Real Life | Are you hurting your child with technology?

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A leading psychologist that predicted the toxic effects of social media over 10 years ago is now warning about the dangerous impacts of technology on young children.

When a child is upset, bored or restless while out and about, it is easy to quickly hand them the one thing that you know will pacify them – their beloved tablets. The easy access to games or favourite show can quickly keep them occupied, and quiet.

Unfortunately, this new pacifying method is causing more harm than good according to a leading psychologist.

Sue Palmer says she is stunned how quickly the youngest of children have become slaves to screens, and how the older ones are defined by their virtual personas.

Children spend, on average, between five and six hours a day staring at screens between TV, iPad and phone.

Recent research has found that 10 per cent of children under four are put to bed with a tablet computer to play while they fall asleep. The tablet is the new comfort blanket. Other research has shown that excessive screentime can lead to obesity, sleep disorders, aggression, poor social skills, depression and academic under achievement.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under two, and a maximum of two hours a day thereafter.

The earlier a child is hooked on screens, it is more difficult to wean them off. Perhaps this is the reason why the late Apple boss Steve Jobs did not let his own children have his own creation – the iPad.

Real play is obviously instrumental for every child. It is vital for physical, mental and emotional development. It allows them to gain physical skills, develops their creative side and gives them the opportunity to get along with other people and understand how the world works.

It’s time to get the children out and about, and away from their screens!