Children from the first months of their lives are surrounded by digital gadgets. Gadgets are sometimes introduced to young children before they can talk or handle a pencil. The US Academy of Pediatrics reports from 2016 show that most youngsters in the US use smartphones every day from two years of age.
The technology available to make life easier for adults has added new responsibilities for dads and moms. Parents have to decide when to buy a smartphone for their child, what to watch on YouTube and what games to download. Suppose a parent is a guide to life; who else can introduce the child to the virtual world as well. Of course, you can just give the kid a smartphone, turn on the cartoon, and then let him figure it out himself. As a last resort, there is a YouTube recommendation system and sandbox friends. The second option is easier, but it can be fraught with a trip to a child psychologist.
How do smartphones and tablets affect child development?
This question has not yet received a clear answer. Researchers have just started to explore the impact of electronics on the younger generation. The US government launched large-scale research of modern young people’s intellectual ability in 2018. It comprises 11,000 children aged 9 to 10 years throughout the country. Scientists from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) seek to learn how long-term smartphone use impacts children’s physical structure, emotions, and mental health.
The study is going to take ten years for $300 million. The initial results have been released recently by its writers. After studying MRI photographs of 4,500,000 children, scientists found premature cerebral cortex thinning in school students who spent more than seven hours a day using electronics. The modifications altered the outside of the brain, which processes information from the five senses. This is frequently the case with an adult. The cause and effects of the modifications have to be identified.
The survey also says that children with gadgets spending over two hours perform less often than smartphone classmates in thinking and language testing. The authors of another study of children aged 2 to five years obtained similar conclusions. Similar conclusions. University of Calgary’s psychologists, Canada, indicate that developmental delays are caused by a passive and bad interaction between children who are eager on their smartphones.
“The mother of a three-year-old girl came to my consultation. She panicked because she was teaching the child on the iPad. Mom downloaded useful toys, for example, where you need to mix balls and triangles in different directions. The woman was very proud that her child, still unable to speak, already distributed objects according to colors and shapes. But when the mother gave her daughter real circles and squares, she could not even take them in her hands. The child did not develop a spatial perception of objects, hence the problems with motor skills. The girl could not appreciate how far from her. There are objects, or it is right to take a cube in her hand to move it. Everything collapsed; the child was crying, her mother did not know what to do. The child, at the age of three, had to build something that had not been done in a year.
Also, the development of speech functions depends on fine motor skills, so the more a child is engaged with small objects, the earlier and better his speech centers are formed. British pediatricians also speak about the increasing problems with fine motor skills in preschool children. They described a case when a child in the first grade did not learn how to hold a pencil correctly due to the underdevelopment of the thin muscles of the fingers. The mother of a six-year-old boy said that the iPad replaced the classic toys for the child. Sally Payne, the chief pediatrician at the Heart of England Trust, says it’s easier to give a child a gadget than to engage in physical activities. For example, assembling a designer, creating an application and other types of developmental activities.
How does a child’s perception of information differ from an adult?
Bill Gates banned his children from using mobile phones until adolescence, and Steve Jobs did not allow the use of an iPad until school. Parental control is not a whim of the main IT evangelists. According to the New York Times, developers in Silicon Valley are seriously concerned about the impact of digital devices on their children, which is why even nannies are hired on one condition: not to use a smartphone in the house.
Several former Facebook, Google, and YouTube employees set up the Humane Technology Center to lobby for bills against some of the technologies they themselves helped create. First of all, we are talking about mechanisms, the task of which is to keep the attention of users for as long as possible, regardless of their age. But if for an adult, “sticking” on the Internet is not critical, with children, everything is different.
In a child under 6-7 years old, all cognitive processes, including attention, perception (visual, auditory, olfactory), as well as thinking and fantasy, are involuntary. Therefore, at preschool age, children are especially interested in everything bright and unusual. An adult must be present for a child to engage in any activity. By the first grade, a small person learns to concentrate attention even on what is not always interesting to him.
“With the phone, the child does not need to strain. Everything is bright, flashy and switches very quickly. If the gadget is the dominant form of leisure, the child simply does not develop the centers responsible for perseverance. they become “I’m bored; I won’t do it.”
And what, now do not give the child a smartphone at all?
The smartphone, like any other technology, is just a tool. It will bring benefit or harm – it depends on the person, so extremes are not a solution. Modern children will be constantly surrounded by peers with gadgets. A ban on technology can cause them both feelings of inferiority and protest. In any case, the child will find a way to interact with digital devices. When handing over a gadget to a child, at least one should take into account age characteristics and features of the environment.
The World Health Organization recommends that children be introduced to smartphones and tablets no earlier than two years of age. The allowed session time is a maximum of one hour per day; the same applies to children under five years of age.
The American Academy of Pediatricians negatively rates most developmental apps for young children because they have not been proven to be effective. Doctors believe that the bulk of educational applications are aimed primarily at memorizing letters and forms. For all-around development and preparation for school, the child needs to learn how to regulate attention and emotions, as well as develop creative thinking. For these purposes, social games with family and friends in the real world are more suitable.
How to understand that a child is addicted to a smartphone and it’s time to take action?
Poor concentration is one sure sign that gadgets are arousing unhealthy interest in a child and determining his emotional state. In this case, he refuses any activity, for example, draw, play with plasticizing, play with toys. Instead, the child asks for the phone back. Construction activities tend to captivate even the most restless children. If the child does not want that either, then it makes sense to talk about addiction.
In such situations, parents need to regulate the hours that the child can devote to a smartphone or computer games during the week. In the first case, you can install an application for calculating the time spent on the gadget. The agreement with the child must be bilateral. Access to gadgets and video games can be used as a reward for household chores and academic success, and a time limit can be used as a fine for a child’s failure to comply with a contract.