Children playing with electronic gadgets (mobile phones, laptops, electronic games) are a common sight these days.
Why are children being increasingly exposed to these electronic devices?
The electronic gadgets are becoming less expensive and easily available.
Parents give them to distract them while feeding.
Parents are becoming increasingly busy and unable to spend time with their children; hence giving the children these gadgets to keep them occupied.
Peer pressure from other children makes these an essential requirement for some children.
What are the potential harmful affects of these devices?
Excessive use of these devices can be harmful.
Brain growth: The harm can be more pronounced in early childhood which is a period of rapid brain growth and development.
Learning: High speed media content can contribute to attention deficit, as well as decreased concentration and memory. This can lead to serious learning problems.
Development: Technology use restricts movement, which can result in delayed development. Behavioural problems like being impulsive, aggression, violence.
Mental illness: Increased risk of mental illnesses like child depression, anxiety, attachment disorder, attention deficit, autism, bipolar disorder, psychosis and problematic child behaviour.
Addiction: In the absence of parental attachment, detached children can attach to devices, which can result in addiction.These gadgets are excessively stimulant to the children’s brains. As a result, they find rest of the normal activities as dull and boring.
Sleep problems: It is particularly important to avoid these gadgets immediately before bedtime as they could stimulate the brain and cause sleeping problems.
Obesity: Decreased physical activity leading to obesity. Exposure to violence, sex etc. This can encourage children to exhibit violent behaviour.
Radiation: Exposure to radiation. Children are more sensitive to a variety of agents than adults as their brains and immune systems are still developing.
What is acceptable exposure?
Although it is difficult to say what the safe limit is, there are some guidelines available.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Society of Pediatrics state infants aged 0-2 years should not have any exposure to technology, 3-5 years be restricted to one hour per day, and 6-18 years restricted to 2 hours per day.
What can parents do about it?
Parents should act early before the kids get addicted to these devices.
- They should limit the daily exposure to an acceptable period.
- Do not give these devices just to keep the children engaged or to distract them while feeding.
- Find alternative methods of keeping them engaged like sports, reading books etc.
- Do not give them during the time when kids go to play outdoors. This will ensure that children will get adequate physical exercise.
- Supervise children during the use of electronic devices. This way we can ensure that they are exposed to unwanted content.
- Ensure that children are not exposed to excess violence etc.
- Avoid using them before bedtime. This will prevent sleep problems.
- If any side effects or signs of addiction noted, please seek expert help.
About the Doctor:
Dr. Srinivas Jakka,
Consultant Paediatrician, pulmonology and allergy specialist
MD (Paediatrics), MRCPCH (UK), diploma in allergy (UK)
Dr. Srinivas Jakka is an experienced Paediatrician, Pulmonologist and Allergy Specialist. He completed his training in India and world renowned hospitals in UK. He has vast experience in the management of children with complex paediatric problems, asthma, complex respiratory diseases and allergies.
About The Hospital:
Ankura is a chain of Children’s Hospital in Hyderabad. Set up in the year 2011 in KPHB, near Hitech Railway Station, the Ankura Hospitals family has today spread its wings to Secunderabad, Khammam and Vijayawada.