Why Kids Shouldn’t Have Electronics

Posted by in Health Matters

smartphoneReaders of this blog know my views on kids and electronics; the two don’t mix. But now I want to make the case for why. We all know why kids have smartphones. (To make things easier, I’ll use smartphone to refer to both those devices and tablets.) They’re fun. Johnny has one. They are the new electronic babysitter.

Childhood Obesity

Let’s not mince words. Our kids are fat and continue to get fatter. And it’s easy to see why. You don’t exercise when you’re playing games or watching videos. Kids are losing the weight war because they are not active enough.

This isn’t a new concept. KidsHealth.org has warned us about childhood obesity for years, only TV was the culprit. Starting out life obese sets up a behavior pattern that can become impossible to break. Think of how hard it is to lose weight now as adults.

Brain Development

Growing up isn’t just a matter of reaching puberty and adult height. Body systems and organs continue to develop until a child reaches 20 or so years. The lack of stimulation of the outside environment can impair this development.

It goes back to not enough exercise as well. Exercise has profound health benefits that also affect the nervous system. A study published in the journal, Psychiatria Polska, found that exercise can affect levels of anxiety and depression. It can also influence the physiological responses to stress. Do really want our kids to be more vulnerable to stress and poor mental health?

Myopia Epidemic

The effects on the nervous system also extend into sensory development. Myopia or near-sightedness has skyrocketed in recent years. A study by Ohio State University College of Optometry identified screen time as the culprit. Kids are fixated on the close-up rather than the world around them. And this, in turn, affects sight.

Having corrected vision is more than an inconvenience; it’s a vulnerability. Contacts pose the increased risk of eye infections. Glasses can weaken vision over time because your eye muscles aren’t as active. These facts speak nothing of the added cost of seeing well.

Other Factors

There are numerous other factors that make the case for kids not having smartphones. There is the exposure to violence from games. There is insomnia and poor sleep from using smartphones at night. Poor sleep, by the way, is another risk factor for obesity.

And perhaps even more disturbing is the impact on communication. A child staring at a smartphone is not interacting with family or friends. Online “friends” don’t count. As Kasper Gutman said,

“Talking’s something you can’t do judiciously, unless you keep in practice.”

Think of the implications down the road. At the very least, children are being set up for a harder time communicating and functioning. They are vulnerable to a host of chronic health conditions like diabetes and hypertension because of obesity. All of this negatively affects their quality of life.

We owe our kids more.

http://roadtowellness.weborglodge.com/By Chris DR

photo credit: Nokia N95 8GB rear view via photopin (license)