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What impact does 'digital addiction' have on the human brain?

FILE - Gadget Use

Staring at a screen has become the new normal, and many people will say they are addicted to their gadgets.

But is being attached to technology a diagnosable condition and is it some sort of "digital drug?"

Researchers are still looking into technology addiction as a clinical diagnosis, but it can have impacts on the brain.

"There's a chemical process that is for sure happening, similar what would happen with a drug. But different in the sense that you're not actually putting any chemicals into the body,” said counselor and therapist Jennifer Ross.

She explained that research shows social media use, playing an online game or other internet usage can trigger your brain to release dopamine, which makes you feel good. She says that is one of the reasons people excessively use technology. But it can also lead to negative side effects.

"Most of us, if we leave our phone at home these days, have a sense of anxiety about not being connected,” added Ross.

A recent study from the University of Illinois links excessive screen time to anxiety and depression.

Ross says it can also disrupt sleep. The concern is not just for adults; it’s for children too and their overall development.

“The more time kids are spending on screens, the less time they're out using their imagination, running around outside and spending time with friends."

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children under 18 months old do not have any screen time.

For children ages 18 months to 2 years old, technology usage should be limited and with parental supervision only.

Up to an hour of screen time per day is recommended for children 2 to 5 years old.

And for children ages 6 and older, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents put consistent limitations on technology usage.

As for adults, Ross says self-regulation is the key as more research is being done to look into the overall impacts of excessive screen time.

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