Internet Addiction

The Mom was at her wit’s end. Her 2-year-old was not talking. All he wanted to do was scroll through YouTube on her phone all day long. If she took away the phone, he threw a fit. At 2, he spoke no words. He was in his own bubble, not communicating, not interacting with anyone.

We also see this kind of screen fixation with some teens and tweens at Dysolve®. On the one hand, they have difficulty communicating in person; on the other, they spend hours and hours playing on the computer or watching videos. When they can’t function as students and don’t participate in home life, it’s a problem.

“Internet addiction” is still poorly understood. But at Dysolve®, we see its connection with language. Real-life communication is essential for language development. Language is also needed to organize our thoughts. How can thoughts be connected and coherent when the brain is bombarded constantly by disconnected fragments of video clips?

Even worse, this disconnected, rapid-fire overstimulation can restructure the developing brain in undesired ways. Language and cognitive development require children to increase their focus and attention. They need time to relate thoughts, to think. Online surfing works against this development.

Some parents ask, Did their children’s language problems cause them to turn to the screen? Or did their online fixation hurt their language development? What we do know for certain is that the situation sets up a vicious cycle, with one problem fueling the other.

The way to break this vicious cycle is to restructure home life to reduce the child’s screen time and to attend to language problems immediately.