Today’s parents have a tough time when it comes to ensuring their kids aren’t buried nose deep in their devices. While some restrict the number of hours theirs kids spend on gadgets, others ban them altogether. Prince William and Kate Middleton fall in the latter category. The royal couple is going all out to ensure their kids, George and Charlotte, have a normal and healthy upbringing. Buzz is that they have banned iPads at home to give their children an unplugged childhood.
Parents are often seen handing over gadgets to their children in an attempt to keep them occupied. But is this a smart move? While parents feel gadgets keep their kids busy and quiet, experts warn that smartphones can do more damage than good to kids.
“It’s sad to see young kids glued to the screen of their mobiles,” says Dr Praveen Chintapati, consultant psychiatrist. Explaining the long-term issues that a child may face due to early introduction to technology, he adds, “There are various issues that a child might face. A common one is that he/she doesn’t understand how the real world works. In the virtual world, everything can be changed with the click of a button. But it doesn’t work the same way in real life. So when they are denied anything, they get frustrated and develop behavioural disorders. I would advise parents not to let their kids play with smartphones and also to avoid using smartphones in front of them.”
Many kids are so hooked to various apps and games on phones that they seldom play with toys or enjoy playing outdoors. This also could affect their healthy growth. Shedding light on this, Dr Baijesh Ramesh, clinical psychologist, says, “Toys play an important part. Kids don’t just play with them, they generally weave a story with the toys they have. This helps in increasing their imagination and problem-solving capacity.” He adds that playing continuously on phones or watching television may affect a child’s social behaviour as well as communication skills.
“I had a young patient once who talked like the cartoon character, Uncle Scrooge. That was because he didn’t have anyone else to talk to and mimicked whatever he heard, which was mostly cartoons. There are cases of kids who can easily chat on social media, but are unable to express their feelings in the real word. That’s because their technical interaction is more than their human interaction; they fail to understand or express feelings,” adds Dr Baijesh.
It doesn’t stop there. Many kids may even find it difficult to connect with their parents emotionally. Advising parents, Dr Diana Monteiro, counselling psychologist and a mother of two young kids, says, “To avoid technology completely is not possible. However, there has to be a balance. So, giving a phone is no issue but there needs to be a limit on it. It is necessary that the kid follows a daily routine, which includes outdoor games. Also, whenever you get some time, try and talk to your kids —about anything. Their school, friends, hobbies, new reads, etc. During this time, a parent should, too, avoid using phone or tabs.”