Recently, smartphones or more specifically touchscreen phones have become extremely popular around the globe amongst the younger generation, other than making its way into the hands of the people born in the 50s and 60s. The boom started with the first ever iPhone released in 2007 by Apple Inc. wherein the usage of buttons on a mobile phone was no longer available. This new concept widened the variety of functions that were possible on the smartphone, right from checking your mailbox, clicking and editing pictures, surfing the internet and video conferencing. Hence, every other person started to hold possession of the smartphone –an extremely reliable and efficient device considering all its features.
Unfortunately, it has also made its way into the hands of children as young as 5 and 8 year olds! Young kids use the smartphone in their own way, be it for learning or just fun and games. It provides a gateway to the entire outside world which is easily able to satisfy the curiosity of these young minds. Hence they tend to spend at times hours on these handy devices. Even though the smartphone has proven to be extremely beneficial, it does have its negative effects if not used wisely. Often children have a tendency to get addicted to online gaming arcades and competitions to such an extent that they forget their worldly responsibilities; they become completely engrossed in the virtual sphere and end up spending a lot of time playing a game which might not really contribute to their real lives. The fact that children obtain easy access to the outside world via the internet on the smartphone, makes them vulnerable to all sorts of traps set up by the internet. The search results displayed by web browsers like Google constitutes only about 10% of the internet and the rest of it can be found on the Dark Web, Deep Web and illegal sites which aren’t registered with a particular web browser. One such shuddering instance is the Blue Whale Challenge found on the Dark Web, this online challenge had influenced naïve children into self-harm and suicide in order to win the challenge at any cost. Innumerable cases were reported where children could be seen standing on high-rise buildings, ready to give up their precious lives just so they could complete a trivial challenge. Cyberbullying is another cause where children are mentally harassed and their peace of mind is disturbed.
Excessive usage of the smartphone can also result in detrimental health effects such as weakening of the eyes, lethargy resulting from the lack of movement and physical activity, even damage of brain cells due to the harmful radiations released from the device which can penetrate their soft skulls.
However, parents and teachers can take some measures in order to help their children benefit from this device in positive ways:-
- Make your child realize the detrimental effects: Have a conversation with your child regarding the long-term and short-term effects of excessive usage of the smartphone, such as Obesity, lack of creativity, sleep-deprivation, damage to social skills etc. Also, set and be an example for your child by using your smartphone only when necessary.
- Keep your child engaged: Try to introduce new real life activities to your child like a new sport or outdoor game, board games, participation in various group activities and clubs.
- Enable Parental Controls on the smartphone: For children who are naïve and curious, it’s always safer to monitor their online activities and ban promiscuous websites. You can also set passwords on certain Apps to avoid the child from wandering and misusing the smartphone.
- Introduce the importance of ‘Netiquettes’ : With the availability of various messaging applications, children have a free hand at guiltlessly sending away harsh or inappropriate messages to others. Hence the child can be taught the ethical use of these Apps. Children should be taught to think twice before expressing their opinions on a website or app.
- Encourage the usage of positive and educational Apps and websites: Considering the vastness of the uses of a smartphone, children can be introduced to educational and growth-promoting Apps and websites. This will help them secure their learning process and keep them level-headed. Practicing online for an upcoming test, exam or just to further academic skills, children can login to elearning websites such like www.etutorworld.com from the comfort of their home or even when they are on the move!
These are some of the measures amongst various others, parents and tutors can take so their child can have a positive and enhanced experience on a smartphone. It is a world-renowned fact that the smartphone is a unique device of convenience and class. Eventually, it depends on the parents if they want their children to use it to “run” their lives or “ruin” their lives.