glow kids
In Glow Kids, Dr. Nicholas Kardaras examines the detrimental effects of technology addiction on the developing brains of young children.

In his new and groundbreaking book, Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction is Hijacking out Kids—and How to Break the Trance, Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, a leading addiction expert, argues that age limits, among other things, are needed when it comes to kids and tech. He looks at how technology has seemingly affected the brains of an entire generation, and even cites research that found that excessive screen exposure can neurologically damage a young person's brain much in the same way that a cocaine addiction can.

"We know that early screen usage is problematic," Dr. Kardaras tells The Fix. "That's when the developing brain is most vulnerable to adverse tech effects. Many tech and Silicon Valley engineers send their kids to non-tech Waldorf schools, where kids are tech-free until at least age 10 or 12." Even Steve Jobs was quoted in the New York Times saying, "We limit how much technology our kids use at home." Screen addiction in adults is one thing, but when we are talking about kids, it's a whole other matter.

© Luz Rojas Kardaras
Dr. Nicholas Kardaras
"I have 9-year-old twin boys," Dr. Kardaras says. "We have been very, very careful with their screen exposure—no tablets, Xbox, or phones. But I've taken the time to explain why to them. They love playing baseball and reading. I tell them that those real-life activities can be diminished if they start playing Minecraft. They get it. They've seen friends become totally hooked to their devices. We do watch some television, older movies and some sports. So far that's seemed to work well."

During his 10 years of clinical research on the subject, Dr. Kardaras discovered while working with teenagers, that they'd found a new form of escape—a new drug, so to speak, in immersive screens. For these kids, "the seductive and addictive pull of the screen has a stronger gravitational pull than real-life experiences. Many prefer the Matrix to the real world," he tells The Fix.

Several brain-imaging studies have backed up his claims, showing gray matter shrinkage or loss of tissue volume for internet/gaming addicts. Quite simply put, kids continuously exposed to tech screens at a young age showed higher rates of substance abuse, stress, poor academics and depression. We all love our gadgets, but limiting them for youngsters makes sense.

"We have heroin addicts writing love letters to their drug," Dr. Kardaras says. "They love the substance on an emotional level, but they are also addicted to it. So these are not mutually exclusive concepts, which I think also apply to tech: people can love their gadgets and still be addicted to them." Especially kids.