Tag Archive for addiction

Are You Addicted to Caffeine?

Is your Starbucks habit actually an addiction? The American Psychiatric Association (APA) lists Caffeine Addiction, more specifically, caffeine intoxication and withdrawal as a mental disorder in the new DSM-V. A few cups coffee or soda everyday may not seem like a big deal, but it impacts your brain and body more than you may think. » Read more..

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What Technology Does to Your Child’s Brain

When I was growing up, we had crayons and a kids menu to keep us occupied while going to restaurants with our parents.  We were mildly engaged, yet also able to let our parents have “adult conversations” without throwing a tantrum or getting bored (often resulting in a tantrum). Now, I have noticed an alarming trend with parents, and every time I see it I can’t help but shake my head in sadness, the trend of toddlers and technology.  Parents who are allowing their three year olds use iPads and smart phones as an overt way to keep them quite, distracted and occupied while in public places, including restaurants. Turns out, I’m not the only one who is noticing the dependence of preschool aged children and technology.  Adweek new article, The Next Great American Consumer; Infants to 3-Year-Olds discusses marketers new target audience, your baby. This article is SHOCKING as Adweek examines advertising aimed at infants to 3 year olds.

 I get it, hungry child + loud environment + boredom = tantrum and embarrassment.  But what are you doing to your child’s brain? A recent study conducted by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center found that 80 percent of kids under the age of 5 use the Internet weekly, and 60 percent of kids 3 and younger are now watching videos online. At an obvious level this teaches kids that they can distract with the use of video games and television; at a much deeper level it allows children to learn to self-sooth through technology rather than using age appropriate coping skills and processing emotions. Does any parent want their child to throw a tantrum in public, of course not, but would you rather know that something is bothering your child rather than shutting them up with an iPad application, I hope so.

I know many of you are very careful about what your child is exposed trough technology.  This is sort of my “soap box” as I am very passionate about the effects of technology on our youth. I speak to many schools and parents about technology and our children.  I really want parents to be educated on the advertising techniques of and the outrageous ages at which they are targeting our kiddos.  Its fascinating tome that children as young as 2 and 3 years old have brand recognition and are influenced by this; thus influencing where your money is being spent and what brands are in your household.  In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that baby’s shouldn’t have ANY time in front of the screen before age 2, why?  Because their brains and neurons are rapidly developing and this can hinder development; not to mention the over-stimulation of what they are exposed to whether it be auditory or visually overwhelming this can impact or hinder brain development.

One of the interesting things we have found from through testing neurotransmitters, is that once a child is expose to video games or television (even for a few minutes) their dopamine and excitatory neurotransmitters increase, and this can actually effect their results.  One of the suggestions we have for parents when testing is to avoid video games and any sort of stimulating activity prior to testing as it may alter their results.  It’s no wonder that children who are exposed to television at a younger age have higher levels of dopamine, and not in a good way; more like they are getting a “fix” from the stimulation and then what we generally see is a decline in behavior as they are craving more- keep in mind dopamine plays a huge role in addiction, much like an addict needing his or her fix from drugs.  Have you ever told your child that they have 5 minute left of a show or computer game and they still meltdown?  Not all of this is neurochemical, but it’s remiss to say that it can partially be to blame especially if neurochemically they are already unbalanced, imagine what a huge spike of dopamine will do…

My suggestion, modification and view technology with your child.  Do not leave children unattended while watching television or using game that have could expose your child to advertising.  I would hate for their first word to be iPad, but I am sure Apple wouldn’t mind…


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