Internet Gaming Disorder & Addiction, Video Games

Can digital media and gaming be a poison to the brain?

By Andrew Doan, MPH, MD, PhD

Dr. Paracelsus, a physician in the 1500s and the father of toxicology, stated “All things are poison and nothing is without poison; only the dose makes a thing not a poison.” This means water, air, and even digital media and gaming can be toxins in high doses.

Cris Rowan, Dr. Hilarie Cash, and I looked at the research literature and recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and Canadian Pediatric Society to develop the following recommendations for screen time in kids. Screen time can be good and it can be bad. I break it up into digital veggies VS. digital sugars. The following chart presents guidelines for different ages.

If the child exhibits symptoms of addictive play with screens (see, then abstinence is necessary until the addictive behavior is addressed.

If your family is over-using digital sugars currently, then try a detox or fast from digital sugars. If you see improvement in attitudes, behaviors, and relationships, then you will know that the screens with digital sugars were the problem! In medicine, if we see temporality between the removal of a factor (e.g. digital sugars) and an undesirable symptom or behavior, then there is a significant chance the factor was the problem. After the detox or fast, your family may decide to stay completely digital-sugar-free or implement the following guidelines for the kids.

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