The Lure of the Screen

The growing problem of social media and gaming addiction

  • Dr Thomas Dannhauser

The lure of the screen

Dr. Thomas Dannhauser, consultant psychiatrist at Smart Start Minds, on the growing problem of social media and gaming addiction amongst young people

Why should you care?

Social media and gaming addiction is a real concern that ranges from a "bad habit" to being very serious, affecting a child's life. More and more children are struggling with it, but if you can identify it early then recovery is possible, leave it and the consequences might be longer lasting.

Is It all bad??

No, games and social media can have very positive effects. It only becomes problematic when a child loses control over the amount of lime they spend on it or are affected by the content. Children who have lost control can develop problems with poor sleep, anxiety, depression, poor academic results, loneliness and aggression.

How does it work?

It works in the same way as other well-known addictions like alcoholism. When you look at the brains of people with Internet and gaming addiction, they show the same problematic changes as found in other serious addictions. A child can start losing control because what they play or do online makes them feel better about themselves.

What should you look out tor?

Any child may be affected. At Smart Start Minds we have seen a growing number of teenage boys presenting more serious problems. They are often left unsupervised by their parents who do not always know how much time is spent playing, or which games they are playing.

Losing control of screen time is a problem

True or False?

More true answers indicate increased likelihood of a problem:

  1. They constantly think or talk about the game/internet activity.
  2. Increasingly use it as an escape, whilst doing less other activities and neglecting responsibilities.
  3. Need more time, action or intensity on it to get the same enjoyment.
  4. Feel anxious, irritable or depressed when unable to or prevented from doing it.
  5. Develop problems with relationships, school work, and with controlling the amount of time spent playing or online.

Are you concerned?

You may find these suggestions helpful:

  • Allow your child to play, chat or watch online or television as long as they have read a story or book outside of school that day first.
  • Play whatever game your child is playing to decide about the content, or watch the game on YouTube. You can also search for the age rating of the game.
  • Try to limit their total screen time per day to two hours. That includes all screen time that is not directly related to schoolwork.
  • If you are concerned, speak to a professional that you trust to get their advice.
  • Get in touch
  • Smart Start Minds
  • High Beech House,
  • 8-10 High Beech Road
  • Loughton. IGIO 4BL
  • 020 8191 7111

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