Games on digital devices 'trigger fight or flight reaction in kids'
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Children who play on iPads experience a ‘fight or flight’ chemical reaction which then unsettles them, psychologists have warned.
Scientists said the ‘imaginary fear’ experienced by children when they play games on digital devices makes the body react like it would to physical fear, meaning ‘energy is sent to the muscles’.
They said the reaction is similar to the body preparing to ‘run away from a lion’, including increased blood flow to the legs, but rather than expend this energy children will stay ‘sitting on the sofa’.
Clinical psychologist Shona Goodall from the University of Sheffield cited anecdotal evidence of children being more difficult to control after prolonged periods spent on tablets or computers.
Speaking on the set of Channel 4 show The Secret Life of Four and Five Year Olds, which returns next month, she said: ‘A lot of people report to me... that when the children come off the iPad, if they’ve been on for a prolonged period of time... you will get slightly irritable behaviours afterwards, and [they] struggle to settle.’
Dr Sam Wass, who has written a research paper on the issue, added: ‘When a child is playing an iPad game their body is reacting to imagined danger as if it is real danger. So the same set of responses kick in.’