More and more people are handing a child their tablet or smartphone as a simple solution for temper tantrums and boredom.

But, it turns out that this “screen time” is creating mental and behavioral problems in kids. Some of them break things, some of them cry, and some of them even threaten suicide.

Screen Dependency Disorder: Excessive Screen Time Explained

There is mounting evidence that suggests that young kids are showing addictive behavior, mostly due to unregulated screen time.

Children`s brains are prone to notable changes in structure and connectivity which can lead to a screen dependency disorder.  Other classifications of this disorder include:

  • Compulsive internet use
  • Pathological video game use
  • Video game addiction
  • Internet addiction disorders
  • Internet gaming disorder
  • Mobile phone dependence
  • Social network site addiction
  • Facebook addiction
  • Problematic internet use
  • Pathological technology use
  • Online game addiction

“‘Addiction’ is a term increasingly used to describe the growing number of children engaging in a variety of different screen activities in a dependent, problematic manner,” psychologist Dr. Aric Sigman writes in a research paper published in the Journal of the International Child Neurology Association.

8 Major Symptoms of a Screen Dependency Disorder

  1. Failure to reduce or stop screen activities
  2. Loss of outside interests
  3. Preoccupation
  4. Withdrawal symptoms
  5. Increasing tolerance
  6. Continuation despite negative consequences
  7. Lying about extent of use
  8. Use to escape adverse moods

How Prevalent Is Screen Dependency Disorder Among Kids?

One 2015 study published in Behavioral Sciences (Basel) found that 12 percent of young American adolescent gamers to be “pathological video-gamers.” While playing video games doesn’t require any chemical substances,  it does lead to addiction-like symptoms.

For Dr. George Lynn, a Seattle-based psychotherapist, up to 80% of his patients` problems are result of excessive use of social media, watching too many online videos, or too much gaming. Consequently, Dr. Lynn is witnessing “a personality syndrome that comes from basically unbridled, uncontrolled use of recreational use of screen media during the day and at night.”[

“Most doctors, family doctors, even psychiatric practitioners are not hip to the obvious fact that a kid might be only getting two to three hours of sleep at night if that,” says Dr. Lynn. “And that causes personality problems.”