The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Society of Pediatrics state that infants aged 0-2 years should not have any exposure to technology, 3-5 years be restricted to one hour per day, and 6-18 years restricted to 2 hours per day. Children and youth use 4-5 times the recommended amount of technology, with serious and often life threatening consequences. Handheld devices (cell phones, tablets, electronic games) have dramatically increased the accessibility and usage of technology, especially by very young children.
Many pediatric occupational therapists are requesting parents, teachers and governments to ban the use of all handheld devices for children under the age of 12 years.
Following are 10 research-based reasons for this ban.
1. Rapid brain growth
Between 0 and 2 years, infant’s brains triple in size, and continue in a state of rapid development to 21 years of age. Stimulation to a developing brain caused by overexposure to technologies (cell phones, internet, iPads, TV), has been shown to be associated with executive functioning and attention deficit, cognitive delays, impaired learning, increased impulsivity and decreased ability to self-regulate, e.g. tantrums
2. Delayed Development
Technology use restricts movement, which can result in delayed development. This in turn negatively impacts the academic achievement.
3. Epidemic Obesity
TV and video game use correlates with increased obesity. Children who are allowed a device in their bedrooms have 30% increased incidence of obesity. 30% of children with obesity will develop diabetes, and obese individuals are at higher risk for early stroke and heart attack, gravely shortening life expectancy. Largely due to obesity, 21st century children may be the first generation many of whom will not outlive their parents.
4. Sleep Deprivation
60% of parents do not supervise their child’s technology usage, and 75% of children are allowed technology in their bedrooms. 75% of children aged 9 and 10 years are sleep deprived to the extent that their grades are detrimentally impacted.
5. Mental Illness
Technology overuse is implicated as a causal factor in rising rates of child depression, anxiety, attachment disorder, attention deficit, autism, bipolar disorder, psychosis and problematic child behavior.
Violent media content can cause child aggression. Young children are increasingly exposed to rising incidence of physical and sexual violence in today’s media.
7. Digital dementia
High speed media content can contribute to attention deficit, as well as decreased concentration and memory, due to the brain pruning neuronal tracks to the frontal cortex. Children who can’t pay attention can’t learn.
As parents get attached more and more to technology, they are detaching from their children. In the absence of parental attachment, detached children can attach to devices, which can result in addiction.
9. Radiation emission
In May of 2011, the World Health Organization classified cell phones (and other wireless devices) as a category 2B risk (possible carcinogen) due to radiation emission. Children are more sensitive to a variety of agents than adults as their brains and immune systems are still developing, so you can’t say the risk would be equal for a small adult as for a child.
The ways in which children are raised and educated with technology are no longer sustainable. Children are our future, but there is no future for children who overuse technology.