Children whose lives are typically contained within the four walls of a screen.
“How come your kids haven’t come with you today?”
“Oh, they’re digital kiddiewinks through and through.”
If you have a little rugrat of your own or have one on the way, you should know that your little one will be part of a generation of true-blue digital denizens. A generation often dubbed Generation Alpha, this newest tribe of technology-lovin’ tots has embraced digital media in every form. From Kindle-supplied storybooks to smartphone-turned-playgrounds, kids today are enveloped in technology. And while slipping your tyke a smartphone on a grocery trip or a game-stocked tablet during a family get-together can serve as a wonderful plug, it can be an addictive alternative to conventional entertainment and educational formats.
A recently conducted study found that up to 50% of Indian children and teens develop spinal problems due to technology overuse; an alarming statistic considering the future is tipped towards a veritable technology explosion. If your little one can slide open your smartphone faster than greased lightning, you know it’s time to taper the technology consumption in your home.
Here are five reasons why.
Your toddler’s brain will triple in size by adulthood. Yet, research suggests that too many gadgets and gizmos can hamper brain growth and can even lead to conditions like attention deficit disorder, cognitive impairment, delayed learning, impulsive behaviour and reduced self-control. As challenging as it may seem, it isn’t hard to limit your child’s exposure to technology. Pick engaging activities to keep your tot occupied through the day; singing, reading and dancing are always better options than singular screen time.
14.4 million children in India struggle with obesity, the second highest number in the world, after China. Obesity presents a national public health crisis in the country; one spawned by increasingly unhealthy eating habits and sedentary lifestyles. Obesity can give rise to life-threatening complications, such as diabetes, heart attack, weak bones and stroke. The best way to keep your child’s weight in check is by building a healthy roster of physical activities. Encourage your tiny to run, jump and explore the outdoors. Playgrounds are the seedbed for childhood friendships and physical activity in equal measure. You’ll also find your toddler meeting milestones and developing communication skills more easily through social interactions. Keep technology for later; for once your child is old enough to use it responsibly and in moderation.
In 2011, the World Health Organisation released a report that classified mobile phones and other hands-free devices under the 2B Risk Category, due to their radiation emission. While wireless signals surround us everywhere we go, it’s important to restrict the radio frequency generation in your home. Trimming your digital ecosystem is a good start. For example, you could keep your tablet and laptop use limited to when your tot is in preschool, and keep your smartphone out of reach at other times. Remember, your child will not crave technology unless you make it a habit.
Everybody knows that screens spell bad news for your child’s eyes. Not only does extended exposure lead to strained eyes, but eyesight can also be severely impacted by inordinate screen time. Eyesight of kids is stimulated by observing elements at varying distances, something that is hindered by the prolonged use of small screens at short distances. Studies suggest that computer games can also lead to childhood eye problems.
Reduced Quality Sleep
Compulsive use of gadgets can turn your child into a raging machine-craving monster, especially when deprived on certain days. Whichever way you look at it, digital addiction can set your little one back by several hours of quality sleep. Instead, resort to creating a bedtime routine that pivots on quality snuggle time. Use bedtime stories, lullabies and cuddles as your weapons of choice.
Growing up in a digital world is a marvellous thing. After all, technology has opened up new stories, new experiences and new opportunities for children across the world. Yet, devices are hardly a substitute for rainbows, roses and relationships. There’s more that the outdoors can offer your child than technology ever can. All you have to do is open your front door.