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Limiting Children’s Use of Tech Gadget for Optimal Growth

Fri, Feb. 24, 2017 Posted: 06:30 AM

As a dad, Apple's founder, Steve Jobs, was not a fan of the iPad for his kids, but he was not the only technology junkie to act like that. Technology object developers prohibit their child from even using them in their rooms. It’s a paradox but very healthy attitude to follow.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, in its policy statement of 2013 entitled "Children, Adolescents, and the Media," published some interesting figures. On average, American children aged 8 to 10 spend eight hours a day in front of various screens, and adolescents spend 11 hours a day. While television remains the most popular screen, tablets, phones and computers are gradually taking over with news stream.

The most serious issue, according to the authors of the study, is that parents do not seem to understand the danger of this excessive consumption. "We give screens to our children all day to distract them instead of teaching them to self-appease and calm down," regrets Catherine Steiner-Adair, a Harvard psychologist, author of the bestseller "The Big Disconnect: Child protection and family relations in the digital age."

It was when I was shopping for a gift for my young cousin's newborn child that I realized the omnipresence of exploiting parents' insecurity for their young children; a carpet that sends information on baby breathing, monitors with video cameras, software that allows you to see remotely what happens in baby’s room... Wow!

Worrying about your child is perfectly normal. It is even a well-adapted parental reflex. Indeed, questioning whether the child is cold, whether it has eaten enough, if it has a pain somewhere is not only healthy, but perfectly normal. An infant needs caring parents to develop with serenity. But many new technology companies offer services that surpass the real needs of new parents and exploit their sense of insecurity, which can turn into anxiety.

Before age two, no children should be exposed to electronic media, argues the American Academy of Pediatrics because "a child's brain develops rapidly in those early years and young children learn better by Interacting with people, not with the screens."

As for other children and teenagers, they should not spend more than an hour or two a day in front of the entertainment media, and preferably in the presence of quality content. They should spend more time outdoors, read a book or give free rein to their imagination, experts recommend.
Impact on behavior and academic performance

The intensive use of screens can also affect the behavior, health and educational outcomes of children, according to Dimitri Christakis A. of the Seattle Children's Research Institute.

Thus, children who spend a lot of time in front of violent content (video games or television) are more aggressive and more inclined to fight with their classmates, as well as to respond to their teacher, according to a study published in the Youth and adolescence Journal.

Educational outcomes may also suffer when digital media encroach on reading time and learning. In addition, the sedentary nature of these activities, combined with the influence of advertisements for high calorie foods, can promote weight gain.

Lynn Joesph