Electronic devices have become man’s best friend. And rightly so. Right from waking us up, they communicate for us, shop for us, help us travel, entertain us and often also educate us. Like any other good thing, too much use of these electronic devices can be harmful.
‘Phone Addiction’ and ‘Internet Addiction’ have become common, affecting even our young children. In fact, in their developing age, this addiction is more harmful for children than adults. There are many physical, cognitive, social and psychological impact these gadgets have.
The physical impacts are obvious. The light emitted from the gadgets causes sleep disorders. Apart from causing dryness in the eyes, too much of screen time can cause pseudo myopia. In extreme cases it disrupts the co-ordination between vision and motor skills leading to difficulty in writing, cutting, sports and other such activities which requires this sync. It also causes neck and back pain and if not looked on time, it might affect the posture of the child for a lifetime.
As children spend more time on the screens rather than playing out, children are at the risk of common sedentary lifestyle health issues like obesity, type 2 diabetes, increase abdominal fat, and insulin resistance. The radiations emitted from the gadgets can cause cancer as children absorb the radiations at higher rate than adults.
Over exposure to the gadgets are associated with cognitive delays and impaired learnings. Speech and language delay are seen in children between six months to two years. Research shows that spending too much time online can weaken higher level cognitive skills such as critical thinking, reflection and imagination.
Older children that spend time in flipping from one online activity to the other, have difficulty in focusing on one task for long and easily get bored. They look for immediate gratification as they find in online world and can’t think of a bigger picture. As a result, they get easily frustrated when they can’t get immediate results in the real world. These children struggle to take decisions, problem solve and have tendency to give up on things very easily.
There is also a risk of children being exposed to adult and violent content when online. This makes children grow beyond their physical age and might have negative impact in their character, compromising on their moral values.
When children and gadgets become inseparable, the communication and bond with the real world reduces. This results into development of socially isolated child who might suffer from nervousness, shyness and fear when in contact with real people. They might also get anxious and behave angrily when the device is taken away from them. When children become socially addicted, seeking high number of likes, clicks and comments becomes their only objective causing high levels of stress. All of this can lead to depression and have a negative impact in their studies.
So, how do we protect our children from the negative impacts of electronic gadgets and more importantly how do we ensure physical, cognitive, social and psychological development of our children?
Reducing screen time to two hours a day for school going children, will automatically reduce the adverse effects of electronic gadgets. To further reduce the negative impact, here are few tips
- Break the two hours of screen time into two or three sessions
- Apply 20-20-20 rule, after every 20 minutes of screen time, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will give rest to eye muscles
- Ask children to blink more. It will help in dealing with dryness in the eyes
- Ensure there is adequate light. Do not allow to operate on screen in darkness or too much sunlight
- Ensure that the screen is at appropriate distance. Depending on the size of the screen, the distance varies. On an average, a computer screen should be kept at 40-76 cm away from the eyes and mobile phones at about 30 cm away.
- Adjust the position of the screen in a way that children don’t have to stoop or look upwards and can sit in an upright position.
To ensure physical, social and psychological development of children, encourage them to play outdoor with other kids. When indoors engage children in offline activities that will develop their creative thinking, critical thinking, problem solving, decision-making and communication skills. This will make children independent to deal with real life challenges and emerge successful.
Unfortunately, with the academic pressure, the above skills are last in the priority list and not developed in children. Many parents and schools don’t know how to develop these 21st century skills.
An educational institute, Maxplore aims to fill this void and to make today’s generation self-reliant in facing the challenges of fast changing world. Through real-life relatable examples and interactive activities, Maxplore teaches children to creatively problem solve, think rationally, take decisions and much more. The student-led sessions help in raising the confidence of children and improve their communication skills. These efforts of Maxplore to develop Entrepreneurship Intelligence™ in children are first of its kind in India.
In today’s technological world, it is impossible to keep children away from the electronic gadgets. Therefore, it becomes essential to allow children to use the gadgets wisely, develop the life skills in children that the gadgets can’t and raise our children to be able to take charge of their life, solve problems and be valuable to the world at large.