Parents Should Be Careful When They Use Their Smartphone as a Nanny
A Sign of The Times
The increasing use of smartphones among children is a growing concern in today’s digital age. Studies have shown that children’s smartphone usage has risen dramatically, leading to risks for their development, health, and education. While technology can be a valuable tool for learning and communication, it is important for parents to properly guide and manage their child’s usage to minimize potential negative effects.
Hard to Say No
Excessive smartphone use can lead to digital eye strain, which includes symptoms such as pain, blurred vision, headaches, dry eyes, and fatigue. Children are particularly susceptible to these symptoms as they may hold their devices too close to their eyes and not be aware of the impact on their eyesight. A study from the Chonnam National University found that children aged 7 to 16 who spent significant time on their smartphones were at risk of becoming cross-eyed.
Related: Heavy smartphone use is making children cross-eyed – study
In addition to potential eye problems, excessive smartphone use has also been linked to an increased risk of tumors, although more research is needed to confirm this. It is important for parents, teachers, and caregivers to limit children’s smartphone usage to prevent these risks. (Cancer: Strong Signal for Cell Phone Effects)
It is also important to educate children on how to use their devices safely, such as holding them at a safe distance from their eyes and adjusting the brightness to a necessary minimum. Parents can also set time limits and encourage other activities to reduce screen time. By taking these precautions, parents can ensure that their child’s use of technology is safe and beneficial.
Another major concern of early cellphone use in children is the potential impact on their mental health. Studies have found that heavy cellphone use in children and teenagers is associated with an increased risk of depression and suicide. (Citation: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6477437/)
A study by the National Institutes of Health also found that children who began using cellphones at a younger age had lower language and cognitive development. (Citation: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5394758/) This highlights the importance of monitoring and limiting children’s cellphone use to prevent negative impacts on their cognitive and emotional development.
It’s important to note that excessive smartphone use can also lead to social isolation, which can be detrimental to children’s mental health. Children who are hooked on to their smartphones for long periods of time tend to miss out on face-to-face interactions and activities with friends and family, which are crucial for their social development.
Moreover, children may be exposed to online harassment, cyberbullying, and inappropriate content if they are not monitored and guided properly. Parents should ensure that their child is using the Internet safely and that they understand how to deal with any negative situation that may arise.
Boundaries are crucial for children. Scheduling screen time in the same way as bedtimes, playtime, and meals is important. Consider establishing rules like equal time for imaginative play indoors or outdoors for every hour spent online. Stay engaged with your kids while they’re online. Even if the game or activity is simple enough for them to do on their own, play with them when you can.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has released a new study on technology use among children, and has made recommendations on how to teach kids to be mindful citizens of the digital world. According to the AAP, 38 percent of kids under the age of two use smartphones and iPads, which can be both inspiring and cause for concern.
Finding a balance is key when it comes to technology use among children. Pediatrician Dr. Donald Shifrin notes, “The most dangerous thing we can do for youngsters nowadays is to deny them access to the digital world. But the second most dangerous thing is to give them unlimited access.”
To find this balance, parents should start by being a good role model. Don’t let your kid only ever see the top of your head from always looking down at your phone. They learn that what’s on a screen is generally more important than what’s going on around them. Parents should put down their device and engage in face-to-face conversation with their child.
Is My Kid Addicted? What To Look Out For:
- Using Phone To Feel Better Or Happier:
- If you notice a change in mood when your child accesses their device, it could indicate that they are overly dependent on it to maintain a positive emotional state
- If You catch your kid being shady or deceptive just to convince you to give them the ipad or your phone.
- If your child is having fits and tantrums or even full blown meltdowns more and more frequently, then it definitely a sign to taper off the phone and tablet usage.
- If your kid seems distant or anxious after taking away the phone or ipad, that could be a tell tale sign that your child has developed some level or dependence to it.
- Loss Of Interest
- If you notice your child is not as interested in activities as before and only want the phone to watch videos and play games, then it might be time to set strict boundaries for your child’s usage time.
Is There Going Back From Here?
Its pretty clear at this point that phones, tablets, and all manner of tech is here to stay. We are living the futuristic lives our parents and grand parents dreamt about and watched on scifi shows.
Here are some ways to help stop child phone addiction:
- Set time limits: Establish a daily limit for phone usage and stick to it. Use a timer or a parental control app to monitor and limit screen time.
- Encourage other activities: Encourage children to participate in other activities such as sports, hobbies, or spending time with friends and family.
- Create phone-free zones: Designate certain areas of the home, such as the dinner table or bedroom, as phone-free zones.
- Lead by example: Children learn from their parents, so make sure to set a good example by limiting your own phone usage and being present in the moment.
- Communicate: Talk to your child about the importance of balance and the potential negative effects of excessive phone use.
- Get professional help: If your child’s phone addiction is causing significant problems in their life, consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor.
- Reward good behavior: Reward your child for good behavior, such as meeting their screen time limits or engaging in other activities.
It is important to remember that each child is different and what works for one child may not work for another. It’s important to be patient and persistent in finding the best approach for your child to stop phone addiction.
In conclusion, as parents, teachers, and caregivers, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks associated with early cellphone use and take steps to limit their child’s use. This includes setting time limits, encouraging face-to-face interactions, monitoring their child’s online activity, and guiding them on how to use the internet safely. By taking these precautions, parents can help ensure that their child’s development is not hindered by excessive cellphone use.
Jessica T is a staff writer for Smashgadget