Why has the incidence of virtual autism increased in recent years? Marius Zamfir: "I conducted a parallel study and found THIS!"

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Why has the incidence of virtual autism increased in recent years? Marius Zamfir: "I conducted a parallel study and found THIS!" / PHOTO: freepik.com @freepik
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Why has the incidence of virtual autism increased in recent years? Marius Zamfir: "I conducted a parallel study and found THIS!" / PHOTO: freepik.com @freepik

Clinical psychologist Marius Zamfir highlighted on the show Parents Present, hosted by the editor-in-chief of ParintisiPitici.ro, Loredana Iriciuc, that excessive screen usage is becoming an increasingly common issue among children. Drawing from a longitudinal study conducted on 110 children, Zamfir noted a concerning increase in screen time, from 37% in 2012 to 97% in 2017.



The explanation for this phenomenon was studied in parallel by clinical psychologist Marius Zamfir, a specialist in the human microbiome, and the president of the Association for Child Mental Health. He found that it is linked to the evolution of technology, particularly the emergence of affordable tablets and mobile phones equipped with Android technology, along with the development of 4G networks. This accessibility has transformed screens from fixed devices to portable ones, allowing children to spend more time connected.

"In my study, which is a longitudinal study conducted on 110 children, we started with an incidence in 2012 - the first year of the study - with 37% of diagnosed children spending over 4 - 5 hours/day in front of screens, and by 2017, we reached 97%. It's effectively a progressive increase.

I had to somehow conduct a sort of parallel study to understand what happened. And I discovered that in 2012, the tablet became affordable in Romania, in 2012 the Android phone appeared, and this Android technology on mobile phones and the 4G system emerged.

So, from a fixed screen that we only had in the living room or bedroom, suddenly we have a portable mobile screen anywhere, very easily accessible. And then, it's clear that the time allocated to these screens has increased significantly.

I've always started from the premise that no parent wants harm to their child. The fact that they come to you for an evaluation, the fact that they want therapy, which means very, very high costs, means they care about that child and clearly would have done anything to avoid reaching that point.

That's why we want to run these campaigns to inform parents: leave children in front of screens as little as possible!" said Marius Zamfir on Parents Present, a show by ParintisiPitici.ro.

Marius Zamfir: "These forms of virtual autism can also manifest in adults"

Marius Zamfir pointed out that virtual autism doesn't just affect children; it can also appear in adults in different forms. The expert explains that there are genetic mechanisms involved in this issue, and spending too much time in a certain state can affect an individual's ability to adapt to other activities. As an example, he mentions the case of programmers who spend hours on end at the computer and, consequently, when they come home, they tend to continue spending their time in front of a screen.

"Unfortunately, these forms of virtual autism can also manifest in adults, in a different form, of course. There are genetic mechanisms at play here. For instance, the longer a person stays in a certain state, the harder it becomes for them to adapt to a different state. For example, a programmer who spends hours, 10-12 hours a day, you'll often see that when they come home, tend to relax in front of a screen again. Why? Because the brain needs pleasure hormones: dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, and GABA. We usually receive these pleasure hormones from social interactions, good nutrition, or things that give us pleasure. But they give us pleasure precisely because they release these pleasure hormones.

Now, when you spend a lot of time in a particular state, like IT professionals or programmers in front of a computer, the brain tries to adapt because it needs these hormones. So, it says, 'Okay, let's produce these hormones in this state.' And that's why when they come home, they tend to go back to the computer. If you try to get them to go outside, to go somewhere in the park, 'Oh, I don't feel like it now, maybe later,' precisely because some new, often incorrect neural networks have been formed", Marius Zamfir further explained.

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Autorul articolului: Loredana Iriciuc | Categorie: English




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