While reading, watching TV, and playing video games may seem like a no-brainer, a new study from the University of Utah Health Care could help us change our minds and more purposefully address smart use of phones, tablets, and laptops.
It found that children are being exposed to an increased chance of their own emotional distress this summer, while at preschool and school.
That could lead them to try to sneak online games, use their phone at the house, or even get a ride to school.
“We know that technology in general leads to increased anxiety, depression, and anxiety-related disorders among kids, which may eventually lead to poor health, including early illnesses,” says Carol A. Moore, M.D., professor and chair of Pediatrics at the University of Utah Health Care School of Public Health. “The time is right to make sure that electronic safety precautions are employed in this field.”
Dr. Moore explains that short-term behavior problems, such as anxiety or depression, arise from the social interactions that kids get to see with technology – and the glare of it, in their minds, whether they are interacting with peers, their parents, or their teachers.
Makenna Ireland, M.D., a fifth-grade paraprofessional at Salt Lake City’s McClellan Park and Gardens, agrees that this device munching might make them more likely to feel guilty for misbehaving on their devices.
“Children use iPads, smartphones, laptops, tablets, all of which screen for hours every day,” Dr. Ireland says. “It’s easier for them to use these devices.”
Makenna Ireland says that the levels of their own temper were heightened because of the constant screens. “Kids get irritated when they’re used to constantly checking their device, and they aren’t able to calm themselves down,” she says.
Another study, from a University of Georgia professor, Samondra Primavera, found that kids got more emotional and angry when they heard a parent talking in a child’s ear, and when they were distracted or used a gadget or media device in a child’s presence.
With strong and consistent checks, distracted devices help kids learn what to say, but don’t come off as unwholesome, Dr. Moore says.
She says kids often talk to electronics and media only when it is too stimulating or distracting – and they generally won’t go back to their device.
The new findings are published in Pediatrics. Dr. Moore will be speaking on May 30 at the Pediatric Academic Societies’ 22nd Annual Scientific Meeting in Orlando, Florida.