Children should have limited access to handheld devices according to the American Academy of Paediatrics and the Canadian Society of Paediatrics. Both institutions assert that children under 2 should be forbidden to use them, those from 3-5 should only spend 1h daily using them, whereas those from 6-18, only 2h. They claim the reason for this is a range of serious developmental consequences that stem from the excessive use of technology by children (4-5 times above the recommended limits).
1. Brain development
Brain growth in children is very rapid provided it gets all the necessary stimuli by the environment. But in the case of excessive exposure to technology, i.e. mobiles, Internet, iPads, TV etc., children are at a high risk of developing cognitive delays, impaired learning, attention deficit, or the ability to self-regulate.
2. Developmental disabilities
Cognitive development in children can be seriously affected by the use of technology leading to developmental delays, literacy difficulties and poor academic achievement. That’s why children under 12 should have a highly restricted access to handheld technology.
Spending too much time on technological devices reduces physical activity, which consequently leads to obesity. This is substantiated by the fact that 25% of children in Canada and the USA are overweight, 30% of whom develop serious health conditions, such as diabetes, which implies a higher risk of heart attack and shorter life expectancy.
4. Sleep deprivation
Three in four children use technology in their bedrooms, which leads to sleep deprivation and poorer academic achievements.
5. Mental disorder
Excessive use of handheld devices results in problematic behaviour, attention deficit, anxiety, child depression, and bipolar disorder.
6. Aggressive behaviour
Violent media, physical and sexual content, aggressive video games are serious causes for child aggression. That’s why media violence has been classified as Public Health Risk in the US.
High speed media content leads to attention deficit disorder, decreased memory and concentration and law learning ability.
8. Technology addiction
Technology addiction in children is often generated by parents’ detachment from their children.
The World Health Organization has categorized mobile phones as carcinogens (category 2B risk), whereas Dr. Anthony Miller from the University of Toronto’s School of Public Health suggests that a new research gives good grounds for reclassifying these as 2A (probable carcinogen). That’s why cell phones are extremely dangerous for child brain development.
Children are the future to each society so it essential that they are raised properly. On the other hand, children raised with technology are dependent on their parents and cannot function on their own in society. For further reference, visit www.zonein.ca under ‘videos’ and share with others who are worried about the excessive use of technology by children.
Dr. Andrew Doan, neuroscientist and author of Hooked on Games, Dr. Hilarie Cash, Director of reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery Program and author of Video Games and Your Kids, and Cris Rowan, pediatric occupational therapist and author of Virtual Child developed the following guidelines on technology for parents.