The impact of “internet addiction” on children’s physical, cognitive, social and emotional development is hotly debated. How do we measure it? What actually is “internet addiction”? The explosion in the number of hours we are spending glued to our screens is relatively recent so there aren’t yet many conclusive research studies out there to guide us as to the impact it is having on our children.
This review by Common Sense Media aims to give a balanced view of the current situation and covers questions around concentration levels and productivity, empathy and relationships, and problematic media use.
Even though we don’t have all the facts yet they make the point at the end of the review that we can be taking action already: “Even as we wait for additional research to fill in the major knowledge gaps, we should not feel paralyzed. Media multitasking is distracting and fatiguing, so how can we instill good habits in children from an early age, so that they can grow up using technology and media in intentional and not reflexive ways? How can we help parents gain control over their own device usage and mentor their children about integrating technology into their lives in thoughtful and productive ways? What do media producers need to know to design products and media that are ethical and that don’t unfairly take advantage of children’s developing cognitive and self-regulation abilities? We should look for ways to use technology to promote creativity, collaboration, and identity in ways that support well-being.”
This is a US focused review but parents based in other countries will be able to recognise traits and will find the questions posed and recommendations offered of relevance.