Effects of Smartphones on Child Development

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Modern life does not stand still. On the contrary, it promptly rushes behind technological progress. Scrutinizing current time – the era of mass media, scientific breakthroughs and technological inventions, one can easily deduce that all mentioned-above factors can essentially transform the human psychology. To exemplify, a few years ago, people even could not think of such a problem as the dependence on smartphones. Nowadays, nevertheless, this issue is widely discussed, as the smartphones have become an essential part of many children's life. Despite the fact that these items of the technological progress are comfortable and interesting to use, they predominantly affect children not in the best way.

Therefore, it worth stressing one more time that an environment plays an extremely significant role in emerging of smartphones' addiction in children. The school is one of the factors that substantially contributes to the excessive usage of the smartphones. Besides, such an overuse is often associated with the children's low progress at school: instead of studying, they play games at the lessons. A great number of schools prohibit the usage of phones during the lessons. The consequence of such a ban was that the test scores of the students aged 16 improved by 6.4% (Doward, 2015).

 

A period of childhood and adolescence can be the most difficult in life as young people learn how to communicate and interact with each other. However, all children are different in nature, among them there are a lot of those who cannot make friends due to their natural timidity and shyness. Such children tend to overuse the smartphones because of inability to establish the desired contact with others in reality: they consider it much easier to make virtual friends than the real ones. Adults can also be a reason of smartphones' overuse by children. To specify, the elder generation often does not understand the younger generation: consequently, the latter one prefers spending time playing a game or chatting with friends online to communicating with adults.

Furthermore, parents' behavior is also considered a key factor in the issue of children's usage of smartphones. It is primarily the lack of communication and warm emotional relations in the family that causes child's addiction to the smartphone. To put it differently, a child finds the consolation in smartphones when he/she experiences a sense of loneliness, the lack of attention and understanding on the part of parents. Formation of smartphone addiction is also associated with the peculiarities of upbringing and family relationships. In simple words, parents often do not give full attention to their child: sometimes, it is easier to buy a smartphone to keep a child busy than to be concerned about his/her hobbies and interests.

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Considering the problems that the overuse of smartphones can cause, one should highlight an obesity. To illustrate, in children who are allowed to use the device in a bedroom, the incidence of obesity is increased. The latter one, in its turn, increases the risk of such serious medical conditions as stroke and heart attack. Another negative effect of smartphones' overuse is the disturbance of sleep in children and adolescents. Moreover, sleep disorders may be accompanied by talks during sleep, nightmares, sleepwalking, and bedwetting. In the article Over-use of iPads, iPhones and Smart Screens Hurting Kids, Kim Knull (2015) claims that the smartphones can actually damage the mental health of the child. Children using mobile phones can become depressed, unmotivated, and angry. Moreover, they might suffer even from more severe mental disorders. In addition, mobile-addicted children tend to experience problems with studying, as it is quite difficult for them to concentrate on the lessons.

Finally, another negative effect of excessive usage of smartphones is the abnormal changes in children's behavior. Consider an illustration, children often experience aggressive behavior playing games on smartphones and computers. Thereafter, cruelty in virtual games starts being reflected in real life. In such a way, a child receives a finished pattern of behavior, which he/she actively implements in the surrounding reality. Furthermore, smartphones' addiction frequently becomes a reason for the deterioration of relations in the family. Family members no longer communicate with each other and rarely discuss their problems. In such a way, each of them, especially, a child becomes more reserved and prefers to share secrets with friends than with parents. Wilkie (2015) claims that people do not have face-to-face communication in their families anymore. Nevertheless, a child does need live communication for normal development. Due to the widespread mobile phone's addiction, a special medical term nomophobia has been created. Actually, it is an abbreviation for no-mobile-phone phobia, which was described by experts as the state of anxiety and even panic in a person who, for some reason, lost an opportunity to use a mobile phone for a certain period of time. Nowadays, doctors refer to nomophobia quite seriously. Its symptoms usually include the inability to leave a phone even for a short period of time, worries about possible discharging of the battery, permanent control over messages and e-mail, as well as the regular increase in communication costs. Moreover, doctors believe that in regard to psychological dependence, nomophobia is similar to such diseases as alcoholism, drug addiction, and gambling. As a disease, smartphone's addiction is compensatory in nature as a child tries to cope with his/her personal problems via the phone.

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In conclusion, modern adults and even children cannot imagine their life without a smartphone. Just recently, not everyone could afford to buy it, but nowadays, almost everyone, including children, has this multifunctional piece of technology. There is no doubt that a smartphone has become a symbol of modern life. Indeed, with numerous functions and interesting games, it can always keep a child busy and, thus, prevent him/her from disturbing the parents. However, parents frequently do not think about the harm they bring to the child when allowing mobile phone's overuse. It is highly important to stress that parents should strictly limit the time, during which the child uses a smartphone. Moreover, they should focus child's attention predominantly on outdoor games and pastime in nature. Finally, it is necessary to control the time that a child spends socializing through new technologies since it negatively influences the development of psychological and physical skills of young people.

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