Meet Screen Addiction – The New Disease On The Block

Screen addiction refers to the addiction that keeps you hooked to a digital screen.

A digital screen refers to the TV, your computer screen or your smartphone.

Many have debated whether there even is such a thing as an actual and legit screen addiction as there is no clinical diagnostic available yet on screen addiction.

Be that as it may, today smartphones have become a common necessity especially for those living in urban areas. Over time, this necessity has become more of an issue, as many children are glued to their smartphone screens.

The culprits behind

Dopamine as the root cause

The root cause that was observed and explained by Dr Kathryn Lorenz, MD is that apparently screen use releases dopamine, a body chemical that makes your body feel pleasure or happiness.

She went on to comment, “Prolonged use of watching TV, video games, scrolling through social media – all of that use acts like a digital drug for our brain.”

Parental attitude as the secondary cause

Most of the time young parents would turn to digital devices to keep their children busy by giving them unlimited access to smartphones at a young age to catch episodes of Paw Patrol or Peppa Pig.

Then what?

Studies have shown that increased screen time has caused problems with a child’s brain development.

Some data from the study by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) have shown that children spending more than 2 hours of screen time scored lower on language and thinking tests.

Whereas those that spend closer to or more than 7 hours showed signs of thinning of the brain’s cortex which is responsible for critical thinking and reasoning.

Tackling the addiction

If you realise that you or someone you know gets anxious when your phone is missing, compelled to check your mobile phone every few minutes, starting to feel FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) or even having trouble concentrating on a task without checking your phone, this sounds like the addiction has already kicked in.

The best course of action is to take a Digital Detox.

Let’s be realistic, a digital detox does not mean that you have to lock your smartphone or tablet in a safe and throw it in the ocean.

This detox is not about completely throwing out, it’s about limiting and controlling screen time.

Here are some things you can try out for yourself and your loved ones.

1. Off with the notifications

Notifications from apps is a sneaky way to get you back on the app to go on scrolling. Especially social media apps like Facebook or Instagram that would occasionally notify you when someone posted something.

This is a way for the developers to bait you into going on the app and then get stuck for hours at a time scrolling through as platforms like Facebook are known to feature content that appeals most to your liking.

Switching off notifications help you not get easily baited to check these apps all the time.

2. Clean up your home screen

Your home screen should only have essentials like messenger apps or email apps. Apart from that, move all other apps like social media or games to the second or third page.

This way, even though you’re still working with the impulse to check your phone often, you are less likely to get on any of the apps that contribute to more screen time.

3. Get “Break” Apps

Ironically, another way for you to get your eyes off the apps is to install another app!

Break apps like Freedom or StayFree can be used to track and limit your time on any app you wish to set it on or all of it in general.

Some of these apps can give you a tracked record of your time on screen and set usage limits to keep you focused on your work or to discipline yourself by not succumbing to your screen addiction.


Whether you’re an adult, youth in your teen years or a child, excessive screen time has been shown to bring more harm than good.

At the end of the day, too much of anything is not good for anyone. Control your screen time and don’t let your smartphone control you.


1) Premier Health. (2019, December 5). Screen Addiction Affects Physical and Mental Health.,Screen%20addiction%20is%20a%20group%20of%20behaviors%20that%20are%20negative,digital%20drug%20for%20our%20brain.

2) Paulus, M. P., Squeglia, L. M., Bagot, K., Jacobus, J., Kuplicki, R., Breslin, F. J., Bodurka, J., Morris, A. S., Thompson, W. K., Bartsch, H., & Tapert, S. F. (2019). Screen media activity and brain structure in youth: Evidence for diverse structural correlation networks from the ABCD study. NeuroImage, 185, 140–153.

3) Parent, Justin BA; Sanders, Wesley MA; Forehand, Rex PhD Youth Screen Time and Behavioral Health Problems, Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: May 2016 – Volume 37 – Issue 4 – p 277-284 doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000272

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