A few days back, I was trying to teach my 5-year-old to how to use the word dictionary. He sat with me for some time and then he picked up my smartphone and google-searched for that particular word. I was surprised and wondered if it was my mistake for having a smartphone?
What do you think?
There is no doubt that smartphones are beneficial for us; they provide us with the ease of communication and GPS functioning helps us to go anywhere, but every technological advance that provides us with such extensive benefits has consequential costs too.
Almost 90% of people in India now have a smartphone. Parent’s smartphones are used by children too.
I know many mothers whose kids don’t eat food or drink milk without watching rhymes or cartoons on the phone simultaneously.
Some children are so infatuated that they are unable to stay without the smartphone. When the mobile phone turns into something that takes control of a child’s life and not just an essential item for communication, parents have a right to be concerned.
What are the effects of smartphones?
For every 30 minutes of screen time, there is a 49% risk of expressive speech delay in a kid. The harm that smartphones and other screens do to kids is particularly severe in babies who have developing brains. Psychologists call the first three years of a child’s life “the critical period” in brain development because the brain development during these years becomes the base upon which all future learning trusts. Provocations from screens, including tablets and smartphones, gets in the way of brains’ healthy development, overwhelming their still-developing minds with stimuli.
The damage from watching the screen too much can be permanent. “The ability to focus, concentrate, lend attention, sense other people’s attitudes and communicate with them and to build a large vocabulary – all those abilities are harmed,” warns Dr. Aric Sigman, associated with the British Psychological Society and a Fellow of Britain’s Royal Society of Medicine.
Nothing is impossible. Here are a few suggestions for starting a change for kids and their families.
What can parents do to decrease the risk?
The best suggestion is to limit phone usage duration. If your kids insist on having a mobile, or you feel they need one, encourage them to:
- Always use the speakerphone or keep the phone away from your head when you speak. A child’s brain is too sensitive to withstand the effects of smartphone radiation.
- Do not allow children to carry mobile phones to school.
- Do not leave mobile phones in your child’s bedroom at night.
- Manage screen time for your children and prevent them from smartphone addiction.
It’s tough to tell your kids to limit their smartphone use if you yourself are glued to your devices. Parents also should limit their mobile usage . Try setting aside time for the entire family to come together, phone-free. That’s the advice of child psychologist Yalda Uhls: specify a set amount of time for your family to interact with no devices in sight. This can help foster face-to-face interaction and emotional compassion that is lacking from smartphone-based communication.
Spend time with your kids, play with them. White canvas preschool is committed to limited usage of smart devices in their preschool and daycare program and encourages parents to do the same.
“It is not good to have a generation of kids that always looks forward to have a better version of the smartphone; they need to look forward to exploration.