Despite the growing anecdotal evidence that children and young people in the West spend far too much time in front of their game consoles and video media screens, little, if anything is being done to either assess the risks or adopt a policy of discretionary caution in the mean time. A 2013 policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics cited the following alarming statistics from a Kaiser Family Foundation study in 2010: “The average 8 to 10-year-old spends nearly eight hours a day with a variety of different media, and older children and teenagers spend more than 11 hours per day.”
11 hours of electronic stimuli per day as opposed to thousands of years of human evolution based upon physical activity, mental imagination skills and social interactions must surely have an affect on individuals and society of some kind mustn’t it?
Studies Reveal Very Real Dangers
According to a recent study reported in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, teenagers who devote hours a day to playing violent video games or watching violent shows on television have been found to be more aggressive in general and more likely to fight with their peers and get into troubles at school.
Another aspect of sedentary video game and electronic media addiction is the correlation between lack of physical activity and childhood and youth obesity. Factor in high fat and high sugar fast and convenience foods to this couch-bound youth cocktail and it doesn’t take a degree in rocket science to start worrying about the future health of the nation’s young people.
Texting could well be the next national epidemic, with half of US teenagers sending 50 or more text messages a day and those aged 13 through 17 averaging 3,364 texts a month, according to a 2012 study by Amanda Lenhart of the Pew Research Center.
Only China has taken the step to label the condition of internet addiction an actual clinical disorder. Not surprisingly, they have also taken a somewhat extreme approach to treatment of the individual and their affliction. For those interested, next week the US station PBS will be airing a documentary called Web Junky on Daxing Boot Camp, a center in Beijing that offers treatment to young addicts.
Gladstones Clinic is well aware of the risks and dangers of addiction to electronic media. To be fair, adults are equally at risk of addiction as young persons, but young people have had less time to establish their identities and so their risks may well be greater.