Gadgets are everywhere in our modern society. They offer many benefits, such as entertainment, education, communication, and convenience. However, they also pose some serious risks to the health and development of children who use them excessively or inappropriately. In this article, we will know five harmful effects of gadgets on kids.
Eye strain and vision problems
One of the most common effects of gadgets to kids is eye strain. Gadgets can cause eye strain, which is when the eyes become weary from using them too much or too long. It can cause symptoms such as dryness, irritation, redness, blurred vision, headaches, and difficulty focusing.
Eye strain is not only uncomfortable but also harmful to the eyesight of children. According to a study by the American Optometric Association, more than 80% of children experience eye strain after using gadgets for more than two hours a day. Another study by the University of California found that children who use gadgets for more than seven hours a day have a higher risk of developing nearsightedness or myopia.
To prevent or reduce eye strain, parents should limit the screen time of their children to no more than two hours a day. They should also adjust the brightness and contrast of the gadgets, use anti-glare screens or filters, keep a proper distance and angle from the gadgets, take frequent breaks and blink often, and visit an eye doctor regularly.
Obesity and physical inactivity
Another effect of gadgets to kids is obesity. It can be caused by gadgets when they reduce physical activity and increase the calorie intake of children. Gadgets can make children sedentary, lazy, bored, and isolated from outdoor activities and social interactions. They can also expose children to unhealthy food advertisements and temptations that can lead to overeating and snacking.
Obesity is not only unattractive but also dangerous to the health of children. n 2016, more than 340 million children and adolescents aged 5-19 were overweight or obese, according to the World Health Organization.
To avoid or lower obesity, parents should inspire their children to join in physical activities such as sports, games, exercises, and hobbies that demand movement and creativity. They should also set limits on the screen time and location of gadgets, provide healthy and balanced meals and snacks for their children, educate them about the importance of nutrition and wellness, and be a good role model for them.
Sleep deprivation and disruption
A third effect of gadgets on kids is sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation is a condition of insufficient sleep that affects the physical and mental health of a person who does not get enough quality sleep. It can be caused by gadgets when they interfere with the natural sleep cycle and patterns of children.
Gadgets can produce blue light that can affect the production of melatonin, a hormone that manages sleep and wakefulness. They can also stimulate the brain and keep children awake with exciting or stressful content such as games, videos, messages, and notifications. According to a study by the National Sleep Foundation, more than 70% of children have at least one gadget in their bedroom at night, and more than 50% of them use it within an hour before bedtime.
Another study by the University of Michigan found that children who use gadgets at night have poorer sleep quality, shorter sleep duration, more daytime sleepiness, and lower academic performance than those who do not. To prevent or reduce sleep deprivation, parents should create a regular bedtime routine and schedule for their children, ban gadgets from the bedroom or turn them off at least an hour before bedtime, use dim lights or curtains to block out any external light sources, avoid caffeine or sugar intake before bedtime, read books or listen to soothing.
Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder
A fourth effect of gadgets to kids is attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs the ability of a person to focus, restrain impulses, and manage their activity level. It can be caused by gadgets when they overload the brain with too much information, stimulation, and distraction.
By using gadgets, children can develop impatience, restlessness, impulsiveness, and boredom. Gadgets can also interfere with the development of the brain’s executive functions, such as planning, organizing, prioritizing, and problem-solving. ADHD is not only frustrating but also challenging to the learning and behavior of children. ADHD can affect the academic, social, and emotional development of children.
To prevent or reduce ADHD, parents should limit the exposure and duration of gadgets for children, especially those under the age of 2, choose age-appropriate and educational content for children, monitor and supervise the use of gadgets by children, teach them how to focus, manage their time and complete their tasks, provide positive feedback and reinforcement for them, and seek professional help if needed.
Cyberbullying and online predators
A fifth effect of gadgets to kids is cyberbullying and online predators. It can involve sending or posting mean, hurtful, threatening, or embarrassing messages, images or videos about someone. Online predators are people who use gadgets and online platforms to exploit, manipulate, harass or harm someone, especially children.
They can pretend to be someone else, lure children into sharing personal information or photos, or meet them in person. Not only are cyberbullying and online predators terrifying, but they also pose a threat to the safety and well-being of children. Cyberbullying and online predators can cause severe psychological trauma, low self-esteem, social isolation, and suicidal thoughts and actions in children.
To prevent or reduce cyberbullying and online predators, parents should educate their children about the dangers and consequences of using gadgets and online platforms irresponsibly or recklessly, set rules and boundaries on the use of gadgets and online platforms by children, check the privacy settings and parental controls of the gadgets and online platforms used by children, report any suspicious or inappropriate activity or content to the authorities or platforms, support and protect their children who are victims or witnesses of cyberbullying or online predators.
Gadgets are useful tools that can benefit children, but they can also negatively impact their health and development if used excessively or inappropriately. Some harmful effects of gadgets on kids are eye strain and vision problems, obesity and physical inactivity, sleep deprivation and disruption, attention deficit, hyperactivity disorder, cyberbullying, and online predators. Parents should be aware of these effects and take preventive measures to ensure their children use gadgets safely, wisely, and moderately. If you want to learn more about how to protect your children from the harmful effects of gadgets, visit our website for more tips and resources.