In today’s digital age, technology is an essential tool in our daily lives but when used excessively it may have negative impacts on the spiritual, emotional and physical wellness of users. It may also change the way the human brain processes information.
These dangerous signs are now manifesting among toddlers. Most children within age 1 to 3 are no longer interested in playing with other toys except screen devices e.g. laptop, iPad, iPhone, tablet etc. All they want is to sit down in front of screen or click on any App that is available on the home screen of electronic devices.
Screen device is now the first thing they view in the morning and the last thing they view in the night before they go to bed. Many of them are addicted to gaming, watching video or pornographic materials.
Compulsive use of screen devices e.g. computers, iPad, iPhone or watching videos among young children is a problem that can negatively affect their relationship with parents, academic performance or other aspects of their daily lives.
In most cases the faults are from parents because many parents now entertain their children, particularly toddlers with screen devices, not minding the side effects. Many of these young children are so addicted to screen devices to the extent that when they are denied access to these devices, they will cry and they won’t stop crying until they are given access to the devices.
The scourge of screen addiction among young children is a global challenge and it had caused a lot of incalculable damages to the society.
For instance, few years ago, there were several news reports of children, particularly minors that died after following the stunt they saw on the video games they were addicted to.
What are the warning signs that a child is addicted to screen device?
1. When the first thing a child views in the morning and the last thing he/she views before going to bed is a screen device.
2. When his/her grades are dropping in school.
3. Spending too much time with screen device.
4. Having no interest in other toys except screen devices.
5. Feeling happy only when gaming or using screen device but feeling unhappy when he/she is denied access to screen device.
6. When parents and family complain about the amount of time spent on screen devices.
7. When a child complains of headache or neck pain regularly.
8. When staying with screen device is the only thing that makes a child happy.
9. When screen time interferes with other daily activities.
10. When all efforts by parents to reduce the amount of time spent on screen device prove abortive.
Lasting solutions to screen addiction among toddlers:
1. All children should be educated about internet safety.
2. Parents should encourage young children on meaningful screen use.
3. Screen time should be limited to only weekends.
4. Parents should supervise screen use.
5. Parents should always organise real life programs.
6. Parents should delete all Apps that the children don’t really need on the devices.
7. Parents should always turn off all screen devices belonging to children after use and keep them away from them until the next time they want to use it.
CEO of Onadipe Technologies,
National Coordinator- Internet Abuse Awareness & Prevention Project, Nigeria.