Phones have come a long way from the days of the bulky brick-like handset to the slim sleek smartphones that keep getting thinner. Smartphones now exceed the capability of the traditional phone, doubling as a camera, GPS, alarm clock, schedule planner and much more. Even parenting is made easier as we can so easily keep our children entertained for hours with Candy Crush. Not owning a smartphone seems foolish in view of all the convenience it brings.
Time to get your kid a smartphone?
If you’re thinking of purchasing one for your child, hold your horses! While there are many benefits to getting your kid a mobile phone, the cons outweigh the pros by far. Studies have shown that young children who own mobile devices tend to have behavioral and health problems like depression and eating disorders. This is particularly so for children allowed to use mobile devices or watch TV for more than 2 hours daily. American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents of children under the age of two should avoid making use of smartphones, tablets, computers and televisions to keep them occupied.
An estimated 60% of parents don’t monitor their children’s usage of technology closely. As such, 75% of children use mobile devices such as tablets and mobile phones in their bedroom. According to a Boston College study, 75% of children between 9 and 10 years old do not do well in school due to sleep deprivation caused by excessive use of tablets.
Alternatives to smartphones
To curb such problems, parents need to be vigilant and not simply take the easy way out. Instead of using mobile devices to entertain young children, why not read to them? Parents can also purchase developmental toys such as Rubik’s cubes or 3D puzzles to keep children engaged.
For older children, parents can make use of smartwatches specially tailored for children. For example, parents can contact their children easily with the Watchphone while allowing them space to gain independence. Such smartphones tend to have good habit-forming functions as well, like an in-built pedometer and calorie-counter. The Watchphone essentially encapsulates the benefits of a smartphone without the frills that may ultimately lead to bad habits. Moreover, the one-touch SOS function lets your child alert you instantly in case of danger.
Ultimately parents being present in their children’s lives will help their healthy development far more effectively than any piece of technology.