Children today are savvy with handheld devices like smart phones and tablets. They are user friendly enough for even a child less than five years of age to get self-taught.The internet is an entire universe of knowledge for children. Although an effective tool to dispense information and knowledge, there exists a dark and damaging flipside. Though the utility of smartphones cannot be debated, continued use and exposure can have damaging effects on the child.The Dhruv Global Schoolhas examined some of the major side effects that handheld devices have in a child. Here are some of the findings and the final analysis.

Children often carry handheld devices such as smart phones to school. Online chatting with friends, playing games during class or even accessing harmful content is on the rise. This however has resulted in children not paying attention in the class, missing out on important lessons, and consequently falling short in academic performance.Smartphones not only distract children from studies but also becomea tool of malpractices to cheat in exams. For example, using the inbuilt calculator during exams where it isn’t allowed, storing images or reference material to copy in the examination or at times even exchanging answers with fellowpupils over chat during the exam are common observations. Such behaviour apart from affecting the academic performance of the child also amounts to personality damage by giving a certain false legitimacy to a malpractice.It shows the child a short cut to bypass the effort to acquire the required knowledge, ultimately making the child completely dependent and addicted to these devices. It finally takes away the ability in the child to capture information, process the information, access the information and acquire the knowledge. What comes readymade doesn’t remain. What’s acquired through honest effort lays the foundation to individual competence and character.

Looking at the medical costs of handheld devices on a child, children become glued to the device during their free time.They don’t engage in physical activity and get the most needed fresh air. This makes them couch potatoes resulting in obesity and other more serious medical conditions attributed to lifestyle such as juvenile diabetes and hypertension. Radiation caused by constant use of devices can also cause tumours in extreme cases.There always exist issues of mental health associated with handheld devices. Social media brings children in contact with cyberbullies who bullyandharass over the internet. Many cyber-bullied children only admit their experience a lot later in life by which time the mental damage has already been done. Social media also induces depression and anxiety when the child does not get the online attention it expects. A child also needs its share of sleep. Children often stay up late talking to friends, playing games or scrolling through social media, which causes fatigue and restlessness. It in fact disrupts academic life.A sleep deprived child is unable to concentrate on what is being taught in class.

Parents need to as a general practice, avoid giving cell phones to children under the age of 16 as far as possible. Any access to handheld devices should be under strict supervision. It’s best to be connected with the teachers and the school authorities to ensure the child’s safety and development. Some may differ but as long as the child has zero or supervised access to devices and the internet content, it’s safe enough to ensure that the child would remain focussedon its priorities. Parents need to use technology and devices judiciously towards healthy child development.