Academics in America have developed the first tool in the country to measure screen media addiction in children aged four to 11.
It could also change how parents think about monitoring screen time.
The study published in a journal of The American Psychological Association pinpoints nine specific behaviours to look for including unsuccessful control, loss of interest in other areas and a pre-occupation with smart devices.
Other indicators that could relate to addiction issues are screen time interfering with family activities, and issues with withdrawal, tolerance and deception.
If screen time is acting as an escape or to relive mood, that could also indicate a child may have a problem.
“A guiding purpose for screen time, both in-school and at-home, is purpose,” said Dr Paul Lieblich Director of Schools at Clarion School Dubai.
“If a child is engaging in screen time that serves a certain purpose, such as an interactive literacy app or a math game that a parent or teacher has approved, this can be both fun and educational.
“Parents and teachers should always know how the programs they allow their children to use, work, what the appropriate age is for use, and what the purpose is in reaching learning goals.
“With these things in mind, technology and screen time can enhance learning and help teachers differentiate and assess students in the classroom.”
Schools and education specialists in Dubai are reacting to what are the signs of screen media addiction, and what parents can do to guard against it.
On a regular school day in a classroom at Clarion School, instruction-based screen time is a way to complement other experiences rather than replace them.
It is limited, directed and supported by teachers who are constantly discussing, evaluating and learning about the impact of technology to ensure the best outcomes for their pupils.
“The Fourth Graders use iPads for research purposes and they are allowed to look topics up on the internet,” said Emily Boudreau, a Grade 4 teacher at Clarion School.
“Google Earth is an incredibly useful tool and a great way for pupils to explore the world around them and also places that are not immediate to them.
“There are ways that technology and screen time can make the classroom bigger. But again, screen time has to be used mindfully.
“It isn’t just about getting the children to sit and do a quiet activity - It is about creating an experience for them to discover.”