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Tags: children | ADHD | obsessive-compulsive | technology

Are We Using Too Many Gadgets?

Thursday, 29 November 2018 04:34 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Despite the many benefits people enjoy from new technology, too much of a good thing can have negative effects.

One concern is that the constant use of these devices is causing a decline in face-to-face human contact skills — especially among young people.

Although their brains are training to excel in operating technologies, there may be a cost in that they are failing to fine-tune empathy skills and maintain eye contact during conversation.

In a recent study, our UCLA group measured these abilities in teens before and after they attended a nature camp where they were not allowed to use computers or cell phones. In fact, they were restricted from any screen time whatsoever.

After just five days, these 13-year-olds displayed significant improvements in both emotional andsocial intelligence. They were better able to recognize emotional expressions and perceive subtleties of social interactions.

A control group of students who did not attend the camp — and were allowed to use their devices for more than four hours per day — did not show any such changes.

These results indicate that weakened human contact skills from intensive gadget use can return to baseline in a short period of time.

Other research suggests that some people can actually become addicted to technology. In Asia and other parts of the world, intensive rehab programs are helping young people withdraw from video gaming habits that have disrupted their educational and professional lives.

But not all experts agree that people can become addicted to technology. In fact, the latest version of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders classifies these behaviors as a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder rather than addiction.

It is clear, however, that for some the desire to use technology becomes so intense that it interferes with their daily lives. These users often obsess about technology even when they’re not using it.

This can lead to escalation of tech habits and a desire to seek greater and greater thrills — behavior patterns that are very similar to other forms of addiction.

Additional studies have demonstrated a link between screen time in young children and symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Here too, there is controversy as to whether television and computer time worsens attention problems or whether those who suffer from ADHD are simply drawn to the screens.

In response, many experts have recommended zero screen time for children under age 2.

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Despite the many benefits people enjoy from new technology, too much of a good thing can have negative effects.
children, ADHD, obsessive-compulsive, technology
Thursday, 29 November 2018 04:34 PM
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