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Balancing the Benefits and Risks of Children’s Mobile Phone Use

By: Bisma Zahoor 

Today, mobile phones have become an indispensable element of our daily routine since they are essential communication tools that provide us access to our loved ones, a gateway to information and also serve as a means of entertainment. The increased presence of such devices, in our daily lives, has also added a few challenges to its usage especially by kids and young teens. The intricacies of this new phenomenon need to be understood very well in order to keep an eye on the benefits as well as the risks involved in this affair.

Even though smartphones come with a lot of learning features, they also involve possible risks that may challenge children’s physical and mental well-being. Issues including physical as well as psychological can get triggered by the unethical use of mobile phones and without proper guidance, children may access inappropriate content online that could be counterproductive to their health. 

As reported in the Pew Research Center study, almost all teenagers have smartphones, with around 50% of them always being online. Thus, they can be targeted with cyberbullying, explicit materials, and unrealistic social trends which have negative effects on the quality of life.

Children of today are sedentary because mobile phone usage curbs physical activity and social interaction, which is another alarming issue. Technological devices often result in decreased physical activity and reduced social skills as our youngsters are glued o the screen and seldom enjoy the real ambiences as well as conversations. American Academy of Pediatrics states that children between two and five should not exceed a screen time of about one hour per day and should focus more on physical activity and real-life interactions, to ensure their development. 

Also, mobile phones break the children’s sleep patterns as the blue light from these screens hampers melatonin production and consequently delays the initiation of sleep. A study from the Journal of Child Neurology established that excessive use of a device before bedtime correlates with poorer sleeping quality and duration. This, in turn, has added daytime fatigue and cognitive impairment among adolescents. 

Social media might also exert a large impact on the situation because children often get to see edited and airbrushed versions of the world and this can result in their self-concept getting distorted and making them feel inadequate. 

An article by the Royal Society for Public Health emphasized the negative influence of social media on young people’s mental health, indicating enhanced depression, anxiety, and isolation among the probable results of prolonged use of social media. On the other hand, the widespread use of mobile gaming apps elevates even more worries because the sort of gameplay that children get ensnared in can compromise their engagement in classwork and social activities. A paper that drew from JAMA Pediatrics revealed that the increased screen time among adolescents was linked to higher rates and attention problems and impulsivity. 

Parents must have close monitoring when letting their children use mobile phones so that the risk is going to be minimized. The range of activities may include setting limits on age-based screen time, overseeing online activities, and promoting discussion on digital literacy and the responsible use of the internet. The parents have another duty in which they are supposed to set an example by minimizing their usage of mobiles and involving themselves in real interactions and recreational activities 

As one sheds light on the puzzling scenery of children using phones, it becomes necessary to seek a state of equilibrium whereby the positive sides of technology are maximized and downsides are brought to a minimum. 

Even though smartphones provide kids with chances to be educated and be in contact, they still can be dangerous in threatening children’s safety if use is not controlled. The ample amount of screen time is linked to a variety of negative consequences, for example, a drop in the number of physical activities, the sleep pattern of disruption, and psychological consequences. 

Apart from all these combined factors of social media that create an atmosphere of isolation, anxiety, and poor academic performance, the use of addictive applications equally contributes to the same outcome. Though age-appropriate limits for screen time, tracking online activities, and promoting discussion for digital literacy can help parents to prepare children adequately to navigate the world of digital safely and knowledgeably, parents should also encourage real-world interactions. When doing this, we will create conditions for kids to be able to exploit technological benefits and their detriments won’t impede their health. Through the responsive art of managing kids’ mobile phone use, we can give birth to a cohort of technologically savvy individuals who will be fully equipped for the dynamic era of high interconnectivity.

The Author is Pursuing a Master’s Degree in Social Work at the University of Kashmir and can be reached at [email protected]


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