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Is your child a screen time junkie? How the attachment to technology is affecting your child's brain

Posted: 6:00 AM, Jun 01, 2017
Updated: 2017-06-01 10:38:57Z

With the school year coming to an end, many children will be spending more time playing games on smartphones and tablets this summer. They are an easy distraction but one doctor said they can be dangerous too.

Psychiatrist Dr. David Rosenberg shared his research with our Scripps sister station in Detroit on what kids' brains look like on electronics.

Stunning results after researchers look at effects of cell phones on kids

Dr. Rosenberg tested two children for tablet addiction. The kids were hooked up to sensors. Rosenberg found the tablet was much more stimulating than other activities and that the children’s moods changed.

Psychologist Dr. Preeya Taormina also took part in the experiment. She said “games like this stimulate the reward center of the brain… it causes a release of neurotransmitters that make you feel better, make you feel awake.”

Dr. Rosenberg said once a child gets a digital high, they’ll try to get that feeling regularly, then it becomes a habit that can do some scary things. He said a brain hooked on the technology looks like a brain hooked on heroin, “overall the disruption in the brain network looks pretty similar.”

So what can you do if you think your child may be a screen time junkie?

We asked Sara Dewitt with PBS Kids for some advice.

“Find something that really meets the kid’s interest that’s going to be the most educational experience for them. Look at your schedule, think about what’s the best time for the family to have screen time … then if you talk to your child about what they played and what they watched, their learning is going to be even greater," she said

Dewitt also recommended that parents log on to commonsensemedia.org , “that helps parents get through all the noise, find things that are age appropriate for their children and give them a little information about what’s in this content.”