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Children all over the world use smartphones for various purposes. Some children are seen talking to their friends for long hours, while others spend their time playing countless games on the phone. The internet is an abode of knowledge for children. Though the utility of smartphones cannot be debated, continued use and exposure can have harmful effects on the child.
Bad Effects of Smartphones/Cell Phones on Children
Mobile phones may be an easy way to distract children or keep them occupied. However, they come with their own set of vices. Some of the negative effects of regular use of mobile phones include:
Now, we don’t mean to scare you with this information, but it is good to know that studies suggest a possible increased risk of tumours for those who use cellphones excessively. There is limited evidence that tumours are caused due to cellphone radiation, but as a parent, you may want to limit the time your kids use phones to avoid any other possible risks.
2. Affects Brain Activity
Studies suggest that the human brain is sensitive to electromagnetic radiation; however, there is a need for more studies to prove the radiation could disturb brain activity. Since, mobile phones primarily function on electromagnetic waves for all forms of communication, even internal, and the brain has its own electric impulses wherein communication is carried out in the neural network, it could possibly affect the brain. However, as mentioned earlier, more research needs to be done to prove that radiation affects brain activity.
For now, what could possibly affect the brain is the content the child is exposed to and the screen time. Therefore, it is imperative for parents to control or limit screen time and ensure children have access to only certain programs, games, etc. that are suitable for their age. Limited cellphone time won’t affect the child’s learning or focus on other important things/activities, too, such as studies, hobbies, sports, etc.
3. Academic Performance
Many children carry phones along with them to their schools. Chatting with friends or playing games during school breaks, or even in the class, is increasing day-by-day. This results in children failing to pay attention in the class, missing out on important lessons, and consequently, being clueless about studies and examinations.
4. Academic Malpractice
Smartphones not only distract children from studies but may also be their tool of malpractices to score well in exams. Using the inbuilt calculator in exams where it isn’t allowed, storing photographs or reference information to cheat in the examination, or even exchanging answers with other students over chat during the exam, have been widely observed in various schools. Such behaviour not only affects academic performance but also results in a personality issue.
5. Inappropriate Media
Like any other gadget, the mobile phone is also a tool and can be used for wrong purposes. Kids could come across inappropriate messages, images, or texts shared by their friends or in the group, and further pass it on to others. They can find their way to pornography at an early age, changing their perceptions and thought process. Even exchanging images of their own, irresponsibly, can create a fiasco that impacts their lives for a long time.
6. Sleep Disruption
Children may stay up late talking to friends, playing games, or scrolling through social media, which over a period of time, causes fatigue and restlessness. It also disrupts academic life, as kids are too sleepy to concentrate on what is taught in school. Hence, it has a domino effect that seeps into all walks of their lives.
7. Medical Issues
With children glued to the mobile phone during their free time, they don’t partake in physical activity and get fresh air. This puts them at risk for obesity and other illnesses, which can later develop into harmful diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.
8. Mental Health
Children on social media may come in contact with cyberbullies who harass and bully them over the internet. Many children who have been cyber-bullied may only admit their experience much later in life when the mental damage has already been done. Social media may also induce depression and anxiety when the kids are not given the online attention they expect.
With some awareness, parents can become alert and ensure all or most of the risks mentioned above are prevented for their children. Read on for some safety tips for you to decrease the risks of mobile phones in children.
Taking the right measures to ensure mobile phone safety for kids is extremely important while they are growing up.
- As a general practice, avoid giving cell phones to children under the age of 16. You may stay in touch with the teachers and school staff to ensure your child’s safety and health if needed. Some parents may choose otherwise, and that is fine too, as long as the child has no or limited access to content that will take his focus off his studies.
- If you are worried about the radiation, you may make your child wear a wired headset or limit his talk time when he talks on the phone, instead of holding it to the ear. As mentioned earlier, there isn’t enough evidence to prove cellphone radiation can cause tumours, but if it eases your anxiety, go for it.
- Avoid constantly giving your child your mobile phone when he is in the middle of an activity as it will only distract him or lead to falls and injuries.
- As an adult, it is important for parents and other people in the house to restrict their use of phones when they are around children. This is not only for purposes of avoiding radiation, but to create a behaviour pattern as well.
- Keep your mobile phones safely with you and out of sight of your kids at night. Children may quietly try to get a hold of it, without you finding out.
As with every technology or tool out there, a mobile phone is a double-edged sword. The technological prowess of the smartphone is tremendous, and it is quite a learning tool for children as well. However, keeping things in moderation and restricting usage hours goes a long way in ensuring children’s well-being and inculcating good behavioural habits in them.