Care and Wellbeing

Smartphone and Tablet Use in Children: Effects and Rules for their Use

Misuse of new technologies, sleep and behaviour are closely linked

Child using tablet

New technologies certainly represent a great opportunity to learn, have fun and grow up. Nevertheless, it is important to stress that at any age, and especially with children, it is necessary to use smartphones and tablets responsibly and correctly.

Children and the use of new technologies

A study published in 2019, carried out in collaboration with FIMP, analysed the behaviours and habits of around 3,000 Italian children aged between 1 and 5 years in several areas including the use of new technologies:

  • More than 10% of the sample use tablets and smartphones before going to sleep
  • More than a fifth of children aged 1 to 2 years use devices, 20% of them for more than an hour a day
  • One third of the sample watches TV for more than one hour a day
  • Between 3 and 4 years of age, about 15% watch TV and use tablets or smartphones before falling asleep.

The effects of mobile phones on children

Technological devices directly and indirectly represent a brain overload, due to too many stimuli, which disturbs the quality and quantity of sleep. We have already talked about the importance of a good sleep routine and how to help children sleep.

When mobile phones and tablets are used incorrectly and especially in the late afternoon or even just before going to bed, both the excitement they produce and the blue light they emit (very similar to sunlight) 'wake up' the little ones, who are then only able to fall asleep much later.

On a behavioural level, it was observed that these children slept less and worse, and were consequently more aggressive towards adults (parents, teachers, etc.) and peers, disrespectful of rules, hyperactive and unable to handle frustrations.

Guidelines for the correct use of mobile phones and tablets

Here are some tips for the correct use of mobile phones and tablets by children

  • No to devices under 2 years of age.
  • After that age, they should never be used more than 45 minutes a day (also applies to TV).
  • Remember that in general Smartphones and Tablets are more difficult to manage than TV.
  • Do not leave your child all alone in front of a device (even a TV) and monitor the contents carefully.
  • Preferably not in the late afternoon and never after dinner.
  • TV, which is hypnotic for adults, is exciting for children.

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