Frequent Use of Digital Devices to Calm Agitated Children Associated with Increased Emotional Dysregulation - medtigo



Frequent Use of Digital Devices to Calm Agitated Children Associated with Increased Emotional Dysregulation

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According to Science Daily, the rising difficulty of preschoolers in managing their emotions was connected to their increased use of electronic devices such as cell phones and tablets.  

Many parents have been in the following situation: making supper, answering a phone call, or doing errands when their child throws tantrums. It’s tempting to grab a digital device to help a cranky preschooler relax. On the other hand, emerging data suggest that this stress reliever may be linked to more significant behavioral disorders in the future.

According to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics, children (especially males) who relied on electronic devices like smartphones and tablets to deal with unpleasant feelings were more likely to struggle with emotion management as adults.  

While using a mobile device to calm a young child may appear to be a harmless, temporary tool to reduce household stress, lead author Jenny Radesky, M.D., a developmental-behavioral pediatrician at the University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital warns that if it is a regular go-to soothing strategy, there may be long-term consequences.

The use of electronics, particularly in the youngest children, “may displace opportunities for the development of autonomous and alternative self-regulation mechanisms.”  Between August 2018 and January 2020, before the COVID-19 epidemic, 422 parents and their children aged 3-5 participated in the study.

The frequency with which parents and caregivers utilized electronic devices to relax during six months was linked to signs of emotional reactivity or dysregulation.  

Increased dysregulation can manifest as heightened impulsivity, rapid fluctuations in mood or emotion, and rapid swings from sadness to exhilaration. The findings imply that using technology designed to quiet children may have unanticipated emotional implications, especially for young males and children who are already hyperactive, impulsive, and have strong temperaments.  

“Our findings show that using electronic devices to calm angry youngsters may be especially dangerous for those who already struggle with emotional coping abilities,” Radesky noted.  

She observes that the transition from preschool to kindergarten is when challenging behaviors such as tantrums, resistance, and high emotions are more probable. As a result, the appeal of using technology instead of natural parenting may expand.  

Parents and teachers, according to Radesky, can take a vacation from their children’s screen time “if caregivers rapidly and efficiently control children’s bad and troublesome behaviors.” This can deliver a feel-good emotional boost to both parents and children, which may drive them to continue doing what they’re doing.  


Children’s media needs become more sophisticated as they rely on technology to handle challenging behavior. As children and parents use electronic gadgets increases, fewer healthy coping techniques are being taught. 

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