KNOXVILLE — After a medical journal study linked screen time with attention deficit disorder symptoms, a local mom is warning other parents about monitoring screen time.
The study found that kids who heavily used computers and smartphones were two times more likely to develop symptoms. Jody Sherritze says she sees that link everyday.
"How can you build a relationship with a child that is not even looking at you," she said. "I feel like it consumes them and if there are already brain imbalances there I would think that it just takes their focus off other tasks."
Sherritze has one son, Kayden, who is a straight-A student that also has ADHD. Kayden says he sees the potential problems with too much screen time.
“It’s like really fun and that makes it all you want to think about and all you want to do," he said. “If you get off of it then you just keep wanting to go back to it.”
Still, Kayden's mother Jody finds it difficult to create a balance of screen time and outside life. Amanda Gilliam, a child therapist at Thriveworks Counseling says the hyper-focus brought to an ADHD child or teen through digital media can lead to greater difficulty focusing during personal interactions.
"When there’s not that constant engagement, kids lose that ability to focus on what we would want them to be focused on," Gilliam said. “I’ve seen a lot of kids that when they don’t have access to a screen whether it be YouTube or a video game, they don’t know what to do.”
Gilliam recommends limiting screen time as much as parents feel comfortable and are able.
“I think if we could limit that screen time exposure, we would really see a lot of healthier relationships develop with kids their parents and their peers," she said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says parents should limit screen time by assigning media-free times like dinner, or media free locations like the bedroom or car. Sherritze hopes that if more parents agree to limit screen time, doing so will be less of a struggle for those who already are.
"If they would learn to regulate screen time, us parents that do wouldn't feel so bad," she said.