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Screens and Social Networks – Digital Heroin
Screen addiction and social media addiction have become something so mundane and “normal” that we don’t even notice them anymore. Parents appear to have become completely immune to and tolerant of their children’s addictive behaviour. Recent research shows that adolescents and children spend an average of about 5-6 hours a day just interacting with a phone screen. In the U.S., the average in 2019 was 7 hours and 22 minutes. If other digital media are added, the time increases to 11 hours and more. This means that the average 15-year-old spends 2,190 hours staring at the phone in one year (that is, 91 days or three months, day and night). If we add other screens, we get some truly shocking data – 4,015 hours and more are spent looking at different screens, which means 167 effective days (24 hours a day) annually – approximately more than five months.
With the introduction of social networks, various forms of mental distress and illnesses such as anxiety, depression, self-harm, aggression, apathy, life passivity, lack of interest, fatigue, eating disorders, sleep disorders, chemical and non-chemical addictions, non-empathy, lack of meaning in life and suicides, have increased substantially. Among children, afflictions such as attention deficit disorders (ADHD), hyperactivity, stubbornness and disregard for educational authorities, speech problems, reduced cognitive abilities, lack of independence, obesity, reduced coordination and physical abilities, intolerance, and nervousness are increasingly common. The findings even suggest that the consequences of children's exposure to screens are identical to some autism spectrum disorders.
Comparative analysis of recent scientific research through the analytical-synthetic method proves the markedly negative consequences of the use of screens and social networks on children's brains, cognitive abilities, creativity, development of their identity, their further life success, mental health and overall development. Terms such as “digital heroin” and “digital cocaine” are gaining ground in the world. A great deal of research examining the functioning and development of children’s brains comes to the same conclusions: screens have an almost identical effect on the brain in childhood as hard drugs.