Ludhiana: Experts corelate spike in mental health issues among kids to smartphone addiction

Even as gaming addiction has claimed several children’s lives across the country, a study has found that smartphone addiction is to blame for a spike in mental health and behavioural issues among kids
A Ludhiana-based expert said that parents must monitor the internet usage of their kids, (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
A Ludhiana-based expert said that parents must monitor the internet usage of their kids, (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Published on Oct 09, 2021 11:52 PM IST
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ByMohit Khanna, Ludhiana

Even as gaming addiction has claimed several children’s lives across the country, a study has found that smartphone addiction is to blame for a spike in mental health and behavioural issues among kids, with the tiny tots going as far as banging their skulls against the walls!

The coronavirus pandemic, which has shifted our lives from real to virtual, have not helped matters one bit. Ludhiana-based experts say addiction to mobile phones is resulting in increased anger among children and resulting in serious psychological issues. They said that most children turning for treatment are not willing to attend physical classes anymore, and incidents of aggressive and violent behaviour has increased among them.

Calling the pandemic the “tragedy of the century”, Dr Ranjive Mahajan, professor and head of psychiatry at Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMC&H), said, “The Covid pandemic has left an everlasting impact on physical and mental health of people across the world. In fact, the change in lifestyle that people have been accustomed to for centuries has proven detrimental. The sudden change can trigger serious mental illnesses like depression or anxiety in previously healthy people.”

“This rapid transition to digital solutions during the pandemic has exacerbated problems for children’s online safety as well. Children spend more time on learning, socialising and entertainment on virtual platforms, which makes them more vulnerable to online abuse and exploitation. Besides, the transition to online learning due to the pandemic has affected not only the quality of education, but also interpersonal relations between children. Internet bullying, which was already a problem before, has intensified. The limited extracurricular activities has hindered personality development of the youth, which has sown the seeds for future mental illnesses,” Dr Mahajan added.

Dr Tarlochan Singh, senior psychologist and HOD of behavioural health at Hunjan Hospital, said that he is currently counselling six children who are addicted to their mobile phones and surfing the internet.

“They turn angry and in some cases violent, if their mobile phone is confiscated. In two such cases, the children had smashed their hand against the wall and ended up fracturing it, as their parents took their smartphone from them and asked them to participate in physical and creative activities,” said Dr Tarlochan.

Dr Rupesh Chaudhary, professor at DMC&H, highlights that levels of anxiety, fear, isolation, uncertainty and emotional distress have also increased. “Shutting down of schools and shifting of traditional classrooms to digital platforms increased learning inequality among children and pushed a large number of children out of school due to the digital divide— the gap between those who have access to the internet and technology at home and those who do not”, Dr Chaudhary adds.

Dr Leenu Gupta, consultant neurologist at Deep Hospital, Ludhiana, “Increase in screen time is leading to behavioural disorders among children of all ages. These disorders cause depressive symptoms, decreased concentration and poor academic performance. Unsupervised smartphone/laptop usage is increasing among children. Children with working parents usually stay at home all by themselves and while parents have allowed their children increased access to the internet for online classes, they have unrestrictedly started engaging in other internet activities such as adult content and violent gaming, which are having serious repercussions on their mental health.”

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Friday, December 03, 2021