A recent study conducted in India reveals that more than 30% of the Indian children are spending more than 6 hours per day on ‘smart’ handsets. Doctors worry about the negative health impact the technology has on children.
Aayansh Mukul, a 3-year old Indian boy, is spending all his day staring at his smartphone’s screen, playing games and watching videos on YouTube. His mother faced big problems when she sent her boy to the kindergarten and he refused to leave his phone at home.
Mukul’s case is not a rarity in India, where Philips conducted a survey. The study revealed that more than 30% of the Indians’ children spend, on average, 6 hours on their smart devices. Additionally, 57% of the Indian parents are worrying about the negative health impact the technology has on children, fearing that too much time spent in front of smartphones’ screens will damage children’s eyesight.
The children’s eyesight health is the last one the parents should worry about, doctors say, as the very long time spent on watching videos or playing on smartphones, tablets, or computers can negatively influence kids’ brain development. Specialists say that, in young children, the effect is to negatively influence verbal communication, which is the opposite effect of storytelling or parents-children verbal communication.
“When a child is told a story of a tree and a crow sitting on it, he or she has to imagine the tree and the bird. The picture book helps visualize but the main task of visualization and imagination lies with the kid. The videos and images on the screen don’t allow for this development of the imagination,” Dr. Pethe says.
However, myopia is the major negative impact the technology has on children. A study conducted in Delhi on 1,000 children showed that more than 40% developed myopia due to the time spent on smartphones and tablets. To prevent such damages, the Mayo Clinic promulgated the ’20-20-20′ rule for everyone who spends a lot of time staring at the screen – ‘every 20 minutes, stare at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds’.
To avoid the negative health impacts the technology has on children, parents should involve their kids in different activities such as sports, park walks, and so on.