Parenting Training: Raising Kids Resistant to Screen Addictions

By Greg Baer M.D.

November 8, 2023

It’s You or the Candy

In the 60's and 70's, Stanford University conducted a study of 600 children, ages 4-6.

Each child was put in a room with a single piece of candy on the table. They were told that they were free to eat the candy, but if they could WAIT until the adult returned to the room in 15 minutes, then they’d get TWO pieces.

What was the outcome? 67% failed to wait. They could not wait 15 minutes.

Sounds innocent enough, yeah? What’s the big deal that young children can’t wait to eat a piece of candy?

By itself, it’s not a big deal, but let’s look at how this gives us a window into what children are doing now.

Why are Screens So Addictive?

Children now are being tempted by something far more seductive than a piece of candy.

All over the country, psychologists and learning experts are dedicated to making social media, video games, and porn so attractive that children cannot resist them. 

It is a big “NOT secret” that tech companies INTENTIONALLY keep children on their websites. They want them to stay, unable to leave, regardless of the effect on the children—their schooling, their participation in family activities, or their developing social skills and mental health.

And when anyone compulsively uses a substance or behavior in a harmful way, and cannot easily quit, THAT is the definition of an addiction.

The children in the Stanford study failed at a rate of 67% to wait only 15 minutes before eating a piece of candy. Can you not easily imagine what the failure rate is for children now to back away from screens that are designed specifically to addict them?

Screen Addiction: Dopamine Power

It gets worse. The Stanford children were required to wait only 15 minutes before getting a reward.

How long do children now have to wait before they get the promised reward of good grades, a good job, social skills, and great relationships? Oh, about ten to twenty years.

Is it any wonder, then, that children choose the immediate rewards of Likes, points, kills, exciting photos, scrolling, and binging? The dopamine hit is instantaneous, powerful, and controllable. By comparison, the promise of a good job and relationships seems like an eternity away.

How to Prevent Screen Addiction

What chance do kids have of avoiding these addictions? Only YOU, the parents.

What children want and need more than candy, texting, photos, and other forms of pleasure and entertainment is your unconditional love. That love nourishes their souls, heals their wounds, and gives them the strength to become happy and fulfilled. 

With that love—and with your guidance—they have little need to take the candy within a few minutes. They simply do not become addicted to all the forms of pain relief offered by the world, because they’re not IN PAIN in the first place.

We can give our children this gift of freedom from emotional starvation and the freedom to choose love over pain relief. We must learn to find this gift and pass it on to them.

Learn How Here

Eliminate and prevent screen addiction.

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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