Hardly anyone can say that smartphones haven’t brought a plethora of benefits into our world. Being able to stay connected with your friends and family, the ease of communication and the access to all knowledge of the world’s encyclopedias and libraries at our fingertips. But, just like with any other technological leap, those benefits come at a price, and nowhere are the consequences more apparent, than in our children.
Even though many parents are happy with the ability to know their kid’s whereabouts, and contact them at any moment, there is a hidden, more sinister side to the ‘magical’ devices. Smartphones are highly addictive, and unless you take matters into your own hands and restrict your child’s time with one, it may have effects and consequences which would be difficult, if not impossible to reverse.
Some children become so infatuated and obsessed with their phone that they are unable to live without it. They would constantly check for notifications and messages, and become nervous and irritable if they are forced by circumstance to be away from their smartphone for an extended period. These children cease to communicate with their families and their phone has to be in their pocket or by their bedside non-stop. They even use them in the early morning hours, when they should be asleep, which takes a toll on their school performance, their other, more active hobbies, and most importantly on their relationships with friends as well as family.
If you are reading this article, you may have noticed some of these behaviors in your child, or you may just be concerned about the general dangers associated with overusing a smartphone at an early age. Whatever your reasons may be, you’re probably interested to learn the specific risks and bad effects so we will talk about some of them below.
Harmful effects of the internet
A smartphone allows your child to engage in behaviors that you may consider inappropriate. The fact that they have the phone on them at all times without any supervision or control, gives them the ability to spend time on websites that show content you may otherwise restrict, due to it being shocking or harmful. This can leave your child confused, scared or psychologically disturbed.
This includes, but is not limited to pornographic sites, which your child can easily access from any phone that doesn’t use parental locking software. Overtly sexual and pornographic content can lead to issues with body image and sexuality, as well as an objectification of the opposite gender.
Another practice that has become highly common among teens over the recent years has been sexual texting or even exchanging inappropriate photos. Even if you consider these behaviors harmless, and to be expected from teenagers, there is a risk of the photos getting into the wrong hands, which can cause public embarrassment and irrevocable psychological damage to your child.
Using parental control and watching your kid’s behavior on the internet is highly recommended to avoid circumstances such as these.
Effects on health
Children today are forced to grow up in an environment polluted by radio waves like never before. The radiation that smartphones emit also adds to this pollution and can contribute to any negative effects that this type of environment causes.
One thing you might not know is that children are significantly more susceptible to radiation since their brains absorb around 60 percent more radiation than adult brains do. This is due to the fact that their head has thinner skin, bones, and tissues. Blasting their young brains with radiation definitely doesn’t do their development any favors, and may even hinder it tangibly.
Their sleep quality is likely to suffer as well. Numerous studies have connected heavy cell phone and smartphone usage with sleep disruption, fatigue, and general restlessness, and anyone who has ever stared at a screen for a prolonged period knows that it causes tired and itchy eyes, even burning and pain.
Adverse effects of addiction on school performance
It’s very easy for anyone to get addicted to their smartphone. The dopamine release provided by quick and repetitive actions such as checking your Facebook and Instagram feed can cause a person to waste hours engaged in these activities, even though they rarely, if ever, add any real substance to our lives.
Needless to say, children are even more prone to this kind of dopamine-fueled addiction. The fact that app developers nowadays employ teams of psychologists and experts to make their game or social network as addicting as possible makes it even more difficult to set that phone aside and do something productive with your day. And if you’re feeling like you can’t shake the addiction, imagine how difficult it would be for a child with a yet developing brain.
Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that your kid wants to chat and talk to her friends, or play mobile games all the time. This will, obviously, have a noticeable effect on her academic performance. The time usually spent on homework will be reduced and turned into smartphone-time. Exam and test results will suffer because of the lack of study, or simply the lack of sleep which comes as the result of your child using his phone well into the night. Even healthy hobbies, like sports or playing with his friends will be neglected in favor of spending time with his precious smartphone.
What to do?
Smartphones are not all bad. They provide us with a sense of security, giving us the ability to contact friends and family members at any time. This gives peace of mind for most parents as well as their kids. Obviously, the dangers we wrote about in this article don’t mean you should throw away your smartphone and go back to a time when simple issues like missing the school bus led to hours of stress.
Just stick to these simple guidelines and you should be fine:
- Don’t let your kid use their phone at night. Take it away when it’s time for bed.
- Tell your child to use the speaker on their phone whenever possible and keep the phone away from their head because of the radiation.
- Manage their screentime and try to teach them about smartphone addiction and how dopamine works.
- Lead by example and don’t use your smartphone during meals and other family-oriented occasions.