At this day and age, kids are no strangers towards the digital world. The sight of young children intently focused on their mobile devices is a dime a dozen outside. While these electronic gadgets are a great form of entertainment to keep the kids busy, many parents are still unaware of the full impact of technology on children.
In fact, many families here in Singapore have adopted a casual attitude towards this growing danger. A survey done in 2013 by the Health Promotion Board and National Institute of Education (NIE) has shown that out of 60 parents interviewed, a whopping 70 percent of them do not impose curfews on their child’s device usage. These caregivers are often in the belief that their kids will become more IT-savvy the longer they spend time on their phones, PCs, or tablets.
While it may be true that your child might be a little smarter in navigating through his or her Facebook profile, there are still potential side effects that you should probably take note if your child is a digital enthusiast! Here, we look at the detrimental relationship between kids and devices.
Poor sitting postures and strained eyesight are just some of the common problems that spring up among young children who spend long hours in front of an electronic screen. Not only that, recently conducted studies have linked plenty of development issues, such as mood disorders, poor sleep habits, and ADHD, to the duration a child spends on a digital device.
You might be buying a few moments of peace and quiet by handing over that tablet or smartphone to your bawling toddler, but you could potentially be causing more issues in the future! A study in 2015 by the Boston University School of Medicine has shown that using digital devices to pacify young children might compromise their ability to manage their inner emotions at a later stage.
It comes as no surprise that today’s technology is constantly blamed for various fitness issues among children. Concerns such as childhood obesity and unhealthy eating habits are often associated with extended periods on electronic devices. Other afflictions also include cyber motion sickness, “text claw” (hand discomfort that’s caused by heavy smartphone usage), and “text necks” (neck pain caused by looking on your smartphone).
In fact, a study in 2011 in the child health journal Acta Paediatrica has shown that 10-year-olds in the UK are slowly becoming weaker and less capable in physical activities, compared to their predecessors in the past. The reason for more fragile children was mainly attributed to the lack of interest in outdoor activities because the current generation is more interested in exploring the virtual world instead!
Are you able to relate to the struggle of dragging your screaming child from the computer screen to the dinner table? If you think you have it bad, then think again. There are children who have grown so dependent on these digital devices that they’ve become clinically addicted to technology!
Termed as IAD, or Internet addiction disorder, those afflicted with this disease tend to suffer from poor social skills, grades and health as their excessive use of the Internet begin to interfere with their daily life and relationships. Experts believe that children suffering from the disorder grow increasingly hooked on various activities on the web, which provides them with a drug-like experience due to the release of dopamine, a pleasure chemical in the brain.
As today’s children find it more convenient to migrate their social interactions onto their digital devices, face-to-face conversations will be a thing of the past. Even basic greetings and salutations can be sent through messaging applications, removing the need to meet up outside.
Some may find this disconcerting, as studies have shown that the lack of personal communication may lead a rapid decrease of emotional sensitivity amongst the younger generation. Regularly interacting with a screen may result in users losing the ability to understand non-verbal cues, such as body gestures and facial expressions. Who knows, there might even be a time where nods and handshakes won’t mean anything at all!
So the next time you decide to hand over your tablet or mobile phone to your kid, just remember to keep these health risks in mind. While technology isn’t exactly a bad thing to have around the household, it’s still best to keep your child’s usage in moderation!
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