Little girl suffers eyesight problems after prolonged mobile phone use
We knew that mobile phones were bad for our babies, but not this bad...
The rise of technology has seen many new issues popping up for families, including those related to kids’ social development. You’ve seen how anti-social children can get with a device in their hands, right? But there’s another bad effect of mobile phone use by kids, and it’s more serious than you can imagine.
Recently, one father in Thailand found out the hard way that letting his daughter play with his mobile phone had more harmful effects than good. He shared his experience in a Facebook post and warns other parents about the dangers of excessive mobile phone use – especially for toddlers.
Dad warns of the bad effect of mobile phone usage on toddlers
In his Facebook post, the dad explains that he started to give his two-year-old daughter his mobile phone to play with, as a way of keeping her occupied while he worked. But soon, health problems started to emerge, which he didn’t immediately link with her excessive device use.
It started off with eye issues and she had to wear glasses. But her eyesight gradually degenerated and at age four, the child had to undergo surgery because her vision had worsened. He eventually discovered that her prolonged and uncontrolled device-use was to blame.
The dad now realises that the excessive use of smartphones by kids can have serious health consequences on them.
Here’s the original Facebook post below:
เคยได้ยินข่าวกันมาบ่อย แต่ก็มาเจอกับตัวเองจนได้จอปีศาจ เลี้ยงลูกกะมือถือ ไอแพด ตอนสองขวบ ดูแลเค้าไม่ทันบางทีก็…
Update: The girl now continues to wear glasses but seems to have made a full recovery from the surgery, as seen from her father’s Facebook page.
Bad effect of mobile phone usage on children
Dr Rawat Sichangsirikarn, an Associate Professor of Paediatrics in Bangkok, says that mobile phones have become part of our daily lives and play a role in reshaping them.
But while they may benefit both young and old in gaining new information and communicating quickly, it is also a double-edged sword because of the harmful side effects.
This is particularly serious when adults allow their young children to use smart technology like smartphones and tablets for long periods of time. Without any limits, excessive screen time can have serious consequences on a child’s physical and mental health.
Using unknown apps and unlimited freedom to the internet can also put children at risk. For instance, they can access dangerous and inappropriate social networks, or be exposed to pornographic websites and online predators and paedophiles.
How can playing smartphones and tablets affect a child’s development?
Using a smart gadget for too long can affect a child’s physical, mental and emotional well-being in a variety of ways.
- Watching screens on smartphones and gadgets for long periods of time raises the risk of eye conditions like myopia and eye fatigue.
- Children can experience less sleep and are less able to focus. This leads to an unhealthy sleep cycle as kids sleep more during the day and less at night. In fact, for every 15 minutes the child uses a smart device, they lose 60 minutes of sleep.
- Young kids develop longer speech delays with increased screen time.
- Children can experience various physical problems such as weight loss/gain (from lack of movement and staring at screens), insomnia, headaches, poor nutrition and eyesight problems.
- Children with mental health problems and behavioural changes, and depression.
- They might also become aggressive and easily irritable if parents don’t give them access to smartphones or tablets. Irritability will also affect other skills – particularly EF (executive function), in terms of restraint, thinking, and emotional control. These skills form the basis for future success.
- Kids can develop various mental problems, like anxiety, loneliness, guilt, self-isolation, depression, mood swings and agitation. Exposure to smart gadgets may also raise the risk of ADHD and autism in kids, too.
Children who are exposed to smart gadgets for prolonged periods of time miss crucial opportunities to develop other basics, important skills. For example, they don’t learn to play independently or with their peers, learn to think independently, read widely and write often. These are social skills which are very important for future growth.
Are there any screen time guidelines for kids?
As much as you want to implement a zero screen time policy, it might not be feasible in this day and age. We can restrict our children from as much screen time as possible at home, but there are instances where they will be exposed to it outside of your homes.
However, if you do choose to allow your kids screen time at home, here are some useful guidelines by AAP, to prevent toddler screen time addiction:
- Babies younger than 18 months – Avoid the use of screen media other than video chatting (with family members)
- Toddlers aged 18 to 24 months – Choose high-quality programming. Parents should watch it with their children to help them understand what they are seeing.
- Preschoolers aged two to five years – Limit screen use to 1 hour per day, and to high-quality programmes. Parents should co-view with children.
- Children aged six and older – Place consistent limits on time spent using media, the types of media and ensure it does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviours essential to health
Parents, we know that it’s difficult to raise a child without a smartphone or tablet nowadays. However, there are some ways to make things better. Read more on tips to limit smartphone usage here or make quality time with technology.
This article on the bad effect of mobile phone usage was originally written in Thai. It was translated and adapted into English by Kevin Wijaya Oey, and republished with the permission of theAsianparent Thailand.