Experts Warn Screen Time Is 'Digital Heroin' For Kids 5 years ago

Experts Warn Screen Time Is 'Digital Heroin' For Kids

Experts are warning that screen time acts like a digital drug on children's brains, after the latest study revealed that pre-schoolers are spending up to four hours per day staring at a device of some kind.

According to new research by British broadcasting watchdog Ofcom, three and four-year-olds are spending an average of 71 minutes per day (that's eight hours and 18 minutes a week) online.

The figures show the situation is significantly worse than last year, with children now spending an hour and a half more online, playing video games or watching TV than they did in 2015.

Incredibly, the research shows that one third of preschoolers now own their own device, from iPads and tablets to games consoles.

According to Ofcom’s data, YouTube is one of the most popular online destinations for pre-schoolers with 37 per cent regularly watching YouTube videos, typically picking ‘TV content’ such as cartoons and mini-movies.

Now experts are warning that screen time should be strictly limited to less than one hour a day, with US psychotherapist Dr Nicholas Kardaras telling DM that screen time is "digital heroin” for children:

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"Some accuse me of scaremongering for comparing it to addictive substances such as tobacco and drugs. But I have treated patients with crystal meth problems and can tell you it’s harder to get someone over a digital addiction. Unlike illicit drugs, screens are everywhere." Dr Kardaras told the newspaper

‘It’s not just children, though. The average age for a video game addict is 35. But children are particularly at risk from screens because the pre-frontal cortex – our personality centre – doesn’t finish developing until their early 20s."

Four in five mums and dads questioned even believed that being able to access these devices was beneficial to their child's development.

Dr Hayley van Zwanenberg, the clinical director of the Priory's Wellbeing Clinics told The Telegraph:

"Screen time stimulates the 'reward centre' of pre-school children's brain, acting as a digital drug, so they will want more and more of it.

"But young children should be active, investigating life in the real world and having lots of social interaction to develop healthily, physically and mentally."

How long do your pre-schoolers spend staring at a screen each day? Let us know on Twitter @HerFamilydotie.