You may have noticed your children glued to their devices with their faces in their phones. Well, that’s their “Heads Down” state.
Many parents don’t mind their children living with their phone every second of the day – maybe because they don’t know the real repercussions of “Heads down,” that’s why! But, looking down all the time comes with some real downsides.
There are five basic reasons “heads down” is bad for kids.
Bumping into walls, falling down stairs, or stepping into traffic – this is happening more often these days and for this one devastating reason: “Heads Down.” In the United States, distracted pedestrian injuries have become the fifth leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 19. This is the obvious reason. Anyone who goes anywhere has seen someone lost in their device walk out into traffic – or worse, drive with their attention on their phone. Usually, we look down as we walk along a hallway and collide into others doing the same. While waiting outside my daughter’s college, I have always noticed that the majority of our youth is looking at their phones being unaware of their surroundings. While texting, phoning, and listening to music, our kids put their safety at risk, so they need to live a “heads-up” life.
Our devices have made us more sedentary. Most of the times, our kids are happy to curl up with their phones or tablets instead of being active. In order to be healthy, kids must spend an active hour daily, but digital devices get in the way of that. Since it is an indoor activity, kids also ignore outdoor activities which have a significant impact on their health. Devices also get in the way of proper sleep. Nearly half of the parents reported that their kids have problems falling asleep, and too much screen time has been identified as the core factor behind it. Cell phones keep kids awake, and they lack adequate sleep that leads to many cognitive and psychological issues. All these factors have a negative impact on the health, both short and long term. There are other possible health hazards of mobile phones for kids:
Non-Malignant tumors: Kids using electronic devices have more chances of developing a non-malignant tumor in the brain and ear.
Cancer: The WHO has categorized cell phone radiation as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” Children with thinner brain skin, tissues, and bones have 60% (twice than the grown-ups) more chances of absorbing the radiations as compared to the adults. Their developing nervous system makes them more vulnerable to this “carcinogen.”
There is a growing concern that social media is fueling anxiety and depression in our youth. Due to the overuse of digital devices, our kids are suffering from FOMO or the “fear of missing out.” Mostly, kids feel measured by the number of likes or comments on their posts. They compare their lives with other social entities and mostly end up in depression. They idealize online personalities, and it can make kids worry and feel inadequate. A recent research study published in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports stated that young people who spend more than seven hours a day on screen have more than twice the chances to be diagnosed with anxiety and depression as compared to those who use screens for just an hour a day.
- Social connection
Not only kids but most of us ignore people around us when we are on our devices. It is becoming more common among kids as they prefer to spend time with their devices rather than talking or interacting even in social situations. That’s why our kids can miss important social skills for making conversation and building relationships. If they are not learning these skills now, they will have to face lifelong implications.
- Losing connection with the physical world
Well, it is not just about avoiding bumping into people or not having adequate sleep. When people experience the world through their devices, they may face even bigger problems. By missing out on experiencing the natural and physical world, they miss on all the hands-on experiences and skills that are provided by the physical world. In the long run, our kids can even face problems with memory, attention and language skills caused by too much screen time.
Digital devices can facilitate us in terms of connection and information. But we need our children to live a “heads-up” life as they need to learn through full engagement with everyone and everything around them.