of the symptoms that have been mentioned here so far, you should seek the professional help of a development pediatrician, says Avelino-Tandoc.

“They should also be alarmed when regular family routine or tasks cannot be performed by the child anymore because he or she cannot be ‘taken out’ from screen time,” she goes on to say. “The parents or caregivers should supply the doctor with their child’s behavior as they have observed at home. He may also have his own set of tests and questions for both the parents and the child.”

There is still a lot of research to be had on the matter but it’s always better for parents to just stay on the safer side of things. There is already enough evidence to suggest the likelihood of some kind of deficiency within a child’s development when they are allowed extended mobile device usage.

According to Dr. Sigman, there are already some studies that show that kids who are inflicted with SDD have “microstructural and volumetric differences in, or abnormalities of, both grey and white matter” in the brain.

To put it simply, one of the potential effects of excessive use of these devices is long-term brain damage, says Avelino-Tandoc. She makes this assertion on the idea of how young brains are easily impressionable through various stimuli. And with excessive usage in just one source of stimulation, it can severely impact a child’s capacity to learn and grow.

She says that a child with SDD is less likely to learn and excel in other aspects of life when they are always stuck on their cellphone screens. It can also severely affect a child’s ability to learn certain skills such as focus, attention, organization, and problem-solving. These are all basic skills that need to be instilled in a child very early on.

Parents are urged to further monitor the phone-usage of their children in a more stringent manner. Yes, children should be exposed to various stimuli and media. However, there is a need to moderate their activities.

Instead of having a child just browse through YouTube when they’re bored, they should be encouraged to draw or write instead. Instead of having a child just play games all day, parents should encourage their children to read books and short stories to further stimulate their brains.

And for a lot of parents, it might be a lot easier said than done. But it needs to be done all the same.

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