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Smartphones, tablets, and the negative effects on children

The use of these devices at an early age “causes lack of interaction and impairs the healthy development of their senses”, pediatricians around the world are saying.

SOURCES La Vanguardia AUTHOR Evangelical Focus MADRID 13 NOVEMBER 2017 19:39 h GMT+1
Photo: Olga Nezemnaya (Flickr CC)

According to the study “Toys and games trends in Spanish families”, carried out by the Technological Institute of Children's Product and Leisure (AIJU in Spanish), parents give their children mobile phones at an early age, and half of the children between one and two year old already use them, especially to see videos of catoons or children's songs.

In addition, more than 50% of the children between 1 and 12 years old spend at least four hours a week in front of the television.

32% spend between one and two hours more to entertain themselves with the tablet, although the time dedicated to this device rises above four hours after they become 11 years old.

The 77% of the respondents say that they are "much" or "very much" concerned. But these parents would still give the devices to the minors, which is  affecting the time the children dedicate to other activities, such as playing with toys.



The traditional game is still the main activity of the children until the age of three, but it is being relegated as they grow until it becomes almost testimonial from age 8 on.

According to the study data, at that age, three out of ten children spend more than four hours a week playing with toys. At 11, the number falls to two in ten. At 12, only nine out of every hundred.

"The age range in which children are interested in dolls and traditional games continues to fall, although manufacturers are introducing board games and toys that combine technological elements with real ones to capture children of higher ages, and to respond to parents' interest in having instruments that allow them to participate in the game with their children and have fun together", explains Maria Costa, director of the child research department of AIJU.



Costa stresses that the use of mobile phones at an early age "worries us because they stop doing other things, they become more sedentary and less curious to discover things that go beyond visual and tactile interaction, which is what the screens provide".

"One and two year old babies need to move, touch, put things in their mouths to experiment, because their learning is sensory, and if you give them the phone to entertain them, they do not do all those things, they just fix their eyes and move the finger", says  pedagogue Imma Marín.



Pediatricians around the world have long been warning that the use of smartphones and tablets by babies causes lack of interaction and impairs the healthy development of their senses.

In 2013, the Japanese Pediatric Association launched a campaign with the motto "Do not allow smartphones to be a nanny for your children".


The neuropsychologist and psychotherapist Álvaro Bilbao, in an article published in the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia, discourages children from playing with screens before the age of six, explaining that greater exposure to screens is associated with more self-control problems, because they do not know how to be patient or try hard.

Additionally, these children have a greater attention deficit, because they do not know how to wait and normal stimuli bore them.

Lastly, they are more prone to childhood depression, since they depend on stimuli that cause small rewards but no satisfaction; and to greater school failure, because they cannot learn and do not pay attention to what does not seem interesting to them.




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EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.