Phones are portable robots that our kids carry in their pockets. Kids are attached and loyal to their smartphones.
They spend many hours scrolling on the screens, communicating, watching videos, and playing games. It seems like turning phones off is not an option. But what are the effects of kids’ excessive phone usage?
Mental Health Consequences of Excessive Phone Use in Kids
Kids’ excessive phone usage makes them active participants in the virtual world and cuts them from real life, family, and friends. Spending many hours on phones contributes to kids’ isolation and interferes with their social life.
Due to these withdrawals, low communication, and hindered face-to-face interaction, kids’ begin to feel lonely, unhappy, and stressed.
One thing leads to another, and all these suppressed emotions make children tense, impulsive, frustrated, anxious, and depressed.
Expert studies have also justified the claim that phones and other tech devices can cause depression in children.
Physical Health Implications of Kids Using Phones Excessively
Children damage their physical health when they use their phones all day. They spend many hours sitting on or laying in their beds, which is unhealthy.
Physical inactivity for hours, days, and weeks lowers children’s muscle development, bone strength, and fitness.
The lack of physical activities highers the risks of cardio diseases, high blood pressure, obesity, low self-esteem, and other health issues.
Besides physical health issues, studies have shown that excessive phone usage affects kids’ sleeping patterns.
The blue light emitted from the screens confuses their brain, and instead of sleeping like babies, they don’t sleep at all.
Kids then feel tired and lose interest in school, family, and friends, and lower their chances for a successful academic performance and future profession.
How Excessive Phone Use Impacts Kids
As we said, kids’ excessive phone usage influences their academic performance. Kids use their phones during studying, which can easily distract them.
Due to all of the phone notifications, they can’t concentrate and focus on learning and start showing poor academic performance.
Also, the lack of face-to-face interaction lowers their communication and social skills and decreases empathy, which makes our kids incapable of human interaction.
They don’t know how to react to other people’s concerns and develop impulsive and immature behavior followed by tantrums and social anxiety.
Behavioral Changes and Addiction Risks in Kids Using Phones Excessively
Kids spend a lot of time on their phones. And they use most of this time to play video games. You probably remember a time when playing video games was a reward for good behavior or grades, but now video games are an inseparable part of our kids’ life.
Many parents are truly concerned and link video games time with isolation, anger, stress, insomnia, and depression.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, kids’ gaming addiction can cause a mental disorder named Online Gaming Disorder. So, games are not as innocent as we thought. Too much time spent on phones makes our kids disoriented, absent from reality, defocused, and confused.
Health Concerns Associated with Excessive Phone Use in Kids
Excessive smartphone usage has implications for kids’ health. We can’t ignore that constantly staring causes vision problems and eye strain.
The sedentary position during smartphone usage damages kids’ musculoskeletal functions and causes curvature of the spine, which may lead to growth problems.
Also, smartphone radiation gives parents/caregivers another concern, especially its effect on long-term diseases such as cancer.
Impact on Social Skills and Relationships
Excessive smartphone usage decreases face-to-face interaction and communication. Kids become introverted and don’t show empathy, which is crucial for the communicative process.
Kids that don’t interact verbally often develop poor feedback and don’t recognize and understand eye contact, body language, and voice tone.
They are passive listeners and get lost in their thoughts while communicating. Due to this, kids have difficulties gaining and maintaining relationships, especially with their peers (nobody wants to talk with a wall).
How to Prevent Phone Addiction in Kids
Dealing with kids’ smartphone addiction is a challenge for every parent/caregiver. Be polite, friendly, and point out the effects of phones on their health, academic performance, and social status.
Sometimes an open conversation with your kids won’t provide the wanted results, and they won’t agree with your terms.
So, setting strict boundaries and rules for limiting screen time is the right thing to do. Kids can’t give up on their smartphones easily but here are some tips to limit your kids’ smartphone usage:
- Don’t allow your kids to use their phones during meals, learning, and bedtime;
- Encourage your kids to take courses for expanding their knowledge (design, language, maths, science, drawing);
- Include your kids in extracurricular activities;
- Encourage your kids to value outdoor activities and walking, cycling, or jogging;
- Teach your kids gardening, which provides calmness and a connection to nature;
The most important thing in today’s modern world is to teach your kids to control their excessive smartphone usage.
Treat your smartphones as simple gadgets that help you around. Be responsible users, and don’t forget that money can buy everything except health.
So, go outside, breathe fresh air, or play some board games. Phones can break, but family memories last forever.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can Excessive Phone Use Affect a Child’s Brain Development?
Children’s excessive smartphone usage lowers their thinking and cognitive abilities and causes sleep disruption.
How much Screen Time is Considered Excessive for Kids?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than two hours is considered excessive screen time.
Are Educational Apps Beneficial or Detrimental for Kids?
Interactive educational apps that contain high-quality content, such as puzzles, maths, vocabulary, and problem-solving games, are beneficial for kids’ development.
What Are the Signs of Phone Addiction in Children?
Children that are phone addicted manifest some of the following signs:
- They never leave their phones and constantly stare at the screens;
- Tantrums and aggressive reactions when you take away their phone;
- Behavioral changes and habits;
- Low verbal communication and avoiding social gatherings;
- Uncontrolled emotions, anger, and frustration;
- Lack of concentration and focus on learning lessons;
How Can Parents Encourage Healthy Phone Use Habits in Kids?
Parents can encourage healthy phone use habits in kids by understanding their children, having two-sided conversations, setting screen time rules, and engaging children in tech-free activities.