Screen addiction (conference in Lyon): Can we reduce our children’s hyper-connection?

Screens, which are ubiquitous in our daily lives, have become a source of danger to our children. © Depositphotos

Sleep disturbances, school difficulties, isolation, cyberbullying… The pains of hyper-connection to screens are manifold and affect children early or early in life. Many of them are the ones who, in the face of the proliferation of devices, have developed a real addiction, with serious consequences for their health and their school career.

However, there are some simple rules that make it possible to lay the foundations for the early prevention of this addiction. The challenge, on the other hand, is figuring out how to implement it before it’s too late. Presentations by Prof. Dr. Pierre Fourneret, Child Psychiatrist and Vice President of Service in Adolescent Psychopathology and Child Development at HFME in Lyon.

Is screen addiction gaining ground?

There are two factors supporting this progress. The age of exposure to screens, in the first place, is declining. Today it is 3 years, or even 2 and a half years, which was not the case 5-6 years ago. Consumption time, then, continues to increase. The national average for a teen is four hours of screen use per day.

What are the consequences of this exposure?

Besides the implications for sleep or even learning, what’s even more worrisome is the emotional contagion of our teens, connected to “H24.” This emotional contagion, which sees the fears of some contaminating others, now accounts for 50% of the reasons for counseling in our services. It is very clear in real life, that young people have far fewer filters in their virtual lives, and it is ironic to reveal themselves without restrictions on social networks. This creates deep damage.

Addiction begins at an early age

What are the other implications?

In adolescence, there is a strong intolerance to frustration. So attached to their screens, they lose control of time and can’t stop to do their homework or go to bed. This addiction to screens is also a source of conflict with parents. It causes fatigue and affects their sleep which inevitably affects school. In fact, some young people do not hesitate to get up at night to engage with online games, without the knowledge of their parents.

Does addiction start at an early age?

Yeah. Many young children eat breakfast in front of the TV or fall asleep watching nursery rhymes on the screen. The screen, under the guise of a terrifying and even educational aspect, goes above and beyond to replace the beloved game. This creates a problem of emotional attachment to screens from which it will be very difficult to get out.

With the key consequences of early childhood?

This early addiction affects the child’s language and communication development. It hurts his attention: he can’t actually bombard the brain with temptations. He puts himself in the position of multitasking, in the face of constant emotions that generate attention and concentration disorders. Exposure to uncontrolled and potentially violent images can lead to nightmares, sleep disturbances, behavioral disturbances… Creativity is affected too, when a screen replaces Lego or Caplas. When a child is bored, he activates his imagination and manipulates things. When the screen becomes the only outlet, the brain, which is lazy in nature, is considerably less drawn out.

“It’s better to anticipate the rules ahead of time.”

What advice would you give parents who are overwhelmed by this phenomenon?

Already to measure their own practices, because many children act by imitation. Then, very concretely, to check the quality of the images their children encounter and measure the time they spend in front of a screen. The idea is not to prevent, but to set limits. There are tablets and smartphones in every home today. Therefore, it is necessary to establish clear and strict rules of use.

So you recommend adapting to screens, not blocking them?

That would be impossible these days! We have to deal with it, because it is also a tool that we can no longer do without. You can also frame it and get the child to think about using it. This is from an early age. It is better to anticipate the rules early on, because it will be more difficult in adolescence, a period when self-regulation is very complex.

Should parenting first make sense?

Experience shows that tips and tricks usually do not work. It is up to everyone to think about where they want to give the screens and how to frame them. By actually using common sense, but which must be informed.

to know

Screen addiction is at the heart of a conference chaired by Professor Pierre Fourneret, Thursday 12 May at 6:45 pm. The event, co-organised by Crédit Mutuel and MTRL, takes place at the Mariott Hotel in Lyon (Cité internationale) upon registration. It can also be followed in the flow.

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