Source: Max Pixel, Creative Commons
“IT’S DIGITAL HEROIN: HOW SCREENS TURN KIDS INTO PSYCHOTIC JUNKIES.”
That’s the dramatic headline screaming across a New York Post article, by a Dr. Nicholas Kardaras (2016), which many readers sent to me shortly after it was first published. Oh my goodness, a doctor is saying this. I did an online search and found no peer-reviewed articles by Dr Kardaris on gaming, or screens, or addiction or, for that matter anything else. But still, he is a doctor. And, by golly, a headline like that does get attention and it may help him sell his book, titled Glow Kids: How screen addiction is hijacking our kids—and how to break the trance.
In the article, Kardaris claims, “We now know that those iPads, smartphones and Xboxes are a form of digital drug. Recent brain imaging research is showing that they affect the brain’s frontal cortex — which controls executive functioning, including impulse control — in exactly the same way that cocaine does.” Although he attributes these horrendous effects to all sorts of screen use, he particularly singles out video gaming, when he says: “That’s right—your kid’s brain on Minecraft looks like a brain on drugs.”
You can find many similar scare headlines and articles elsewhere in the popular media, including even some here at Psychology Today. What seem to be most frightening to parents, and appealing to journalist and others trying to grab readers’ attention, are…