[This is a guest post contribution by Margaux Diaz.]
According to most people, handing your child an iPhone or an iPad is the best way to keep them distracted while you concentrate on your work. We can all relate to how most kids become quiet once they start watching videos or playing online games on an iPhone or iPad. Well, it seems that most of us have been harming our children.
According to parenting experts, too much use of a smartphone or any other electronic screen for that matter, can have very negative effects on a developing child’s brain, behavior, and sleeping habits. Kim Knull, psychologist and parenting columnist, says that too much time spent tapping away with the eyes glued on an iPad, iPhone, or any other similar screen especially before bedtime can be very detrimental on a child’s mental wellbeing.
The Science of Smart Gadgets
Most of us are asking ourselves how this can be true. Unlike the stupor that is caused by watching too much TV, interactive technology in the form of texting, emailing, and playing online games increases irritability and stress levels. This affects the sleep cycles of the children and hurts their social interaction as well as depleting their mental reserves.
This is even a bigger problem when the kids, or even grown-ups for that matter, are playing on smart gadgets immediately before bed. According to the latest tech news, even very few minutes of exposure to a screen before bed delays the release of melatonin, a hormone that is associated with good sleep. Having a lit screen in the bedroom is also not recommended as it leads to poor sleep quality as well as depression.
To reduce this negative effect, most experts recommend that there should be no technology in the bedroom and one should limit its use two hours before going to bed.
Other Physical Effects
A lot of interaction with smart screens can also impact negatively on brain chemistry thus altering how the kid experiences pleasure. Increased screen time desensitizes the brain’s reward system as there is too much dopamine released in the brain, which overuses the reward pathways. This leads to a situation where the child requires more stimulation to feel happy in their normal day-to-day life. The children then get addicted to the screens due to the chemical reliance that occurs.
To avoid this, experts suggest that parents make adjustments to the amount of time that children are allowed to use these electronic devices. This could be achieved by setting timers that will help draw the line. Parents should also remove screen devices from the children’s reach and put them in a safe place.
According to a leading Sydney optometrist, children who are exposed to smartphone screens and similar gadgets for extended periods of time are at the risk of potential irreversible eye damage. This is caused by the blue light emissions from digital devices. With the increase of handheld technology devices, doctors have reported a huge boost in the number of patients complaining about eye strain and dry eyes that are caused by prolonged exposure.
Although these conditions can be treated and prevented with regular breaks, the dangers of accrued exposure to blue light, especially for children, are still not fully known. Experts are convinced that the risk to children is something that cannot be ignored. It has been proven through evidence that intense blue light from smart screens causes damage to the retina. According to recent technological news, extended exposure to children could lead to an early onset macular degeneration and even blindness in later years.
Unlike adults whose eyes can be able to block out some of the blue light, children’s eyes are still developing, which makes it able to penetrate directly to the retina. This is even more dangerous at night as it interferes with circadian rhythm and disrupts sleep. Advanced LED screens that are used in iPhones and iPads emit more blue light than previous screen technologies such as LCD. TVs are less harmful compared to the above mentioned screens since they are not as close to the eyes as iPhones and iPads.
A report published by the Millennium Cohort Study revealed that children who had prolonged screen time had a higher chance of developing conduct related problems, relationship issues, as well as emotional symptoms by the time they reached the age of seven, as compared to those children who were not. A renowned Center for Toddler Development at Bernard’s College carried out an experiment where they observed the reaction of children to traditional toys and their reactions to an iPad.
The children using traditional toys could be seen interacting with each other as they played. Those playing with iPads were so engrossed in the gadgets that they could not respond when their names were called out. When all the toys were confiscated, those using iPads were angrier than the ones using traditional toys. Researchers concluded that the more parents use iPhones, iPads and smart screens to calm their children down, the less likely the children are to learn to calm themselves down naturally.
So, are you still going to buy your kid an iPad?
About the Author
Margaux Diaz is a technology and gadget geek. She has an interest in writing and has written numerous articles related to gadgets, electronic instruments, and new technologies. Her main motive is to help and support people around the world, as well as give them information regarding the latest technology. She is an inspirational writer who strongly believes in the power of self-motivation.