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The Impact of Gadgets on Children

Posted: July 14, 2018 at 8:43 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Electric appliances and gadgets has occupied a major position in our day-to-day lives, whether we like it or not. Though they were invented to make life better for us in the first place, it is an undeniable fact that many of the gadgets have a negative influence upon the quality of our lives in some ways. As we cannot live without them,  yet  they are a necessary evil.  However, the need to reduce the negative impact arising from their use is crucial especially in young children.


The usage of gadgets for various purposes and with most time spent in most activities like playing games, watching videos, listening to songs, chatting with  friends, browsing different websites  neglect the attention to their posture, screen brightness, and screen distance from their eyes which ultimately affect their vision and health ultimately.  Staring at electronic screen continuously for a  long time causes distress.  Young children suffers various problems like eye irritation or difficulty in focus.  Children whose childhood is “stolen” by gadgets lack physical activity in all respects. In general, they  prefer spending hours playing with their tablet or cell phone rather than heading outdoors to a park or engaging in outdoor activities with friends.


How can the impact of these devices on our children be minimized?  It is really surprising that a 2 year old baby can and  knows how to use a cell phone  or tablet. In fact, some parents felt proud that their children can use a tablet or phone before they can  even talk. But is it really good that all those touch screen devices are so widespread among this growing-up generation?


While all agree that technology brings convenience and versatility, most parents realize that too much time spent with a touch screen can lead to eye disorders. But is that all? In 2014, the Association of Teachers in Britain reported that a rising number of toddlers lack the motor skills needed to play with building blocks though they can easily “swipe a screen”. The reason is an “addiction” to tablets and smartphones.  Do you know that 1 out of 3 U.S. kids can use a mobile phone or tablet before they talk? In 2013, Daily mail reported that 29% of children use tech gadgets as toddlers and 70% master them completely by primary school age. Surprising? Indeed.


In 1999 the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended no TV at all for toddlers below 2 years and only two hours a day for older children. That was before smartphones, tablets and gaming consoles appeared.


Today it is almost impossible for an average adult to stay away from these technology advances. Just count how many technology devices you have at home.  For young children, imitation is a major development milestone. Their parents’ behaviour is the common object of a child’s imitation games. How should they stay away from gadgets if their parents are stuck to iPads and smartphones?


Action figures, puzzles, board games are no longer the favourite toys of today’s children. Touch screens have taken over all other forms of playful delight for them. Maybe, this is why a personal tablet or smartphone are still the most desired presents. Gadgets have become the most preferable toys of younger generation and refraining our children from gadgets will not help their educational growth either.


However, a sedentary lifestyle causes one more acute problem – childhood obesity. Taking a tablet or smartphone to the dinner table, a child cannot control the normal food intake. Either he or she eats too quickly or too much since they are concentrated on the screen instead of the meal.


Gadgets addiction can affect a child’s sleep. Children too excited with gaming have problems with falling asleep. Many parents complain that their children will not go to bed past their bed time  because of long-drawn playing and have difficulty waking up for school.


But the most risks are connected with the mental health of children. Gadgets overuse is always a risk factor for child depression, anxiety, autism, psychological and other problematic child behaviours. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S.,  over six million children between 4 and 17 have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  In the last two decades this figure more than doubled to 11 percent because of the skyrocketing use of mobile devices.


Based on the statistics, it is alarming to note that Malaysia ranked 5th place on internet time spent on an average of 3 hours on social media.  83.2% of children aged 5 to 17 were internet users.  93% of them accessed the internet from smartphones. Top online activities for children were mainly text communication, social networking, getting information and watching videos. (MCMC Internet User Survey 2017)

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