New Tool Can Tell Whether Your Child Has a ‘Screen Addiction’ Interview with:
“Cici loves full screen video on the XO” by Mike Lee is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Sarah E. Domoff, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Psychology
Central Michigan University
Research Faculty Affiliate
Center for Human Growth and Development
University of Michigan What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There has been growing concern that children may become “addicted” to screens, such as tablets and other mobile devices. Children at younger ages are now “owning” their own mobile devices and have increased access to gaming apps and other rewarding functions of these devices. Until now, there hasn’t been a parent report form available to capture addictive like use of screen media in children.

The Problematic Media Use Measure (PMUM) assesses addictive-like use of screen media in children under 12 years and has strong psychometrics. We found that the PMUM does a better job in predicting psychosocial difficulties in children, over and above hours of screen time. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The PMUM is a tool that clinicians can use to determine whether children they are treating exhibit problematic use of media. This broad screen (particularly in its short form, which is 9 items) could be easily administered during well child visit with pediatricians, as well as included in psychiatric/psychological assessment batteries.

MDs and psychologists could use the PMUM to screen for excessive media use and further investigate whether parents would like treatment for handling their child’s screen addiction. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Future research is needed to determine whether certain clinical populations exhibit greater problematic media use and to see if the PMUM predicts later problems in functioning throughout childhood. Our next project will examine whether children on the Autism Spectrum are at greater risk for addictive use of screen media and we will investigate treatment-related changes in screen addiction in clinically-referred youth. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Parents are greatly concerned about when screen media use is too much and what to do if their child shows symptoms of addiction. Health care providers who work with children now have a tool to screen for these concerning behaviors. My research team at Central Michigan University ( has developed interventions to address problematic media use in adolescents that may be of great utility to pediatricians and child and adolescent psychiatrists. Contact Dr. Domoff to receive more information/training for your medical centers ( Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Domoff, Sarah & Harrison, Kristen & Gearhardt, Ashley & A. Gentile, Douglas & Lumeng, Julie & Miller, Alison. (2017). Development and Validation of the Problematic Media Use Measure: A Parent Report Measure of Screen Media “Addiction” in Children. Psychology of Popular Media Culture. . 10.1037/ppm0000163.

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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