Pediatricians recommend limiting the use of smartphones and tablets to children, establishing clear rules and timelines for their use
Whether they are smartphones or tablets, children are increasingly used to "playing" or relaxing with electronic devices. But, even if they are sometimes used for school and can help with research, you should never overdo it. To remember this, some time ago, were the experts of the Italian Society of Pediatrics. And if during the holidays they let go of the controls, it is time to give some rules, without denying the potential usefulness of the devices.
A few rules to help them
There is a fact that must be warned, and it comes from research conducted at Birbeck University in London, which appeared in Scientific Reports. According to the survey, which examined children under three years of age through a questionnaire carried out with their parents, the most significant "side" effect of any abuse of these tools lies in the possible reduction of the hours devoted to sleep.
According to the survey results, for every hour you pass in front of the light of electronic devices, the time dedicated to rest falls by a quarter of an hour. It is true that you can recover with an afternoon nap, but in school times it is better that the passage in Morpheus' arms is prolonged for the necessary time, also because the night, in addition to providing advice, also helps to memorize, eliminating during the sleep the "useless" memories that could pile up in the brain.
As mentioned, on the front of the possible "addiction" to tablets, the experts agree. According to Alberto Villani, president of the Italian Society of Pediatrics (Sip), who had issued a warning before the holidays, children and adolescents need to define the perimeter of the use of smartphones, cell phones and the like by children and adolescents.
"We recommend that parents always maintain effective communication with their children, because a good relationship contributes to the proper use of digital technologies – says the expert. But it is also essential to establish clear rules and limits in the use of media devices: ".
Practical advice for dealing with this situation. In the first place it is essential to talk to each other. We need to explain to children what positive and intelligent use of these devices means, paying attention to the content that is published and read and reminding them that it is essential to protect online privacy to protect yourself and your family.
Then the parent should monitor the time their child spends on tablets, smartphones and PCs, first learning the available technologies to be able to understand them as much as possible, playing with them and sharing activities as much as possible.
It is also fundamental to set clear limits and rules. It is necessary to limit the time of use of smartphones, tablets and PCs during the day or on weekends, establishing precise times of prohibition, for example during meals, homework and family gatherings. It is equally important to set a good example: for this reason, mothers and fathers should be the first to limit the use of smartphones when they are with the family and during meals.
If necessary, ask the pediatrician
Hyperactivity concentrated on smartphones can become harmful to mental and physical health. So it is important to talk to the "children's doctor" about the subject. To certify it are a series of recent scientific studies conducted all over the world, collected by the Italian Society of Pediatrics.
Most of the research was conducted in the US and in Asian countries such as China and Korea, which were the first to experience the large-scale diffusion of digital technologies. In Korea – where smartphone addiction is recognized as a real pathology on a par with alcohol or drug addiction – 8.4 percent of adolescents suffer from it.
“The rules apply first of all to parents who should lead by example – recalls Elena Bozzola, National Secretary of SIP. Parents and pediatricians should also pay attention to some alarm bells including frequent back pain, headache, changes in sleep patterns, burning and tearing of the eyes, lack of interest and inability to detach from the smartphone. Furthermore, pediatricians should use pediatric check-ups as a time to investigate these aspects, asking questions about the online life of children, encouraging them to cultivate "real" relationships and informing them about the possible consequences of improper use of the smartphone ".