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What Every Parent Should Know: How Smartphones Destroy Children's Brain

Published: August 11, 2015
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Over 2 billion people now own smartphones and use their devices on a daily basis. Recent studies find that an average person checks their screen 150 times a day.

In the Western world, 56 percent of children between the ages of 10 to 13, own a smartphone. While that fact alone may come as a shock, it is estimated that 25 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 5 have a smartphone.

Everyone has seen it, and maybe you're even guilty of it yourself! You're dining at a restaurant when you see a family with young children. The children are quiet, but it's not because they're eating or they're listening to their parents. It's because their eyes are glued to some sort of electronic device.

Although electronics can be excellent for education and games, they can also be a crutch for parents and caretakers. If a parent uses tablets, phones, or computers to keep their child engaged, they may come to rely on these tools instead of being a hands-on parent. Find out what screen time can do to your kids.

The Increase in Screen Time

Screen time wasn't always a problem. Before the advent of smartphones and tablets, kids only had the chance to watch television. With outside time, outings, and school, it was uncommon for kids to spend more than a little bit of time with a screen at any given time.However, statistically, most kids spend hours in front of various screens every day!

This is very harmful, particularly during the first three years of a child's life. The American Association of Pediatricians does not recommend any screen time prior to the age of two, but by the age of two, 90% of kids watch television regularly. The screen time a child gets continues to increase as they age.

You can see the effects by looking at today's teenagers, who often have difficulty communicating in real life. Look at a group of teenagers and you'll see that most, if not all, are on their phones, rather than paying attention to each other.

Screens At Every Turn

Part of the danger comes with how widely available electronic devices are. Many homes have multiples televisions, smartphones, tablets, and laptops, making it incredibly easy for a kid to have access to a screen whenever they want. Even worse, many manufacturers are catering to increased screen time by producing kid-friendly tablets and devices.

When a child has their own device and their access to it is not restricted, they may take in far more media than what is appropriate.

What Screen Time Does to a Child's Brain

Let's get one thing straight: educational TV and games are a hoax when you're talking about babies and toddlers. Simply put, kids at this age do not get anything from educational material delivered electronically. They are better off learning from hands-on play and reading.

Children should be interacting with caregivers or other people the vast majority of the time. Young children are designed to learn from human interaction, which is taken away from them when they learn from screens.When your child is staring at a screen, their verbal skills, emotional development, and attention may be suffering.

These effects last well into the school years, making it difficult for kids to learn appropriately in school, pay attention, and build strong emotional connections.Though limiting your kids' screen time may be difficult, it is an effort that pays off in many different ways.

Next time you want to hand your child a device to help them calm down, try a book or conversation instead.

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