Webs, Weeds and Wisdom | Adult screen time addictions

I’ve always been concerned about screen time for children and teenagers. The research is very clear on the detrimental effects.

ADDICTIVE: It's not just kids who get addicted to games and social media on their phones - adults are succumbing too.

ADDICTIVE: It's not just kids who get addicted to games and social media on their phones - adults are succumbing too.

However, what about adults? Yesterday, as I was about to write an article on a different subject for the paper, I found myself playing the app version of two new games (Quirkle and Othello) that I discovered at a party last weekend, and I was unwilling to quit playing and start writing. When I finished playing, I thought whoa: is this an addiction? This led me to a bit of research on adult screen time.

HOOKED: Online games such as Quirkle pit players against opponents and are programmed to be habit forming.

HOOKED: Online games such as Quirkle pit players against opponents and are programmed to be habit forming.

Yes, addiction is possible, even for us oldies. When something we are doing that’s not useful is preventing us from doing something worthwhile, there’s a problem. Many games are programmed to be habit forming.

Physical issues

Brain changes: As quoted in Psych Today, “Taken together, [studies show] internet addiction is associated with structural and functional changes in brain regions involving emotional processing, executive attention, decision making, and cognitive control.”

Eyes: eye strain and damage to retina.

Body: Often leads to less exercise with its problems of obesity, lethargy, etc.

Sleep: Exposure to light (particularly blue light) and activity from screens before bed affects melatonin levels and can delay or disrupt sleep. Use around bedtime can disrupt sleep and negatively affect performance.

Other problems

Adults should model behaviours they want children to copy. If adults are constantly on phones and tablets, they are not fully engaging with others, including children. According to the paediatrics site, “Parental engagement is critical in the development of children’s emotional and social development, and these distractions may have short- and long-term negative effects.”

OK, I get it. I now have the boxed version of these games and will enjoy more social interaction while playing as well.

GET BOARD: You're better off buying the boxed versions of the games and enjoying some real life social interaction while you play.

GET BOARD: You're better off buying the boxed versions of the games and enjoying some real life social interaction while you play.

This doesn’t mean I will not play computer games, but that I will be more mindful of the time I spend doing so!

Next month I’ll write about what can help us limit our screen time.

Useful sites

  • https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/mental-wealth/201402/gray-matters-too-much-screen-time-damages-the-brain
  • http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/138/5/e20162592
  • https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/most-adults-spend-more-time-on-their-digital-devices-than-they-think/

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