Parents’ opinions on the use of mobile phones by children are divided. Some give them access to them, and even buy their own smartphones for a few-year-olds, while others do not accept the use of the phone by their child at all or make it available to them, but rarely and to a very limited extent. While each parent has the right to decide for himself whether his child should or should not use the phone, it is undeniable that the phone has a negative impact on the brain of an adolescent. Digital autism, or what does a smartphone do to a child’s brain? Check!
Digital autism - what is it?
“Digital autism” is not a disease or disorder like “autism”, which is a pervasive developmental disorder according to the International Classification of Diseases ICD-10. This is a colloquial term for the phenomenon that occurs when a child abuses the phone. The mental state and cognitive functioning deteriorate, which affects many aspects of life.
Digital autism should not be confused with the autism spectrum, although the symptoms in both cases may be similar to each other to some extent, hence the name of this problem. It is worth knowing that a characteristic symptom of autism in a child is the difficulty in establishing and maintaining contacts with other people. Problems with functioning in the environment and frequent overstimulation may also indicate autism. If you notice these symptoms in your child, it is worth consulting a psychologist.
How does the phone affect the child's brain?
Using the phone for many hours a day by a child affects its normal functioning. Over time, it begins to encounter more and more difficulties in its life. The term digital autism is used to describe all these problems that arise from the overuse of a smartphone. The following describes the impact of the phone on the brain and life of a child.
Overstimulation and constant fatigue
Spending several hours a day browsing information on the phone, using applications, scrolling Instagram, TikTok or other applications popular among children makes young people lose energy, which makes them feel overtired. Then we talk about the phenomenon of overstimulation, also called overstimulation, i.e. psychophysical overload caused by an excess of stimuli that reach the body. The nervous system simply cannot cope with processing all of them and “closes” to the next one.
Children tend to spend more time looking at photos and videos while browsing the internet on their phones, and less time reading. Therefore, they do not have to think too much and analyze what they have seen, which makes it increasingly difficult for them to think creatively over time.
Problems with concentration and remembering
Assimilation of information from the phone usually does not require much effort, which is why the child has problems with tasks that require concentration. What’s more, during work, he may feel a constant need to use a smartphone, which makes it even more difficult to perform the task entrusted to him and certainly wastes more energy on it.
Difficulties in establishing and maintaining relationships
Although it is not a rule, many children addicted to the phone prefer online contact with their peers, rather than meetings in the real world. Sometimes they also lose the ability to distinguish the real world from the virtual one.
Phone addiction, especially at a young age, has a significant impact on mental health. In addition to the already mentioned difficulties with learning and concentration, there is also a delay in speech and language development, which further hinders the learning process. In addition, the child may have mood swings, become irritable and hyperactive.
How do you cure your child's phone addiction?
If you notice the problems described above in your child and it seems to you that he may be addicted to the phone, which is why he has digital autism, it is a good time to seek help from a specialist. A child psychologist will first of all make sure that the young patient is really abusing technology. When your fears are confirmed, therapy may be necessary.
Remember, however, that getting a child out of addiction in the case of phone addiction will be a long-term process, requiring a lot of involvement of the child himself, as well as those close to him. However, the sooner you notice the problem and try to deal with it, the better results you can achieve and the faster you can reduce the risk of negative consequences.