Mobile devices such as smartphones can have an adverse impact on children just like a heavy diet of TV.
A good article to read is Kids can tune out of real world by Ng Wan Ching on how to minimize the adverse impact of mobile and other electronic devices on young children.
Some useful guidelines offered by Dr Jennifer Kiing and which she uses for her own children.
- No TV, computer time under two years of age.
- After two years of age, children’s use of TV and computer should be judiciously permitted.
For TV viewing, quality programmes are chosen. These usually refer to educational programmes such as Sesame Street, which teaches children social and moral lessons and is not too fast-paced for a developing brain.
Dr Kiing says: ‘For example, we watch the Little Bear series by Maurice Sendak, where characters move and talk very slowly.’
- Sit with the child during TV/computer time so that you can help him contextualise what he sees and hears and make it meaningful.
- Do not using electronic devices as a baby sitter.
It is better to put a young child in a playpen and have music playing (rather than have any exposure to visual imagery which is not closely monitored) if a parent or caregiver is busy.
Strategies may include:
- Timed access to the device, with either parent monitoring or having the device automatically time out.
- Limiting access to Internet websites.
- Limiting access to YouTube (which is really limiting TV access).
- Limiting the number and type of games available on the electronic device.
- Limiting use of devices to weekends.
- Regulating the use of the device on weekends and holidays.