Rise in smartphone addiction among Kashmiri children; Experts warn of a catastrophe

3 years of Covid pandemic led to a 52 percent increase in screen time among children; Excessive Cell Phone Use Can Lead to Brain Damage in Children, Study Finds; Parents need to find alternative ways for children to express their feelings

Srinagar: In today’s digital world, it seems normal that our children are addicted to their phones and search online for various forms of entertainment and information. While parents seem least concerned about the growing trend, child experts believe it’s just as important for children and teens to appropriately manage their screen time before they develop smartphone addiction, which can impact children’s mental health .

The Valley experts highlight a number of negative effects of cell phone addiction and screen-based technology on the psychology of children in Kashmiri. They said that due to mobile addiction, gaming and the widespread use of digital devices, the children and young people face major psychological problems in their daily lives.

They went on to say that early exposure to mobile screens and gambling addiction can increase susceptibility to developing health problems.

An independent study by Kashmir-based psychologist and child expert Muzzafar Ahmed, Danishwar Rasool Dar and Dr. Rameez notes that the invention of cell phones and the particular ways people use the technology have raised questions about whether improper use of it could lead to addiction.

Nearly three years into the COVID-19 pandemic, screen use has increased exponentially, particularly among children, and according to a recent study published in JAMA Paediatrics, the average time children spend staring at screens has gone up since the pandemic began 52 percent increased pandemic.

According to a study conducted by the Kashmir trio, some of the most addictive traits in children are the over-permission of some parents to allow their children to play in order to have some mental peace for a short time, and in isolated cases families who have no one to play with can play outdoors show more interest in mobile gaming to overcome their loneliness.

“Busy Parents or Emotional Dependence: In today’s world, most parents are too busy with their work and business to provide their children with adequate emotional support. Here, children receive emotional support through mobile games and become addicted,” the study states. “The addictive nature of smartphones, immersion and role-playing in many games allows players to create their own character, often taking them into a fantasy world that can be heavily influenced by their actions within it.”

It states: “Players can bond deeply with these characters and the world they live in. Unfortunately, over-attachment to these fantasy worlds can lead to neglect of real-world responsibilities.”

dr Muzzafar Ahmed, Consulting Clinical Psychologist at Composite Regional Center (CRC) Bemina, Srinagar, told KNO when speaking about the side effects of mobile gaming that from a psychological point of view, depression and anxiety have been found to be associated with gambling addiction in children The same results are reported in adults. “Anxiety can gradually be triggered in heavy users when their smartphones are unavailable.”

The study also mentions communication problems or a lack of social commitment, attention and concentration problems, behavioral problems, avoidance of developmental tasks, negative role model problems, habits and disinterest in other areas of life, as well as physical problems from mobile phone games and the consequences of phone addiction as side effects.

Prof. Dr. Reyaz Malik, a prominent pediatrician in the valley, while expressing concern about mobile addiction in children, told KNO that excessive use of mobile screens impairs the child’s brain development.

“There is a significant increase in mobile addiction, not only among children but also among adults, but these smartphones usually leave behind negative aspects of mental health in children because their brains are developing,” said Dr. Malik.

He said there are some signs parents should be aware of that suggest their children are addicted to smartphones, and on the higher side are improper sleep timing, anxiety, anger or aggressive behavior, or a preference for isolation.

dr Malik urged parents, saying that parents should set an example by spending time with their families and children after they finish their daily work.

“Parents should keep their phones off and maintain a family time when talking and being with their children rather than on the phone. There should be no room for screen time during family time. And even if screen time is allowed, exposure should be age-based and calculated,” he added.

Parents should spend a lot of time with their children and always be there emotionally for them and not let them play video games, the study said, referring to the prevention measures.

“Make other physical activities or outdoor sports a part of the child’s life as well. When children exhibit aggressive behavior, as a parent, you need to set boundaries and explain that this type of behavior is unacceptable. Stand firm and show that such behavior has consequences such as time off or missing a favorite activity for the day,” the study reads.

It states that parents should teach their children alternative ways of expressing their feelings – ways that are socially acceptable and should encourage them to pursue other hobbies and interests, particularly sports and other physical activities – (KNO).