Kathmandu: Many children have been found engaged in playing mobile-like devices like smartphones and tablets in these days. Age restriction and limitation remains a distant issue. All age group children are using such devices, particularly smartphones.
If we examine minutely or talk with parents, we find that the children are crazy on such devices. Who wants to make them cry? If they cannot get the devices, they become angry and start crying. Parents also easily provide them devices because it would be easier for their work or they don’t disturb them. Children love to see different cartoons, songs, games and other freely available contents. Many parents don’t have knowledge to add filter on internet-based contents. Sometimes, parents can be found excessively using mobile devices, and ignore their children.
There are several potential risks associated with overusing mobile devices like smartphones and tablets for children:
Physical health risks: Overuse of mobile devices can cause physical health problems such as neck and back pain, headaches, eye strain and sleep disorders.
Addiction: Children who spend too much time on mobile devices may become addicted and have difficulty controlling their usage.
Delayed development: Excessive screen time can negatively impact a child’s cognitive and emotional development, leading to delays in language, social and emotional skills.
Poor academic performance: Recent studies suggest that excessive screen time may negatively affect academic performance in children. In many cases, parents request to school management and teachers to ask their children not to overuse of devices in the home.
Cyberbullying: Mobile devices can provide a platform for cyberbullying, which can have serious emotional and psychological consequences for children.
Social isolation: Overuse of mobile devices can lead to social isolation, reducing opportunities for face-to-face interactions with family and friends.
It’s hard but to mitigate these risks, it is important for parents to monitor and limit their child’s screen time, encourage physical activity and face-to-face interactions, and provide age-appropriate educational content. Additionally, parents can establish clear rules and expectations around device usage and model healthy technology habits themselves.
Potential ways to control uses of mobile device
Use parental controls: Most mobile devices have built-in parental controls that allow you to restrict access to certain apps or features, set time limits, and monitor usage.
Set screen time limits: Determine a reasonable amount of screen time for your child based on their age and needs, and establish clear rules around when and for how long they can use their device.
Encourage outdoor activities: Encourage your child to engage in physical activities and outdoor play to reduce their screen time and promote healthy habits.
Promote family time: Set aside dedicated family time without mobile devices, such as family dinners or game nights.
Create device-free zones: Establish areas of the house, such as bedrooms or mealtime areas, where mobile devices are not allowed.
Model healthy behavior: Set a good example for your child by limiting your own screen time and prioritizing face-to-face interactions.
Provide educational content: Choose age-appropriate apps and games that promote learning and development. Many Nepali parents don’t know about the freely available appropriate contents. In such case, parents can take suggestion from neighbours or relatives.
Establish clear rules and expectations: Set clear rules around when and for how long child can use mobile device, and establish consequences for breaking these rules.
Monitor usage: Regularly check child’s device usage and enforce the rules the family have set.
Model healthy behavior: Set a good example for children by limiting your own screen time and prioritizing face-to-face interactions. We see that all the members of the family tend to watch devices anytime, anywhere. This behavior is hazardous to create favorable environment in any house.
Have open communication: Have open and honest conversations with children about the risks associated with excessive screen time and the importance of healthy habits.
By implementing these strategies, parents can help their children develop healthy habits around mobile device use and reduce the risks associated with excessive screen time.