8 Reasons Not To Give Young Children Smartphones And Tablets And Limit Screen Time For Older Ones
Go to any public place, and you’ll see at least several children of different ages with their eyes glued to tablets and smartphones. This is a sad sight, because not many parents are aware of the consequences of letting their children use electronic devices however they want and how long they want. It’s very convenient for parents to keep their children busy with a gadget when they go about their business. But the consequences of overusing technology can be dire for the child’s mental and physical health.
It’s too early to tell what is the long-term effect of giving children a smartphone or a tablet to keep them occupied, which is especially true for younger children. The generation that can’t imagine a world without smartphones and tablets is still growing up. But there are a few things which can result from electronics overuse that are already showing, and they are alarmingly common.
Below, we list 8 ways overuse of smartphones and tablets impacts children:
1. It throws the child’s sleep cycle out of whack.
Staring at a screen before bedtime can make children less sleepy than they should be, as the level of sleep hormone melatonin decreases under the effect of blue light that gadgets emit. This is true for everyone, but it’s especially damaging for the developing brain. Lack of sleep can lead to many negative consequences, including an increased risk of diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, and also a decline in cognitive ability.
2. It impairs the child’s attention and ability to concentrate.
Smartphones offer children plenty of immediate rewards. With most activities that children use smartphones for, there is no need to think hard and focus for prolonged periods of time. Using smartphones and tablets too often and for too long can make a child incapable of sustained attention, which is crucial for learning and future academic success.
3. It can damage the child’s relationship with parents.
Electronics use takes away from real-life communication and all its emotional richness and meaningfulness. If the child is given a device too often from a young age, it becomes a substitute for actual communication with parents and the world. Children need more face time, not screen time!
4. It makes the child less curious and creative.
When the child is sucked into the rabbit hole that is the internet (which is full of useless stuff), or spends hours playing a game in which you have to do the same thing over and over again, he or she will become less interested in the world around them. Children are naturally curious and creative, and the use of smartphones and other devices does nothing to develop these qualities.
5. It predisposes child obesity.
More screen time means less time spent in active outdoor play, which is essential for the child’s immunity, mental and physical fitness, and health in general. Lack of physical activity combined with poor diet inevitably leads to an unhealthy weight gain, which has now become an epidemic.
6. It damages the child’s spine.
When people look at the screen of their phones, they don’t usually hold the phone on the eye level and don’t keep their whole back straight. Sitting for hours daily with the neck bent down and staring at a screen can damage the developing spine, which can lead to many other issues, such as a neck and upper back pain, and even a decreased blood flow to the brain.
7. It hampers developing self-discipline.
Self-discipline is one of the most important elements in the formula for success in life. Children should develop it as they get older, but unsupervised use of electronics can get in the way of this process. It’s common for older children to procrastinate on homework or things they are supposed to do around the house when there’s a distraction in the form of a smartphone or tablet.
8. It can damage the child’s self-esteem.
When children are old enough to use social networks, they may develop a distorted view of what life should be if they spend too much time on these websites. Almost everyone posts only about the best moments in their lives, not their fails, so it’s easy for children to get an impression that their peers’ lives are better than theirs. Also, the child may become a victim of cyber-bullying, which often goes unpunished.
We hope that the reasons we listed above can make at least a few parents think about limiting their children’s screen time. After all, it’s for their own good!
This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.