Sometime fighting every day wars and challenges are more comfortable than switching places with the parent of a toddler. Children aged 2-4 years are all demanding and all consuming. They need constant attention and as a dedicated parent we service their needs 24/7. It is during this time that children are at their maximum mental and physical level of growth; hence the amount of care they need is vast.
Making your child eat a full plate of food is a lot like climbing Mount Everest, which might be possible, but making your child sit in one place for food has become less and less possible. This is when parents give up and present a phone or tablets to keep their child hooked in one place to achieve one key survival activity.
Mobile phones are so common that they are found in the hands of children in malls, theatres, restaurants, waiting room, airports and almost everywhere.
Results from a survey in 2018 National Institute of Health study showed that screen time affects the structure of the brains of children who are given access to mobile phones.
Does access to mobile phone and technology has a significant impact on child growth?
Let’s have a deeper insight.
A scientific survey by the University of Texas was done to reveal the impact of mobile games on toddlers. One group of children were given mobile phone access for a few days, and one group without. The children with phones became so engrossed that they didn’t even respond on being called by their name. While the other set, who were given natural care and attention, had a quick response on hearing their names.
Below are a few significant impacts of mobile usage on children:
- Effect on child/parent relationship: During the ages of 2-4 years, the child’s mental growth is in progress. The parents’ voice, touch, and image create a pathway in their brains, which ultimately aids in the forming a strong emotional bond with the parent. But when a mobile is introduced at this stage, the process gets disrupted, which eventually affects the psychological growth of the child. It creates a problem in concentration levels, development of self-esteem, and loss of personal association in later stages of life.
- From solution to addiction: Once a child is introduced to the world of videos and cartoons, they develop a craving for it. If your child has watched a cartoon while having food, he will demand a cartoon every time he is having food and failure to provide might cause him to throw a tantrum. At this stage, the child’s impulse control is still developing. Hence, with a huge variety of attractive content online and low self-control drives home addiction.
- Welcome the tantrums: Using a smartphone or tablet to pacify a child when they are throwing a tantrum isn’t a useful technique as it will hamper their ability to develop their internal self-regulatory mechanisms. If the child gets addicted to watching things on smartphones, and then you try to withdraw it, the results will be drastic. The child might cry, refuse to eat food, not listen to you and the reactions are varied.
- Sleepless nights: A lot of parents allow their children to watch a few cartoons before their bedtime. They think it will help them to fall asleep faster, but as the scientists say the result is quite the opposite. The light emitted from the screen suppresses the hormone melatonin, which is responsible for inducing sleep. Hence, it disrupts the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle making the child cranky when they are put to bed and also when woken in the morning.
- Increased obesity: The American Heart Association expert panel suggests that screen time could contribute to a child’s future heart disease. When a cartoon is played on a Smartphone or tablet, the parents keep it in one place, and the child sits there watching. As one cartoon ends and another plays on, with an ocean of interactive kids shows online, the child stays glue at one position for long. This often goes unsupervised as busy parents engage and deal with the never ending daily chores list. Children stop running, jumping, exploring an using their imaginations, their imaginations are developed by smart phone apps, games and cartoons limiting natural creativity.
- Face-to-face time: It is often seen that when there are guests in the house, children are engrossed in phones playing games. They find it easier to operate a smart phone than to talk to some-one new. This is a symptom of social anxiety which is highly becoming popular in children and adults, due to overuse of technology. Children are not able to develop social relationships with others which are very necessary at this stage. A 2014 study by UCLA’s Children’s Digital Media Center suggests that when screen time limits face-to-face interaction; it severely affects the social skills of the children. Making friends and building relationships becomes difficult.
Don’t panic! Technology is not harmful to toddlers.
The stage of growth between 2-4 years in the same cycle of a child requires a balance of mental and physical activity.
Hence, here are a few ways of consciously using smartphone technology with kids:
- The educational games and educational videos like e-learning apps are good for a child’s growth.
- Keep the device on the floor, so that the child does not sit still for a long time and being on the floor they can quickly move around.
- Give the child the opportunity to watch videos in a controlled environment and make it a family affair.
- Set ground rules, make technology a treat rather than a given.
- Be your child’s role model, if you do not use your phone in front of them, they will not tend to grab a phone as soon as possible.
Spending time with children and playing games with them provides immense happiness to the child and the parents.
To read more about this click on Smartphone and Tablet Screen Time: Good or Bad for Kids.