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Environ Res. 2018 Jul;164:149-157. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2018.01.015. Epub 2018 Feb 27.

Adverse physiological and psychological effects of screen time on children and adolescents: Literature review and case study.

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1
Meuhedet Health Services, Jerusalem, Israel. Electronic address: gadilk@gmail.com.

Abstract

A growing body of literature is associating excessive and addictive use of digital media with physical, psychological, social and neurological adverse consequences. Research is focusing more on mobile devices use, and studies suggest that duration, content, after-dark-use, media type and the number of devices are key components determining screen time effects. Physical health effects: excessive screen time is associated with poor sleep and risk factors for cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure, obesity, low HDL cholesterol, poor stress regulation (high sympathetic arousal and cortisol dysregulation), and Insulin Resistance. Other physical health consequences include impaired vision and reduced bone density. Psychological effects: internalizing and externalizing behavior is related to poor sleep. Depressive symptoms and suicidal are associated to screen time induced poor sleep, digital device night use, and mobile phone dependency. ADHD-related behavior was linked to sleep problems, overall screen time, and violent and fast-paced content which activates dopamine and the reward pathways. Early and prolonged exposure to violent content is also linked to risk for antisocial behavior and decreased prosocial behavior. Psychoneurological effects: addictive screen time use decreases social coping and involves craving behavior which resembles substance dependence behavior. Brain structural changes related to cognitive control and emotional regulation are associated with digital media addictive behavior. A case study of a treatment of an ADHD diagnosed 9-year-old boy suggests screen time induced ADHD-related behavior could be inaccurately diagnosed as ADHD. Screen time reduction is effective in decreasing ADHD-related behavior.

CONCLUSIONS:

Components crucial for psychophysiological resilience are none-wandering mind (typical of ADHD-related behavior), good social coping and attachment, and good physical health. Excessive digital media use by children and adolescents appears as a major factor which may hamper the formation of sound psychophysiological resilience.

KEYWORDS:

ADHD; Addiction; Adiposity; Adolescents; Children; Depression; Gaming; Hypertension; Internet; Screen time; Sedentary behavior; Sleep deprivation; Stress

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