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Signs That Your Child Is Addicted to Media

by Amy Morin

TV, video games, cell phones, computers and other electronic devices offer children constant media access, which can place them at-risk for developing an addiction to media. Children spend an average of seven hours per day using entertainment media, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Monitor and limit your child's media use to prevent a media addiction. If you see warning signs that your child might be developing an addiction to media, talk to your child's pediatrician.

Mental Health Issues

Children with underlying mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety and attention problems are at a higher risk for developing a media addiction. A study published in "Pediatrics" in January of 2011 found that video game addictions not only increase existing mental health problems, but also can cause new problems to develop. The study concluded that depression, anxiety and social phobia could result from video game addictions. Researchers also found that children with a history of video game addictions experience more ongoing mental health problems, even after resolving their addiction, when compared to children who never developed a video game addiction.

Poor School Performance

Although children often want to use the Internet for educational purposes, the internet can actually contribute to academic problems. Between 8 percent and 12 percent of U.S. children are addicted to the Internet, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The Internet and online gaming can distract children from completing their schoolwork. Too much TV can interfere with healthy sleeping habits. Children with a media addiction are likely to be resistant about going to bed and may have difficulties waking up in time for school, according to MayoClinic.com.

Social Isolation

Children who become addicted to media are likely to become socially isolated. Instead of spending time with friends and family, they spend countless hours behind computer or TV screens. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, reality-based games seem to be especially addicting because they draw children into a "second life" where they often exchange real-life relationships for online interactions. The American Academy of Pediatrics also found that children who become pathological gamers tend to have poorer relationships with their parents.

Behavior Problems

A media addiction is likely to contribute to behavior problems. Children who become addicted to video games tend to choose games that are more violent over time. Playing aggressive games or watching violent media content has been associated with aggressive fantasies and increased aggressive behavior, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Children who watch excessive amounts of TV are more likely to bully their peers. Exposure to video games also increases a child's risk for developing attention problems, according to MayoClinic.com.

About the Author

Amy Morin has been writing about parenting, relationships, health and lifestyle issues since 2009. Her work appears in many print and online publications, including Mom.me and Global Post. Morin works as a clinical therapist and a college psychology instructor. Morin received her Master of Social Work from the University of New England.

Photo Credits

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