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Here Are 4 Reason to Turn Off the Kids’ Smartphones

Written by Dr. Joseph Mercola

In the old days before smartphones and iPads weren't even an idea, kids usually lost sleep when they sneaked a flashlight under the covers in their bedroom to read a can’t-put-it-down book. Today, however, books are passé and smartphones are what’s under those covers — and screen time, be it from social media or gaming, is the can’t-put-it-down problem.

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While sleep deprivation may be the most noticeable side effect of this, Wink News and Anderson Cooper have uncovered some concerns parents need to consider when it comes to screen time and its effect on kids. For example:

• MRIs of 9- and 10-year-old children who use smartphones, tablets and video games more than seven hours a day show premature thinning of their cortex. While researchers haven’t studied it long enough to know whether this will be dangerous long-term, it’s still a concern.

• Data show that children who spend more than two hours on screens got lower scores on thinking and language tests. Aside from cognitive skills, today’s screen-tied kids are also technically socially isolated. No matter how you look at it, one-on-one communication, in person and when you can look into the other person’s eyes is an entirely different ballgame from “communicating” online.

In person, you can hear the nuances in a voice, and “read” a person’s feelings from their expressions and body language, and in so doing, they learn how to think and speak in the real world. Online, however, your ability to judge what others are really thinking is relegated to what emoji you use and whether or not your online friends “like” your status or “frown” on one of your comments. In other words, it’s just not real.

• Babies allowed to play on iPads don’t transfer what they learn to the real world — in other words, just because they can stack blocks on top of each other on a screen doesn’t mean they can do it with real blocks in real life. As noted, the American Academy of Pediatrics is now recommending NO screen time for children younger than 18 to 24 months old.

If nothing else, exposing young children and developing brains to cellphone and WiFi radiation is not a good thing. Studies with rats show that newborns exposed to high levels of radiation during pregnancy and lactation were more likely to have low body weight. Additionally, DNA damage and damage to heart tissue was also observed.

•More teens than ever not only report that they feel lonely or depressed, but are thinking of, or are committing, self-harm. While researchers haven’t determined whether it’s what the teens are doing on their phones, or the amount of time spent on them, that’s a factor, but they have found that college students who limited themselves to just 30 minutes a day on social media reported less loneliness and depression.

Statistics show that rates of teen depression and suicide have risen since 2011, and data suggest spending three hours or more each day on electronic devices raises a teen’s suicide risk by 35 percent.

And, bringing it all back around to sleep deprivation, there are lots of reasons to limit children’s use of electronic devices, as well as to shield them from excessive WiFi radiation. While children today can’t fathom a life before the internet, it’s still possible to teach them the joys of life without the internet, and then to limit the time they spend on those devices.

At bare minimum, insist on their turning off phones and tablets at night, and to not sleep with their phone beneath their pillow or directly near their head. Really try to minimize the presence of electronic devices in their bedroom and, to protect everyone in your household and instill the concept of “off times,” shut down your Wi-Fi at night.

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