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Growing Up Digital: Addicting Factors

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Media entertainment has the potential to benefit today's technology driven generation that is growing up with digital gadgets as a part of every day life. Some television shows may promote positive behavior like teaching manners, but children are also one of the most vulnerable to the abundance of negative messages in the media.

The negative messages could potentially shape the personalities of young children; experts say they could carry that into childhood.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has concerns about the amount of time children spend in front of television screens, computers, the Internet and others forms of screen time.

They recommend limiting quality entertainment media for young children to at most two hours. Some experts say as kids get older the ratio of screen to personal time change and they recommend an even balance.

Grand Island's CCC Psychology Instructor, Wayne Littrell said he's seen first-hand the effects of negative media and real life bad behaviors. "There has been some research that looks at aggressive behavior, and increases in the use of drugs alcohol and relationships that are not very effective with peers and parents," he said.

Littrell said it doesn't stop at violent video games, the list goes on with the potential of adulthood obesity and feelings of isolation.

Aside from video games and violent TV, technology is also highly addicting and some say it's changing the attention span of young adults and teens.

Psychology of Technology expert Dr. Larry Rosen said technology affects the brain. Technology encourages task switching, the vibrations of a cell phone, flashing lights, and e-mail alerts all create a distraction that's somewhat addicting.

The distraction is leaving kids feeling stressed. Dr. Rosen said, "Kids find themselves deluged by chemicals in their brain that are related to anxiety, and the anxiety has to do with feeling like they have to be connected all the time."

Dr. Rosen said experts recommend children and adults take a break from technology once every two hours, because the digital devices overly activate the brain.

According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation young people ages 8-18 spend nearly 8 hours a day, 7 days a week with media.

Some researchers suggest taking some time away from the virtual world to calm the anxiety down.

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