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CMU research seeks to identify electronic screen addiction in kids

Paul Mayne

Researchers at Central Michigan University have developed a rubric for recognizing electronic device addiction in children.

Researchers behind the rubric say it will help clinicians work with parents to identify when screen time has become a problem.

Dr. Sarah Domoff is a professor who conducted the research behind the rubric. She said previous studies looked at media addiction merely based on time spent in front of devices.

“What really matters is if the media use or mobile device use is getting in the way of the child's functioning. For example it’s not necessarily how much time the child uses screen media it’s what kind of problems it may be causing in their lives.”

Domoff said throughout her work she found parents didn’t know when to worry about screen time.

“So the goal with this measure is to provide it to clinicians who can give this measure to parents and see if their child scores high. If so I think there is a variety of things we can do to help parents.”

Domoff said the main red flags are when children are losing sleep or don’t complete other tasks because they are stuck in front of their screens. Clinicians will be able to work with parents if a problem is identified to reduce screen time in a healthy way.

She said this is the first research to explore the impacts of negative media use on young children.

The questionnaire will be published as part of a research paper in Psychology of Popular Media Culture.