According to the Canadian Society of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatrics, infants (0-2 years) should not be exposed to any kind of technology, children from 3-5 years should be allowed access to technology only 1 hour a day and children from 6-18 years only 2 hours a day. The Kaiser Foundation and Active Healthy Kids Canada discovered that many of our children and youth are seriously exposed to life threatening consequences because they use 4-5 times the recommended amount. Also, Common Sense Media claims that all handheld devices such as tablets and smartphones have seriously increased the accessibility and usage of modern technology.
All parents, teachers and governments should seriously reconsider and ban the usage of handheld devices for all children under the age of 12.
Here are 10 research-based reasons why children under the age of 12 should not be allowed to use handheld devices:
1. Rapid Brain Growth
The brain rapidly develops to 21 years of age especially between 0-2 years when an infant brain triples in size. As we know the early brain development is determined by or lack of environmental stimuli. The uncontrolled exposure to technology is often associated with attention deficit, cognitive delays, impaired learning and increased impulsivity.
2. Delayed Development
When children use and are around technology they tend to make restrictive movement thus leading to delayed development. HELP EDI Maps in 2013 had discovered that one in three children go to school developmentally delayed which negatively impacts academic achievement and literacy.
3. Epidemic Obesity
In 2011, Feng have brought to light that children who are allowed to bring technology into their bedrooms have 30% increased incidence of obesity. Also Tremblay has published that 1 in 3 U.S. children and 1 of 4 Canadian are obese. In their life 30% of these children will develop diabetes and have a higher risk for early stroke which shortens life expectancy dramatically (Center for Disease Control and Prevention).
4. Sleep Deprivation
Kaiser Foundation came to some terrifying statistic that 75% of children are allowed by their parents to take technology in their bedroom and 60% of parents are not supervising their child’s technology usage. 75% of children between age 9 and 10 had recorded significant drop in grades due to sleep deprivation (Boston College).
5. Mental Illness
In many cases technology overuse turns into a main factor in rising rates of child depression, attention deficit, autism, bipolar disorder, psychosis, anxiety, attachment disorder and problematic behavior (Bristol University 2010, Mentzoni 2011, Shin 2011, Liberatore 2011, Robinson 2008). There are strong evidences that one of six Canadian children is struggling with mental illness and as a result many of them are already on psychotropic medication (Waddell 2007).
A child aggression can be caused by violent media. There is too much physical and sexual violence in today`s media and our children are becoming increasingly exposed. I don`t have to mention video games like “Grand Theft Auto V” that portray, violence, murder and torture as do so many TV shows and movies. The truth is that media violence is a Public Health Risk with direct impact on children (Huesman).
7. Digital Dementia
Attention deficient, decreased concentration and memory are results of high speed media content due to the brain downsizing neuronal tracks to the frontal cortex (Christakis, Small). The simple truth is that children who can`t pay attention and concentrate can’t learn.
More technology = absence of parental attachment. Children are getting more and more addicted and attached to devices, in fact one in 11 children from age 8 to 18 are addicted to technology (Gentile, Rowan).
9. Radiation emission
The World Health Organization classified cell phones as well as other wireless devices as a category 2B risk back in May 2011. They are still considered as possible cancer sources 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.” – James McNamee,Health Canada, 2011.
Based on a new research radio frequency exposure should be reconsidered and reclassified as a 2A (probable carcinogen) – Anthony Miller, University of Toronto’s School of Public Health.
There is an urge for a team-based approach to reduce the use of technology by our children simply because the ways that they are raised and educated with technology is no longer sustainable (Rowan).
Chris Rowan, pediatric occupational therapist and author of Virtual Child; r. Andrew Doan, neuroscientist and author of Hooked on Games; and Dr. Hilarie Cash, Director of reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery Program and author of Video Games and Your Kids, with contribution from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Pediatric Society have developed the following Technology Use Guidelines for children and youth: