May 05, 2023 08:15
More and more children are being exposed to smart devices too early, which can harm their development.
According to a report by Korea National University of Education, more than half or 54.3 percent of children in kindergarten were already exposed to digital devices before they were two years old. Some 11.8 percent of children were exposed to smart devices when they were less than a year old.
Tablet PCs were the first smart devices to be handed to 39.1 percent of children, followed by smartphones (33.6 percent), and smart TVs (23.7 percent).
The main excuse parents gave was because they were busy with housework, needed a break, and had no other effective way of keeping their children quiet in restaurants.
One 34-year-old woman from Suwon said, "I have no choice but to let my child use my smartphone to stop him crying when we eat in restaurants or take the train."
But doctors warn that early exposure to smart devices is harmful to brain development, stunting the growth of the frontal lobe, which is related to concentration and reasoning, while over-activating the occipital lobe, which handles visual stimuli.
Children also miss out on opportunities to engage in eye contact and conversation with their parents, which are crucial to balanced development of the brain.
Social development increasingly goes out of the window. Kim Sung-koo at Hallym University Dongtan Sacred Heart Hospital analyzed 96 children from 2013 to 2019 and found that 95.8 percent of those who showed signs of stunted development had begun using smart devices before they were two, while 63.6 percent stared at smart devices for more than two hours at a time.
According to the study, only 18.8 percent of children who displayed no signs of stunted development watched their smart devices for more than two hours on average.
"The basic structure of the human brain is laid down in early childhood, and a failure to develop language and cognitive abilities properly at this stage can cause weakened concentration and socializing abilities when they become adults and stunt the development of intelligence."
Excessive visual stimuli can also cause children to become impatient and impulsive. The use of digital devices also thwarts the development of language and cognitive skills. Doctors often urge parents of children displaying signs of autism or other developmental disorder to stop exposing them to digital devices.
Lee Tae-yeop at Asan Medical Center said, "If a child is left alone to watch videos, it's effectively being abandoned without the necessary stimuli for development."
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents do not expose children below 24 months of age to any type of digital device. Moon Jin-hwa at Hanyang University Guri Hospital said, "Parents shouldn't stare at their smartphones in front of their kids either. We also need to be more patient when other peoples' children cry in public places."
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