Dr. Mary McAteer, from Cornerstone Family Physicians in Indianapolis, Indiana, shares some thoughts on media and internet addiction in children.  In addition, she has provided a valuable resource for families to use when creating their plan for dealing with and protecting against media addiction at home.

Has your family created a “Media Plan”?  How did it work out?  We always love to hear from our members as the information you share could help another family in your same shoes.  Use the comments section below to contribute!

“Is Internet Addiction a Risk for Our Young Children?

It is difficult to understand the impact of digital devices on the development of our children and its impact on family function.  Most of it seems really good – being able to communicate when family members are far away, send pictures and videos to connect more fully, look up useful information for learning, play educational games, and entertain us during uncomfortable times.

Researchers are trying to put together the impact from toddlers to adolescence, as fast as the technology changes.  There is a new code for Internet Addiction for adults within the DSM-V, the manual to help formulate psychiatric diagnosis.  It is necessary to demonstrate 4 symptom components:  excessive use of electronic media, withdrawal when removed, tolerance, and negative repercussions.  Clinical scientists have identified these symptoms in teenagers ages 13-18 years.

We pediatricians are interested in how early these symptoms could possibly be detected. Researchers asked parents of toddlers, with a mean age of 2.5 years, if they were seeing similar symptoms.  Parents reported that the majority of their toddlers knew how to use at least one household digital device, to the point of being able to unlock the device and navigate to the child’s favorite apps.  If a child were allowed to use at will, would that constitute excessive use? Parents stated they have witnessed their child throw a fit when the device is taken away, lasting on average 10 minutes.  Once the child has interacted with a game, they want more of it, consistent with tolerance symptoms.  Negative repercussions can be when the child has a prolonged, severely upset tantrum over the removal of the device.

To approach the issue carefully, please visit the link below for some common sense, pediatrician recommended advice:


Each family will need to develop their own plan.  Sharing your ideas may help you design the safest, developmentally beneficial plan for your child.”