Mobile Phones Usage in Children

Mobile Usage in Children

All of us are worried about our children using mobile phones and other electronic gadgets. Mobile phones are one of the greatest discoveries of humankind, but they have to be used judiciously. We grew up in an era where there were no mobile phones, television, or computers, but we all did fine.

As parents, we can train our children to make the best use of phones without getting into trouble, with a little planning and firmness.

Due to restructuring the brain during the teenage years, individuals below 21 don’t have control over their emotions and rationally monitor their emotions. When parents are too firm or with a let-go attitude, children are vulnerable to risk taking behavior. No amount of argument and convincing will change that. We have to handle them with unconditional love and by being nonjudgemental.

With this understanding, let us see how to handle mobile phone usage in children. We all know the advantages of using mobiles: communication in emergencies, an opportunity for social contacts, especially during these COVID-19 times. Mobiles lend us an ability to gain immense knowledge for personal and academic use. Entertainment media, like YouTube, games, sports, movies, etc., are now at our fingertips. Let us try to restrict the usage for these purposes by setting up a contract with our youngsters.

Due to such immense potential mobiles offer us, mobiles can be channeled by kids for instant gratification. Studies suggest that too much screen time reduces attention span, so parents should serve as role models in this aspect and motivate children to limit their screen time.

Too much time on mobiles can cause several lifestyle diseases like obesity, decreased sleep, and hamper development in the socio-emotional and linguistic front. This can also lead to turning back on studies and hence poor academic performance. Cell phone usage may lead to long term serious health problems as they emit radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation.

The ideal age to initiate children into mobile phone usage should be mostly 20 yrs. However, looking at the present situation, try to delay it at least till 16 yrs. Before buying the phone, it is a good idea to have an understanding or a written contract regarding phone usage. Communicate openly regarding all the risks involved. Parents should monitor the child’s mobile and internet usage, but keep in mind too much intruding may lead to discord with your young one. So balance is important in the form of a contract. Be your child’s social media friend to keep tabs on what they are posting. Parents should make children understand safe websites, recognize cyberbullying, risks of sexting, digital footprint, and the risks of communicating with strangers. 

Family media management is important. Parents must be role models in how they use their phones as kids are great mimics. Homework time, mealtime, family time, and sleep time should be phone-free times. There should be a fixed time for internet usage for yourself as well as your children. If you respect your rules, so will the children.

One day a week, all gadgets to be turned off so that the whole family can interact with each other. Encourage children to play outdoors, engage them in hobbies – you can tap online resources for the same.

Phones should be kept in airplane mode whenever possible. Wi-Fi should be turned off when not required to prevent radiations. Good to maintain a distance of 6 to 10 mm between the phone and the body. Never keep the phone in pockets or touching the body; keep them in purses or backpacks.

If we want a happy society with generous and compassionate children, we have to guide our children to balance virtual and real life

Dr. Uma Rao

About the Author: Dr. Uma Rao is a practicing pediatrician in Bangalore for the past 30 years, Her special interest is in adolescent health. She is a voluntary doctor in Youth for Seva, Doctors for Seva group, and at Project StepOne.

Dr. Uma Rao


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