We all spend a lot of time on our phones, including children. Hence, we cannot help but wonder, how the use of smartphones affects our children’s development. Nowadays, it is a fact that children start using their phones sooner and sooner. They use it for various purposes, to watch cartoons, listen to music, play games or talk to their family members or relatives abroad. Even though smartphones bring us plenty of benefits, they also have some downsides.
We will explore both pros and cons of smartphones on children’s development in the following paragraphs. Also, we will offer some useful strategies for parents to ensure that their children are using phones responsibly. Some of these include introducing your children to smartphones after they’ve started going to the child care center. Also, strategies such as setting screen time boundaries and screening the content they watch can be useful.
Smartphones do bring us several benefits such as children learning to be self-sufficient, and digitally literate as well as having quick access to emergency services. Let’s look at these in more detail.
The first benefit of children using phones is learning to be self-sufficient. Parents and teachers can help children learn how to regulate the time they spend on their phones. They can guide and support children by giving them some useful pieces of advice as well as suggestions. This leads to children learning to be self-aware as well as to practice self-reflection. These skills are great and necessary – they prepare them for adolescence and young adulthood. Children can then easily implement all these skills they’ve acquired in various other aspects of life.
Another benefit of children using smartphones is the fact that they become digitally literate quite soon. And this is obviously a skill that is very much needed in today’s tech-driven world. Children effectively prepare themselves for engaging with future technologies by using smartphones. They can learn how to search for things online and how to distinguish between useful and reputable and not so useful and reputable resources online. These skills are going to be of great use throughout their education. Such access to information has a democratizing effect, which helps in bridging the digital divide between families with various income levels.
What’s more, if there is some kind of an emergency or a need to contact some emergency service, children can do it pretty easily. They just need a smartphone. This goes for both younger and older children. This easy accessibility gives both parents and children a sense of security, as they know that in case of a need, an emergency service can easily be reached.
However, besides the pros of children using smartphones, there are also certain cons. These include eye discomfort and potential eyesight damage, disrupted sleep as well as a negative effect on children’s ability to learn.
One of the most noticeable cons of children using phones is surely eye discomfort ad possible eyesight damage. There are no studies yet that prove that excessive staring at a smartphone screen causes damaged eyesight, but it surely causes discomfort. Such circumstances have caused a term to be coined – digital eye strain. It refers to symptoms such as pain, dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches, and fatigue caused by excessive looking at screens.
Another con of children using smartphones is the fact that smartphones can lead to disrupted sleep. Children often use their phones right before bedtime. This kind of mindless staring at screens at late night over a longer period of time can cause restlessness. Using phones in such a way reduces the time children have for sleep. The blue light that the screens are emitting tricks our brain into thinking that it is daytime and that it needs to wake up. Sleep deprivation in turn affects their academic achievements. When they don’t sleep enough, they can’t be concentrated at school. You can learn more about some ways to help your children sleep better and help them overcome this issue.
Smartphones can easily divert children’s attention, having detrimental effects on their social and economic development. According to the results of certain studies, excessive use of smartphones impairs the development of skills needed for maths and science. When being taken to school, smartphones can easily take precedence over what is being taught. So, there is obviously a negative impact on children’s academic performance. Children become addicted to phones easily and they fail to pay attention during classes.
As a parent, you should try to maximize the pros and minimize the cons of smartphones on children. You can do that by ensuring that the children are using their phones responsibly. There are some strategies you can follow.
First of all, you should set clear screen time boundaries. Setting a time limit they can use a smartphone can lower the chances of them developing an unhealthy phone dependency. Parents have the freedom to be creative in setting specific times when their children can use phones and when not. The most important thing is to remain consistent.
Another way to ensure responsibility in children using smartphones is checking out the content they watch. Screen whatever your child watches or likes watching. In that way, you’ll always know if the content is suitable or not.
Moreover, exactly because children use devices so much these days, many of them come with parental guidance screening options. Parents should definitely take advantage of these. Smartphones and tablets can easily expose your children to inappropriate content, so you should be proactive in preventing that from happening.
It’s essential that you don’t introduce your children to phones too early. According to WHO’s recommendation, children shouldn’t start using phones before they’ve started attending preschool. If you do it sooner, you risk developing certain tendencies and behaviors.
Parenting always has certain challenges to it. In today’s modern world, both the biggest advantage and challenge are technological advancements. We should be smart about them.