Bengaluru: Not many parents realise the consequences cell phones can have on their toddlers' health when they hand over the device and other gadgets to them. They often do so to calm them or make fussy eaters finish the meal. As a result even a two-year-old child knows how to use a cell phone.
Doctors say increased screen time during early development of the brain, i.e. 0-2 years, will lead to inattention. They also say that it can cause side effects like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), lack of attention, and self-regulatory problems as the children expect instant gratification.
Dr Bhaskar M.V., Consultant, Pediatrics, BGS Gleneagles Global Hospital said, "Increased screen time may also interfere with the executive function of the brain like self-regulation skills which are very important for academic and personal growth. Increased screen time will cause inattention thereby hampering self-regulation further. Using smartphones as a pacifier will give children immediate gratification which in turn leads to loss of self-regulation and long term addiction to phones (reward mechanism)."
Even WHO (World health Organisation) in its recent report stated, "Screen time for children aged two, three and four should be limited to just an hour every day. The lesser, the better."
It is also seen that young parents make it a habit for their children to have cell phones in their hand while eating or to pacify them.
Dr Megha Mahajan, Consultant-Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist, Fortis Hospital said that using a smartphone or iPad to pacify a toddler/ to divert child's attention may impede their ability to learn self-regulation.
"If these devices become the predominant method to calm and distract young children, will they be able to develop their own internal mechanisms of self-regulation? Thus increasing the risk of mental health issues ranging from social communication deficits, ADHD, poor self-regulation skills, etc," she said.