Smartphones and Tablets Can Affect Mental Health in Children as Young as Two
Parents, we need to STOP relying on gadgets to babysit our kids in order to protect them from serious mental health issues.
As a parent myself, I’ll admit that sometimes I resort to allowing my children to play with my phone or watch TV. This happens especially when I have to work or have a meeting, and I need them to be occupied.
It’s hard to shy away from technology as our children are getting more and more exposed to these things.
Even schools use gadgets and rely on tech for lessons and homework.
Mental health in young kids
Spending hours on smartphones and tablet devices have frequently been linked to exacerbating our mental well being. New research claim the damage might start in users as young as two years old.
After just one hour of screen time, children and adolescents may have less curiosity, lower self-control and lower emotional stability, which can lead to an increased risk of anxiety and depression, claims a US study published in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports.
The researchers found that those aged 14 to 17 are more at risk of such adverse effects, but noticed the correlations also in younger children and toddlers, whose brains are still developing.
Danger in disguise
The study found that nursery school children who used screens frequently were twice as likely to lose their temper.
It also claimed that 9% of those aged 11 to 13 who spent an hour a day on screens were not curious in learning new things, a figure which rose to 22.6 per cent for those whose screen time was seven hours a day or more.
"Thus, there is an acute need to identify factors linked to mental health issues that are amenable to intervention in this population, as most antecedents are difficult or impossible to influence.
Both are urging parents and teachers to reduce the time children spend online, playing video games or watching television in a bid to combat this.
The National Institute of Health claims that young people spend an average of five to seven hours on screens in their spare time.
What can we do to stop deteriorating mental health in young kids?
Here are some tips parents can follow when their child is using gadgets. Parents must keep track of the amount of time kids are spending on them.
- Set time for using screens
It is impossible to avoid screen time 100%, so restrict the amount of time children spend on gadgets. Don’t allow them to use after their time is finished and limit the time for watching TV.
- Make them play outside
Encourage your children to play outside with their friends and siblings so they learn to interact and communicate with other children. It's far better to play with pets like cats, dogs or other kids than watching any animated movie.
- Offer other activities
It’s not a good idea to keep your child busy with gadgets so you can do whatever you want to do in peace. Instead, keep them occupied with other creative toys, story books, puzzles or colouring books.
- Ensure adequate sleep for your child
Children must have enough sleep for about 10 hours a day. Good sleep helps recovery from eye strain and for the brain to work efficiently. Good sleep is also necessary for good health.
Read also: 5 tech-free playtime ideas