digital addiction in children

A recent study developed a new tool to assess and validate the risk of digital addiction in children.

Digital devices (tablets, smartphones, game consoles) play an important role in all aspects of a person’s life. Many use digital devices for interacting with others, entertainment, or education. According to several studies, children have begun to use digital devices at a very young age to play video games or engage in social media platforms. These studies suggest that there is a growing need for developing tools to assess the risk of digital addiction in children.

In a study, published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, researchers aimed to develop a tool to assess digital addiction in children. The study recruited over 800 children, aged between nine and twelve years old from across Lebanon. Researchers developed the Digital Addiction Scale for Children (DASC) to evaluate the behaviours of children in association with their usage of digital devices. The DASC is a self-reporting survey, comprising twenty five items, in which the participants will provide a response to each question or statement on their own and without interference. The Revised Child Anxiety and Depression Scale (RCADS-30) was used to validate the DASC.

The researchers based the DASC on the nine diagnostic criteria for addiction and mapped the tool onto the six core addiction criteria such as pre-occupation, tolerance, withdrawal, mood modification, conflict, and relapse. The study also included three additional criteria: problems, deception, and displacement. The problems criterion refers to life necessities that can become uncontrollable because of digital addiction such as sleep, conflicts with parents, managing money, or academic achievement. Deception involves how children will lie to their parents about their activities and the amount of time spent on their digital devices. Displacement is when parents feel disconnected to their children, leading to compromising the family unit.

The study reported that over twelve percent of the participants are at risk of addiction to digital devices. The consistency of the results suggests that DASC is a valid and reliable instrument to evaluate the risk of digital addiction in children. According to Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Wiederhold, clinicians may consider DASC as a useful assessment tool to identify patients at risk of problematic internet use and internet gaming disorder and address issues that may negatively affect child and adolescent health and wellbeing. Researchers conclude the DASC will help stimulate further research that concerns children from different cultural and contextual settings.

 

Written by Ranjani Sabarinathan, MSc

References:

Hawi NS, Samaha M, and Griffiths MD. (2019). The Digital Addiction Scale for Children: Development and Validation. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2019.0132

New tool to assess digital addiction in children. (2019, December 9). Retrieved from https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-12/mali-nt120919.php

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