This week a new article published by Psychology Today entitled “Parenting in the Era of Addictive Electronics” puts forward the assumption that ”screen time, particularly the interactive kind acts like a stimulant, not unlike caffeine, amphetamines, or cocaine.” This is not the first article to make such claims, in fact I blogged a New York Post article a few months ago touting the same connections.
While I can get on board with the advice offered to parents in the Psychology Today article (especially #12), it needs to be clear that it is scientifically inaccurate to discuss screen time as analogous to drug addiction. This is a comparison makes a nice headline but these connections are tenuous, blown out of proportion, and only argued by a very small contingency professionals. While the same areas of the brain may be involved when engaging with screens (e.g., playing video games) as shooting heroin, the same is true for a whole host of other activities. This is not an indication of addiction, but rather enjoyment.
If you want to learn more about screen addiction, I suggest checking out the addiction chapter in A Parent’s Guide to Video Games …yes, the focus in this book is #videogames but the underlying mechanisms behind the “screens are heroin” claims are the same.