6 Tips to Keep Your Child Away From The Harmful Effects Of Mobile Phones
Arun Sharma 6 Mins Read
Written For ParentCircle Website new design update
Worried about your child's excessive use of the mobile phone? Afraid it might turn into an obsession? Here's how to keep your child safe.
On 4 July 2017, Indians woke up to this shocking headline in The Indian Express, "Nine-year-old cuts arm with a knife in 'youngest case' of dependence".
It brought us face-to-face with the fact that some young children are so dependent on the mobile phone that they can't stay away from it for even a few minutes.
Several parents are now asking questions such as:
'What can I do to prevent my child from mobile phone overuse?'
'How can I keep my child away from a mobile phone?'
'How can I stop my child from turning into a mobile phone addict?'
While the problem is raising concerns worldwide, solutions are hidden in plain sight. Here are some simple things you can do to keep your child away from mobile phones.
Adverse effects of mobile phones
As a parent, you should be aware of the detrimental effects of mobile phones on children. Here's a list of side effects of excessive use of the mobile phone in children:
- Behavioral problems
- Addiction to the gadget
- Sleep disturbances
- Attention and hearing issues
- Problems of the nervous system
In addition to the list mentioned above, smartphones have adverse effects—exposure to harmful electromagnetic waves and radiation.
How to regulate the use of mobile phones
- Keep your child engaged: With shrinking play spaces, more and more children are forced to stay indoors. As a result, children spend their time playing with toys. Some also get hooked to gadgets like smartphones, which also double up as entertainment devices. To prevent this from happening, take your child out to the park or a nearby playground to spend time running and playing. If that is not an option, enroll him in a neighborhood sports club, or take him on regular walks to explore the wonders of nature. A growing awareness of the environment could spark his curiosity and capture his imagination.
- Restrict the use: As smartphones are now an inseparable part of our lives, it is difficult to keep them away from children. Sooner or later, your child may begin using your mobile phone but you wouldn't want her to get hooked to the device. Therefore, make your child understand that she can use your smartphone provided that you have discussed the rules around its usage. Discourage its use during mealtimes, study hours, bedtime, or when it's time to go out and play.
- Talk to your child: The vibrant colors and animations appearing on the smartphone screen appear attractive to children. Talk to your child about what she likes to watch. Have her describe the characters, relate the story. When it's time to switch off the phone, extend the experience by enacting the story.
- Set passwords: It is not always possible for you to be around your child to dissuade him from using a smartphone. In such a situation, technology can come to your rescue. Set a password on your phone so that your child cannot use it while you are away.
- Set a good example: Many parents spend a lot of time on their smartphones. In such cases, telling children to not use the mobile may not help, as they are bound to follow in their parents' footsteps. So, be a good role model for your child by limiting your mobile phone usage. However, if your profession demands high mobile usage, explain it to your child.
- Bond with your child: Although most parents lead very busy lives, it is important to take the time out for bonding with children. Playing board games or engaging your child along with you in activities such as cooking or gardening will make her feel valued and useful. Thus she will stop using the smartphone to escape from loneliness. You can also encourage your child to pursue hobbies like doing simple science experiments, listening to music, reading, creative writing, art, or painting.
- Vidya Sury, writer, editor, and award-winning blogger, says: My all-time favorite tip is to 'lead by example', as it is often a case of, 'Children see, Children do'.
When my son was growing up, we had house rules that all of us followed. We made it a point to spend time together-walking, playing, and eating. For, each one of us was busy with work/school for most of the day.
After dinner, we read a book together. Reading together is a wonderful activity, as its benefits are many. It helps build vocabulary, develop reading and writing skills, and so on. Being physically active through play is another effective way to minimize smartphone time for children. And, finally, explain to children in an age-appropriate way why sitting glued to a screen is bad for health.
I remember a recent picture someone sent me of a family get-together where all the ten members were busy with their phones. How ironic! A get-together where each person is busy with the phone!
How to protect kids from smartphone radiation
Apart from following the above-mentioned tips to keep your child away from the mobile phone, you can also do the following to protect him from the harmful effects of mobile phone radiation.
- Buy a mobile phone with a low radiation level: With the use of smartphones becoming unavoidable, it is better to buy one with a low Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) value. The SAR value is the amount of radiation absorbed per kilogram of body tissue. You can check a phone's SAR value by dialing *#07#. The maximum SAR level allowed in India is 1.6 W/kg.
- Avoid use while traveling: Keep your smartphone away from your child while traveling in a moving vehicle, like a car, bus or train. A mobile phone in a moving vehicle keeps scanning for the signal and, in the process, emits more radiation.
- Opt for the land-line: Many times, it so happens that those with whom you are speaking may request you to let your child speak to them. Politely tell such callers that you will call them back from your landline phone and hand it over to your child to speak to them.
Researchers believe that children are more likely to be affected by mobile phone radiation than adults. As children have a small head and a thin skull, it makes it easier for the radiation emitted by these gadgets to penetrate deeper into the brain. Also, children may be more affected by mobile phones as their brains are still developing. With new research shedding more light on the harmful effects of mobile phones on children, several countries have issued warnings against children using mobile phones. It's high time we took measures to protect our children from the harmful effects of these devices.
Although a smartphone is truly a gadget of convenience you and your child stand to gain by how well you regulate your gadget usage. So, keep the mobile aside and spend some quality family time.