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Gadgets Addiction and How Children Get It

Adults may spend their time how they want. After completing their duties, they are allowed to watch Netflix, go to a workout, play online casino games, or just scroll their Instagram feed. But children cannot manage their time themselves, and they can get addicted to gadgets. Here’s how this problem appears.

How to Understand if a Child Has an Addiction?

When it comes to gadgets, you can’t rely on a child’s conscience. Impulsivity is inherent in children. The brain areas responsible for self-control are fully developed by about 17-20 years old. Until this moment, it’s extremely difficult for a child to give up momentary pleasure for the sake of a future good, much less an abstract good. During this period, the responsibility lies with the parents to decide when and for how long the child will play with the smartphone.


If a child spends much time in front of a screen, it doesn’t mean that he has developed an addiction to gadgets. After all, we don’t think our kids are addicted to their favorite toys, like cars or dolls. A child may be addicted to a game or watching cartoons. In times of stress – for example, if adults are fighting – some children “hide” in their smartphone. It seems to them the only quiet and safe place. These are all normal behaviors.


It’s worth being careful if the child:

  • Lost interest in all other activities and toys.
  • Has stopped communicating and playing with peers.
  • Has begun to experience regular problems with sleep.
  • Reacts violently to requests to turn off the phone – screams, cries and scandals.
  • Becomes gloomy and irritable without his phone, and withdraws into himself.
  • Won’t part with his smartphone anywhere, even on a walk, family dinner or in the bathroom.

Where Gadget Addiction Comes From

“Ban the smartphone, and there won’t be any addiction!” – That’s the reasoning of many moms and dads. But this approach is fundamentally wrong. You can take away the gadget at the first signs of addiction, but it won’t solve the problem. After some time, the child may develop another addiction – to alcohol, nicotine, psychoactive substances or even sweets. Because the tendency to addiction doesn’t come out of nowhere – it has specific psychological and physiological reasons.


Physiologically, addiction is caused by two types of malfunctions in the brain:

  • A malfunction in the limbic system. It’s responsible for emotions and communication. Children whose limbic system malfunctions have difficulty communicating with people, and they find it easier to learn about the world through technology. Such children often become highly skilled IT professionals.
  • Failure of the frontal lobes. This part of the brain is also responsible for the inhibition of emotional impulses, the ability to plan and follow rules. For example, we don’t eat the whole cake, knowing that it will probably be bad, and we will not fight with the boss who criticizes our work. All of this is the work of the frontal lobes. Problems with them cause the child to be unable to make a plan and follow it, they are unable to say to themselves, “I’ll play later.”


Both aren’t pathology, but personal characteristics. Their upbringing, mode or work with the psychotherapist corrects them.


But addiction also develops because of external factors:

  • Parents themselves are addicted to technology. Children copy adults, and if a child sees that parents talk little and spend all their free time with a phone in his hand, he will consider this the only possible behavior. In families where mom and dad only use the smartphone for business, children are less likely to become addicted to gadgets. Adults show them by example that tablets and smartphones are not that interesting, but movies, talking, walking, reading, and hobbies are much more exciting.
  • Gadgets are completely forbidden in the family. This is the other extreme. Children are attracted to everything forbidden: closed doors, things that should never be touched, topics the family doesn’t talk about. If you forbid children to touch a smartphone, it becomes more appealing.
  • Conflicts in the family. If the family quarrels constantly, the child will seek an escape from stress in gadgets.
  • Low self-esteem. Both games and social networks allow us to quickly and easily get praise, to feel like a hero. Likes, comments, and small victories boost self-esteem. And children who lack recognition in real life are quickly hooked on this simple source of approval.
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