Technology is ubiquitous in everyday life, so it began to seize including young children. New technologies have penetrated in elementary schools and kindergartens, in which are used for educational purposes. Products like “Baby Einstein” offers cases for iPod and applications even for children aged only 12 months.
Many parents consider inevitably the contact of their children with technology, but it is important to know that all that time spent in front of screens makes more harm than good.
Why children should not hold portable devices?
Here are the most important reasons why you should not let your child spend time on gadgets.
1. Brain development
A child’s brain triples in size during the first years of life, and continues to grow rapidly until the age of 21 years. Exposure to technology in this period may have irreversible effects on brain development.
Early brain development is determined mainly by environmental stimuli and their absence can have serious consequences.
When a brain in the process of development is constantly exposed to technology, this increases the risk of attention and deficit problems or executive functioning, cognitive delays, learning disorders, accentuated impulsivity.
Be it mobile phones, game consoles, TVs and laptops, technological progress makes the most children to be exposed to screens on far longer periods as in previous years, “said Prof. Mitch Blair for The Guardian .
“Both us and many pediatricians in some other countries, we are increasingly worried about how these things are reflected on children’s brain and how young people who develop so rapidly.”
Concerns are growing larger and are more numerous, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding children’s exposure aged 2 years or less in mass media and technological devices, citing health risks listed and analyzed below.
2. Developmental delay
Children exposed to television, movies and video showed delays in language development, several studies warn. Technology can be so overwhelming for young children that there is a risk that they completely lose interest in the world beyond the screen and can’t keep up with many important social interactions.
Since 2011, the CDC reported that about one in six US children is diagnosed with a developmental disorder. Most of these children suffer from autism and deficit attention or from hyperactivity disorder. These figures have increased by 17% since 1997.
3. Childhood Obesity
Childhood obesity has doubled in children and adolescents in the past 30 years. Currently, one third of Americans are obese or overweight.
Obesity increases the risk of stroke, heart attack and diabetes.
Doctors fear that the disease may shorten life expectancy for both adults and children.
North American teens spend almost eight hours a day in front of a screen outside school hours. This sedentary lifestyle is linked to a greater risk of obesity in children.
4. Sleep Deprivation
Studies suggest that spending time in front of a computer, television or telephone each night can affect sleep quality in children and adults alike.
This may predispose children to disregard imposed bedtimes and to suffer from difficulty falling asleep, anxiety and nightmares. Children who sleep in their room with technological devices tend to use these devices late hours of the night, which accentuates the problems of sleep deprivation.
5. Mental illness
Technological abuse is correlated with an increased risk of depression, anxiety, attachment disorders, attention deficit, autism, bipolar disorder, psychosis, and problematic behavior in children.
Long periods of time spent in front of a screen can also foster a detachment from reality, which may enhance the risk of disease of mental illness.
Psychologists today suggest that depriving children of opportunities to play on their own, without direct adult supervision, prevents acquire a number of essential learning skills that lead to an autonomous lifestyle into adulthood.
6. Predisposition to aggressive behavior
Children learn mostly through imitation. When a child is exposed to violence in the family or on the TV screen, he will consider these behaviors as perfectly normal.
Children can memorize the violent behavior unconsciously causing problems at home and at school. “Children who are exposed to a lot of simulated violence often found in video games can become immune to it in time, more likely to behave violently, and less able to behave empathic” Dimitri A. Christakis explained, a researcher of Research at the Institute of Child Health in Seattle.
7. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
ADHD is now the most common disease of childhood behavior. In the past 10 years, cases of ADHD have increased by 50%.
Currently, about 1 in 10 adolescents receive medication for ADHD during high school. They speculate that this could be linked to the multiplication of mobile devices.
Although when they are in front of screens, children practice their attention, the effort is rarely directed towards school activities and social interactions, key factors for proper intellectual development.
8. Predisposition for addictive behaviors
Some parents are using technology to keep their kids quiet and in control, but forget to interact directly with them. For this reason, many children learn to attach emotionally of technology rather than family.
In some children, this may induce reluctance or refusal to eat, to sleep or even to use the toilet when using applications or playing video games.
To meet the growing number of complaints of digital addiction, Dr. Richard Graham, who runs a technology addiction program in the UK, had to open the door cabinet for children.
The youngest patient is only 4 years old. The doctor says that the children have the same withdrawal symptoms that alcoholics or heroin addicts have when they are deprived of their favorite devices.
9. Risk of Radiation
The International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization (IARC) has classified mobile phone use and other radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possible carcinogens (group 2B).
Children who talk a lot on the phone or have their mobile phone in their pocket all the time, are exposed to dangerously high levels of radiation.
One study found that children’s brain tissue absorb almost twice as much microwave radiation (MWR) than adults, while other studies have reported that bone marrow absorb 10 times more MWR than adults.
10. Overuse of digital devices affects the eyes
Constant exposure to technology can leave a mark on people’s eyes.
According to the Council for sighted (The Vision Council), 65% of children experience symptoms of eye disease such as dryness, irritation and eye fatigue, blurred vision or headaches, neck and back. All these problems are due to overuse of digital devices.
In young children, this can lead to permanent vision problems, including myopia.
Many health organizations warn that children under age of 12 should not hold or have portable TVs in their bedroom and electronic games equipment.
Other sources warn that teenagers should not be allowed to spend more than 2 hours a day in front of a screen. Although some of these suggestions may seem impossible to put into practice by some parents, their compliance is still very important for children’s health.