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What are the effects of the internet on our children?
Researchers at the University of Leipzig discussed the effects of digital media on children's mental and physical health. In addition to real risks such as internet addiction, they also highlighted positive aspects of the smartphone. Christian Neffe reported on the content in the Leipziger Volkszeitung.
Too little research on electronic media
According to the Saxon Minister of Science Eva-Maria Stange, there is far too little research on electronic media and its effects on children and adolescents. This must change in the future.
At the symposium, researchers from the field of nutritional sciences, medicine, psychiatry, communication sciences, pedagogy, media sciences and computer science discussed.
Neither demonize nor glorify
The pediatrician Wieland Kiess advised a differentiated view. It's not about demonizing digital technologies or blindly submitting to them. He said: "We always have to keep an eye on how the new technology is changing our coexistence, our health and our social development." Speeches emphasized: There is internet addiction with dependencies and consequences for health like other addictions. However, excessive internet consumption is not necessarily addictive.
Role model for parents
According to media researcher Claudia Lampert, the role model function of mothers and fathers is essential. She said: "The media usage of the children begins with the observation of their parents." To judge the child prematurely for its internet consumption is counterproductive. It makes sense if the parents deal honestly with the content and programs that the children are going to and give room for reflected discussions about it.
Mediocre helps children to regulate themselves
Parents should not control the children too much or too little when they use the media. This way children can learn to regulate themselves.
Excessive internet consumption
It was also made clear that every child aged ten and above sits on the smartphone for an average of two to three hours a day. And the researchers believe a connection with excessive internet consumption has been proven in the following complaints: ADHD, chronic fatigue, drop in performance at school and obesity. However, it is not yet clear whether and in what direction this connection is causal. It is conceivable that people with ADHD surf the Internet more often or that overweight people sit in front of the screen more often than do sports - the question of chicken and eggs arises. Internet addiction is often encouraged by other mental health problems.
Maic Masuch from the University of Duisburg Essen showed the positive aspects of computer games in medicine. These would sensitize young cancer patients to certain medications, distract burn victims from pain or enable social interaction in the event of depression.
There is not only the “bad internet”
Wieland Kiess pointed out that diseases have more than one cause. This also applies to internet addiction, which is officially recognized as a disease, according to the World Health Organization. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)