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Video game, smartphone addiction in children could lead to psychotic episodes



Children addicted to technological gadgets such as mobile phones and iPads are at risk of suffering psychotic episodes later in life, according to new research published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Researchers discovered that excessive use of smartphones and social media in adolescence could make the brain more susceptible to delusions, hallucinations, and ‘bizarre ideas’ by the time one reaches the age of 23.

Researchers believe that the technology itself might not be the cause of the issue but a child’s addiction to the devices could be a sign that they are susceptible to mental illness.

“Higher media use and mental health problems appear to share risk factors, such as parental mental health problems, loneliness, bullying and parent-child relational problems,” the team behind the study said.

How did the researchers derive this conclusion?

Researchers at McGill University in Canada collected and analysed data from 1,226 participants born between 1997 and 1998. The participants were asked multiple questions to discern if they had undergone periods of persecutory ideations, bizarre experiences, and perceptual abnormalities

Here are some of the questions asked by the researchers:

  • Have you ever felt as if people seem to drop hints about you or say things with a double meaning?
  • Have you ever felt as if the thoughts in your head are not your own?
  • Have you ever heard voices when you are alone?

Video games linked to higher levels of psychotic experiences

The researchers noticed that playing video games during adolescence could cause 3-7% higher levels of psychotic experiences.

“Trajectories of higher video gaming and increasing-then-decreasing (curved) computer use during adolescence were associated with higher levels of psychotic experiences at age 23 years,” the study read.

They also found that internet use is more strongly associated with depression than video gaming or television viewing. 

Also read:  Using smartphone for over 4 hours a day linked to high stress, suicidal thoughts: Study 

What is the solution?

The research team said that suddenly restricting screen time could be more harmful than helpful. Instead, parents should understand why children are addicted to devices and find activities to replace screen time. 


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