“The cell phones have become adult’s transitional object, replacing the toddler’s teddy bear for comfort and a sense of belonging.” – Margaret Heffernan
Technology undoubtedly has immensely grown by leaps and bounds making our day to day lives simpler. In becoming better day by day technology gave birth to smartphones. Initially, they were indeed considered a boon. People looked at it as a means to get in touch with their loved ones. I still remember when this gadget launched, there were very few people who were the proud owners of it. In my family also, only my father had one … that too he bought it after repeated requests from his patients who could get in touch with him easily at any time anywhere.
Those days were really different. Smartphones were not misused. These were only used when there was an emergency, or to get in touch with the family. But with the passing years, these smartphones not only have graduated to the next level but also you can easily spot every Tom, Dick and Harry using these. Smartphones have definitely lessened the bridge between people, but the fact is that we are more on our phones than we talk in person. Constantly checking the phone while talking to someone has distanced people rather than bringing them closer.
This technology has become a silent killer and has not even spared our children. It affects the way children think, imagine and behave. But children are not at fault. It is us the parents who should be blamed for the same. We hand over our phones to them when maybe they are as young as 6 months or even younger. The minute the baby starts wailing and we realise we cannot handle them, instantly that very second we show them some nursery rhymes. The child becomes quiet and also takes it for granted. Soon this becomes a habit and in short, the mobile becomes a pacifier.
As a kid, I used to watch television and that too only on certain days for some time. But these days toddlers are skilled to put on their favourite rhymes on Youtube. They can change from one rhyme, song or game with ease and adjust the volume accordingly. Not only this, they are so proficient that they can click pictures, retrieve songs, put the cursor on the best part of their cartoons and yes not to forget text and call people randomly.
One may think there is nothing wrong with this … the kid is calm, quiet and actually knows so much ahead of time. But aren’t all of us aware that excess of everything is bad, thus the same rule applies here as well. Excess usage of the smartphone is bad in fact crippling as it makes these children zombies, craving for more, with a reduced attention span and sometimes headed towards depression.
I have seen toddlers asking and begging their mothers for their phones, just because they don’t want to play and get their hands messed up or they don’t have children their age. Many times mothers also take advantage of this devil. They try to feed their child when the child is busy with the phone.
It is indeed easy to distract children but this comes with a cost and a huge cost. Some of the adverse effects of using phones are:
- Health Issues: Research states that children are three times more prone to radiation than adults when they use smartphones. Since children have a thin skull and small heads, it is easier for the radiation to enter deep in their brains. Their small brains are still developing and the radiation exposes them to a plethora of problems from minor ones being eyestrain, tired and scratchy eyes to non-malignant tumours in the ears and brain or to a potential risk of cancer. Other physical problems like neck strain or the text neck, myopia, finger cramp (also known as iPad hand and text claw), diabetes and obesity are also some of the health issues of concern.
- Brain Activity gets Disturbed: We are all aware that the mobile phone works with the electromagnetic waves. But did you know that even our brains have electromagnetic impulses which help in communication? Since children have thin bones the electromagnetic waves from the phones easily penetrate in the inner part of the brain. This creates a havoc as the waves given out by the phones change the electrical activity of the brain. This further creates mood swings, short attention span and behavioural problems. Scientists believe that even a 2-minute phone call is enough to alter the child’s electrical activity for almost an hour.
- Aggressive Behaviour: Smartphones help the children to stay busy, but without any rest. This causes a change in their behaviour. They become annoyed, upset, sulk for little things, and get irritated. Since they are so glued to their phone they don’t really have a social life. When they stay away from the phone they become cranky and feel the need to get back to their phones.
- Inappropriate Internet Usage: Sometimes children fumble to wrong sites which can leave a child confused and scared. Porn sites and inappropriate pictures are common among teens. These affect a child’s perception about their body image and people. Also, the inappropriate media is good enough to rob the innocence of these children who are still exploring the world.
Now does this scare you… If not think about it, question yourself … do children really need smartphones, tablets or iPads. Think hard and your inner voice will say no and in fact a big NO…