Ill Effects of Mobile exposure in children: What to do instead

Photo by <a href="">Annie Spratt</a> on <a href="">Unsplash</a>

I was at the airport yesterday travelling with my husband and two year kid. As I settled on my seat what do I see? There was another mommy with a 3year old trying to settle on the seat ahead of me. As soon as she and the baby were settled the mommy took her mobile out, played some downloaded cartoon content from you tube and gave it in the hands of the child to look at. The child did not utter a word as she was glued to the screen and whole journey went like that.

Another instance ... we went to Chikmagalur a few months back. As we were enjoying the beautiful resort, food at their restaurant and the scenic beauty with large trees beautiful bushes that their restaurant offered from beautiful large glass windows; I saw a couple entering the restaurant with some nine month old baby. As soon as they sat in the dining the first thing they did was to arrange mobile on a stand and fix it at a very comfortable angle for their child to look at. And here comes yes the babies favourite rhymes cocomelon...and the baby was glued to screen...not even uttering the regular baa baa maa paa sounds that children at this age do...

The most common instance which I am sure all of us have come across; maybe within our own family, relatives place or in a friend’s house is parents, grandparents or any caregiver showing rhymes to make the babies eat food. This is the worst that anyone can do to hamper the child’s initial years of developing food habits.

Do these instances seem familiar to you as well? Anywhere you go restaurants, malls, friends get-together, parties , shops, vacation, resorts...... these instances of children from a 3 month to 5 year sitting with phones and their eyes glued to screen is very common sight.

Are you also a parent who is allowing their child screen time just so that they don’t disturb you while you have your lunch at your favourite restaurant or to finish your shopping you make them sit in a corner or pram and hand over your mobiles while you can shop? Think twice...I feel you have landed up at the right page and I hope after reading this it will allow you to introspect on the after effects of such habits and the harm it causes to your child.
Why no to mobile screens?

Addictive nature
Imagine the plight of a child who cannot even understand what addiction is and on continuous exposure gets addicted to it.
The colourful lights sound and pictures from the mobile screen attract and make the child addictive to the phones. And then one fine day one adult will come and say oh this child is so addicted to phone. Really? Is the child addicted or there was a parent or some other adult who kept on giving phones as per need and then decided it was addictive and has to stop?

On trying to stop the child gets cranky, howls and cries and we keep on giving them to calm them. How are we expecting a child to distinguish what is right or wrong for them when most of us as adults find it difficult to switch off the phones and stop scrolling our screens.

Reduces imagination and creativity
Every child has innate capabilities of creativity and imagination. Whether the creativity grows or reduces with time depends on the environment they get around and efforts of the elders to give them enough opportunities that charges up their little brain.

At such tender age when they are exposed to screens their creative mind comes to halt. They may learn rhymes or learn to operate your phone which anyways they will do as they grow but in the process they hamper their thinking capabilities.
The innocent minds that should have their own imagination gets bombarded with information that we decide to show them through phones.

Develops wrong food habits
Taking the help of mobiles just so that a child can finish the amount of food decided by the caregiver is the worst blunder in the journey of raising a child.
A child will not be aware of the food portion he/she actually requires creating confusion about their own appetite.
Next time if the food is offered without screen they will surely demand for it as they will by then have associated food and screen. No screen means no food.
At restaurants and public places noise from the phones creates such a nuisance for other people sitting around who have come to enjoy their food.

Physical effects
Entertaining the child or babies by showing cartoons on phone has serious health effects then we might actually believe.
Pre-Primary children wearing spectacles and complaining of headache is on rapid increase. Thanks to the early exposure to screen. Eyesight gets weak as they forget to blink enough causing eye strain, blurry vision and dry eyes that further leads to nearsightedness.
Radiation from the wireless devices and Bluetooth causes neurological damages as the babies brain tissues are very absorbent of the radiations emitted from such devices.

Practical solutions to avoid giving phones
When we talk about wholesome development physically and mentally then we give them good food, play time outdoors for the physical health but all the efforts we put there can be easily ruined if we give them mindless screen time. When we take care of feeding nutritious food to our child why are we feeding junk to their minds?

So what to do instead?
Don’t fall for the trap of showing something on phone just for once especially cartoons because it is never going to be once. While occasional video calls to family members won’t make them addictive but restrain from showing any type of visual content, videos, cartoons, rhymes in phones.
To entertain them just play audios and let them enjoy the music. Ask them to dance/jump to it if they are little grown up and enjoy together with them so that they can learn the art of listening and enjoying to it.
When at public places, malls, restaurants carry their favourite small soft toys, books or any other object that you are sure can keep them engaged. Also always keep some books, colours and toys at home with you that you have yet not introduced to them. These new things will be your saviours when they are cranky and you need to finish off your work or while you travel. The new things always attract them and can hold their attention for quite some time.
Say no where you need to. As a mother you might feel you don’t want to show screen but maybe you are in a joint family or there are other relatives, grandparents at your place who want to engage them using phones. Just say a gentle but firm ‘NO’. Make them understand its consequences. They might feel bad too but understand that nobody can take the best stand for your child as you can as a mother and you are your child’s voice until they can say a no or understand what is right or wrong for them.

Always pay attention to them. Engage in conversations...while travelling or when in a new setup. Keep talking to them so that they don’t feel neglected. For ex. when at airport keep telling them the steps happening around like going for security check, picking the baggage etc. In flight show them outside window, talk to them about clouds and sky. In restaurant engage them in food conversations. Let them play with tissues or any plastic cutlery that is not harmful for them.

Most important is let the child be the innocent child that he/she is.
As adults it takes lot of efforts and energy on our part to raise a child especially in today’s lifestyle where most of us are in nuclear setup with little to no help but never ever make phones as your saviour.
Always keep your interaction and touch with them alive.
My child haven’t seen any Peppa pig or cocomelon rhymes on screen but still recognizes most characters as I have shown a lot of pictures, story and rhyme books. Maybe she is lacking in seeing what episodes are while some of her peers already know that but I am content as she sure knows what happens outside in the real world. She loves being amidst clouds and the blue skies. She loves being in nature. She enjoys the birds chirping and at this age appreciates the beauty of nature as we allowed her to have vacations and picnics sans phones.

Let’s not snatch innocent childhood by providing phones in a child’s hand. Let them enjoy the natural sights, mingling with people and social interactions.
Let me know in the comments section what makes you give phone to your child. Do you have any other tips that can be shared with mommies so they refrain from giving mobiles? Let’s discuss in the comments section below.

About the Author : Visual effects artist by profession, Sheena has worked on the post production of several bollywood and hollywood movies. Loves to write and paint in her spare time. Currently she is on her motherhood break and takes interest in enlightening other women with her motherhood experiences and knowledge. 


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