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What is the right age to give smartphones to children?

Right age to give smartphones to children
(Image: Pixabay.com)

Almost everywhere around us today is a scenario like this fantasy. Despite understanding that digital devices including smartphones have serious effects on children's physical and mental health, parents cannot keep their children away from smartphones. Many times, bowing down to the child's stubbornness and holding the mobile in his hand, many times he entrusts the mobile to the child for his own convenience.

'In the world, 90 out of 100 parents admit that the use of smartphones is dangerous for children, but 70 out of 100 parents do not prevent their children from using smartphones' - this conclusion of an online survey in Australia is not surprising at all. In a survey of 2,500 parents, 56 percent admitted that they had a role in getting their child addicted to mobile phones. However, by the time they realize this, children get used to smartphones.

From 2013 to 2020, mobile usage has increased by 250 percent. It has a direct impact on children. Since there is more than one smartphone in the house, the possibility of children getting access to mobile phones has also increased by 125 percent in this period. Parents get mobile help to stop the child from misbehaving or crying before he/she understands. Parents start giving mobiles to their children in order to introduce them to the new mobile. The mobile stops to keep the child sitting in one place while eating. When going with friends or family to a restaurant or for a walk, the child is kept busy with the mobile so that he does not have to run behind. It is not possible to think about how it affects the child's mind. Parents do not want harm to the child. They have such a logic that there will be no big impact in a few minutes. But that short period starts coming again and again.

An American survey found that children between the ages of 8 and 12 spent 4 hours and 44 minutes on mobile phones. After the corona period, this period has increased to 5 hours and 37 minutes. Children between the ages of 12 and 18 spend 7 hours and 22 minutes on screen. It also includes spending an hour and a half on a tab or laptop for school homework. This trend is going on in developed and developing countries around the world. 54 percent of children up to three years have recorded online activity. 68 percent of children up to five years living in cities start using computers and their screen time increases in sum.

In this situation, the question is, what is the right time to hold a mobile phone in the child's hand? At what age does introducing a child to devices including smartphones have positive effects instead of side effects? Until what age is it necessary to keep mobile away from children?

Various findings have been presented at the end of multiple researches, discussions. In America, the average nine-year-old child owns a mobile phone, while in Britain, 11-year-olds become mobile phone owners. A survey conducted in 19 European countries found that 80 percent of European children get their own mobile phone by the age of 16 at the latest. At the age of 12 to 15, these children have their own social media accounts.

According to Professor Candice Odger, Head of the Department of Psychology at the University of California, 90 percent of children living in cities around the world are given a smartphone-tab or laptop at the age of 9 to 10 years. Odgar believes that it is too early to give children smartphone-laptops at that age. Actually mobile should be given at the age of 13 to 15 years. If a child gets a mobile phone at that age, he can use it in study or to see and understand new things. Odgar has also done extensive work on the long-term mental health effects of mobile use on children from birth to eight years of age.

UNICEF made a report on this. The report, titled Safer Internet for the Whole Family, sought the opinion of techno-experts, psychologists, paediatricians. It was said that the age of giving mobile phones to children should be 14 to 15 years. Before that, full parental control should give access as needed for homework or school projects. It should be understood that the screen time should not exceed four hours.

After Corona, when online education of children started, schools increased the screen time of children. Many parents complain: During the Corona period, children got used to smartphones due to the online education of the school. Now despite their efforts, the children do not give up the habit. This complaint is not wrong either. As education was not possible by going to school, online classes started all over the world, due to which children got open permission to use mobile-tabs.

Experts say that the right time to give a device, including a smartphone, to a child is 13 to 15 years, while experts also opine that allowing it to be used as much as 8-10 years is beneficial. It's not just that smartphones are dangerous for children. If used properly, this smartphone-tab-laptop can play a key role in their knowledge, overall development. Many cases of it keep coming up. It has happened that some children have progressed by learning something new through YouTube videos or other apps, websites.

Experts from all over the world agree that children's screen time up to five years is very little and spending that time with toys is so beneficial in the long run. It is necessary to see that children do not get used to smartphones for five years. After that educational apps or videos should be introduced gradually by fixing the time. From five to 10 years, children should be given sufficient access by using smartphone smart systems and apps. Experts recommend monitoring what they watch, how long they watch it and what games they play.

By the time a child reaches seven to ten years of age, many parents begin to believe that if the child is not introduced to the digital world, he or she will fall behind other children. But that assumption is not entirely true. If the child is completely ignorant of the world of laptop-smartphone-tab, it is reasonable to worry that he will be left behind, but if he knows how to use it as needed, the possibility remains open that the child can learn more in the years to come.

It cannot be underestimated the fact that smartphones become a boon for children if they are used in a positive manner and with moderation, otherwise it is often a curse.

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Credit: Harsh Meswania (Gujarat Samachar)

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