The screens and their braking effect on children's brain development
There is an area in our brain, the prefrontal cortex, which is the one that is in charge of the attention, the concentration, the will and the control of the impulses. It is what distinguishes us from animals, our superior capacity, and is in the front of the brain.
Our desire as parents is for our children to have that area of the brain very developed, to control their impulses, behave well, do not hit, do not eat without control, are sitting in the waiting room of the doctor without moving everywhere .. That depends on the prefrontal cortex.
When a baby is born, it has the whole brain smooth, it is immature. And, as the months go by, as the years go by, the convolutions begin, and the brain begins to mature.
What catches the attention of a baby? Three things: light, sound and movement. A baby when it is born, has no ability to pay attention to anything, unless you suddenly hear a sound or see a light. These stimuli get your attention.
What happens if we introduce the screen in the life of a child?
What is the screen? Light, sound and movement. What do the screens produce in the brain? That the development in that area of the brain is stopped in its tracks. Immaturity occurs and that part of the child's brain does not develop.
Therefore, today we have Ten-year-old children with an immature prefrontal cortex, and consequently we have 10% of children medicated for attention problems and impulsivity in Spain and in the first world, when the data in psychiatry is that ADHD affects between 3% and 4% of the child population.
We are talking that more than twice the estimated number of children with this problem is medicated because their prefrontal cortex has not developed properly. The prefrontal cortex receives stimuli and only calms down when it has a front screen.
How screen addiction works
Another problem that arises as the age advances, especially between ten, twelve, fourteen years, is that social networks come. Let's understand a bit how the brain works: when a person uses cocaine, heroin, alcohol, pornography, has sex, eats chocolate, goes shopping ... feels pleasure, because all this generates pleasure. That pleasure is regulated, mainly, by the hormone of the dopamine that has a high pleasant power, but a high addictive power. What does dopamine do? Think of an addiction, you think you want some drug, then the brain activates, begins to generate dopamine, has a peak at the time of consumption and then has a big slump, the abstinence syndrome. What's going on? That the brain is asking for more and there addictions begin.
What did the programmers discover in Silicon Valley when they created the first social networks? That each Like, that each video, were microchispazos of dopamine. And then they realized that they were going to get the attention of the people and they created programs, applications, that what they do is generate addicts to the screen.
And this is thought, it is not a coincidence. Millions are spent each year to ask scientists how to get attention. What moves the world is no longer oil, it is not even money, it is attention. Who has more time to a person in your application, on your website, in your network ... that person succeeds and that person makes money.
Thus, Businesses today are focused on getting attention either through pornography, through social networks or images. No one is able to get into a social network, for example on Instagram, to look at a 10-second thing, because everything is made for us to get hooked. What's going on? That as all that generates a very powerful surface satisfaction, it is very difficult to disconnect from that.
Social networks, the refuge of young people
Adolescence is a time of change, where everyone raises their lives and says "who am I" and "what will become of me", and "I feel lonely", "my body is changing" ... The brain is looking an escape route, and this has always happened and it has happened to us all, in some it is alcohol, in others reading and in others sports, but the brain leaves that saved. Therefore, whenever my body, my mind, my behavior feels a slump, as that is recorded, your memory will remind you.
Therefore, today young people isolate themselves in those moments of decline in social networks. When something does not work for them, their brain goes to everything has to do with the screen. Young people connect better with a screen and express their emotions better with an emoticon than with a person in the you to you.Proof of this is that we are treating network addiction with the same medication as cocaine addiction because it goes through the same circuit, only that the doses are different.
Marián Rojas-Estapé. Psychiatrist and author of the book How to make good things happen to you