Children as young as three are becoming addicted to mobile phones, harming their development and causing possible long-term damage. We follow some of the youngest cases and hear how our brains are affected by exposure to screens. We also learn how platforms like Snapchat and Facebook are engineered to be hyper-addictive. Three-year-old Ryan doesn’t speak, avoids eye contact, and frequently has screaming fits. His school is so worried about his behavior that they called a doctor, who diagnosed a worrying new condition—digital addiction. Its symptoms are similar to autism, but luckily there’s a cure. After a few days away from the screen, Ryan communicates for the first time in a year. Within a few weeks, his behavior has returned to normal. Today, scientists are convinced that screens affect our brain development. In France, doctors have even issued a warning. How seriously should we take it?
Titles in This Series
Screen Addiction (07:01)
Dr. Anne-Lise Ducanda works with parents of young children who show signs of autism typically due to overexposure to screens. A child's behavior is dramatically impacted by digital technology; some children cannot sleep or eat without using a phone.
Signs of Digital Addiction (04:25)
Approximately 50% of parents give their children phones to distract or comfort them; adults are addicted to their phones. Ducanda saw problem signs in children disappear after the removal of screen exposure.
Modern Parenting (03:37)
A group of parents meets to discuss their digital addictions amd the problems they see im their children’s development. Ducanda and a group of health professionals created COSE to inform the public and demand comprehensive studies which have yet to be carried out in France.
Psychological and Neurological Screen Effects (02:42)
Digital devices have been a part of daily life in America longer than they have in France. An NGO Common Sense study shows children under the age of eight spend more than two hours daily with screens. Dr. Nicholas Kardaras and Dr. Gary Small wrote extensively on the topic of American digital addiction.
Effects of Internet Addiction (01:36)
A Chinese study shows internet addiction negatively impacts public health; the frontal lobe can be weakened by overuse of the dopamine circuit. The way the brain functions when exposed to screens leads to impulsiveness, aggression, addictive behavior, and symptoms similar to autism and bipolar disorder.
Internet Rehab Centers (03:06)
Digital rehab centers are opening in Europe to care for patients fixated on technology and the internet. A man addicted to online gaming explains the financial, social, and mental health burden his obsession causes.
Social Media Addiction (05:53)
The digital economy targets teenagers and young adults. SnapChat is popular due to its addictive reward system which targets the brain's pleasure centers. Psychologist Patricia Greenfield describes a study where they scanned teen’s brains as they viewed images with varying amounts of “likes.”
Creating Addictions (03:10)
Dr. Thomas Dalton Combs studied neuroeconomics and works in Silicon Valley with a team of neuroscientists. Dopamine Labs helps app developers make their software addictive. Dopamine Labs produces apps to help people quit social media and work-out more.
Creators of Social Media (05:40)
Many developers and former social media executives feel guilty for supporting addictive and exploitative technology. Facebook Co-founder Sean Parker and former Facebook Vice President Chamath Palihapitiya share how they refuse to use damaging technology.
Dangers of Screen Time (04:02)
Tech industry advisor and author Nir Eyal states all unsupervised screen time is dangerous for children due to addictive properties. There is a certain protective class of people who should not be allowed access to screens or the internet.
Attending the Waldorf School (04:16)
Most Silicon Valley parents send their children to schools where screens are not allowed. Mark Deem claims it is important for children to have a clean slate of creativity to grow and work in the technology field.
Technology Dangers for Toddlers (04:44)
At the biggest children’s game conference, parents are buying iPhones made for children as young as four, cementing them into lifelong dopamine addiction. At the Paris Apple Store, a journalist wearing a hidden camera discovers employees do not warn her of the dangers of digital addiction for children.
Reversible Brain Damage (02:18)
Ryan has gone a month without screens and his behavior and cognitive abilities greatly improved; he is not cured but is no longer obsessed with the phone. A study was conducted on a group of teens at a five-day nature camp, and found that their social and emotional intelligence increased over a short period of time.
Credits: Digital Addicts (00:34)
Grade: 6-8, 9-12
Digital Addicts (DVD)
Time: 54 Minutes