A decade ago, televisions were said to be posing the greatest harm to children. But in the mobile age we live in, iPhones are reportedly doing far greater damage. And with children as young as five starting to use iPhones, everyone from child specialists, parents, and even Apple investors are worried about the long-term effects of such usage, both to the child and the society at large.
Various studies have shown that the blue light emitted from iPhone screens is damaging to the eyes. And for children who start using iPhones from a young age, this would mean a greater risk of contracting macular degeneration early on.
The disease is believed to be the biggest reason for blindness in people over 50 years of age. However, since children are in their developmental stage, the blue light from iPhones poses a bigger risk for them as it can penetrate directly into the eye’s retina.
“What worries me is we are giving tablets and phones to children as young as two to play with and over years, we really don’t know what the ramifications might be. Unfortunately, we are going to be experts in hindsight,” Dr. Jim Kokkinakis warns in an interview with The Daily Telegraph.
Consistently engaging with a smartphone has also been discovered to result in poor mental development in kids. And UK’s Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt blames poor parenting as the biggest reasons why children resort to iPhones.
Teachers reported that they were having great difficulty in getting their students to an expected level of progress, largely because iPhone addiction seems to have delayed their proper mental development. A greater number of kids are also having difficulties when it comes to speaking properly. Add to this their disinterest in any kind of physical activity or spending time talking to people rather than texting and we truly have a serious crisis on our hands.
“More children are presenting with serious difficulties when it comes to speech and language. In disadvantaged communities, children’s ability to talk, to play, to interact is often markedly behind. When I ask if the condition is getting worse, all heads say yes and they blame the iPhone,” Hunt says in an interview with The Telegraph.
The concern of children being affected by the iPhone has gotten so widespread that even some shareholders of Apple have asked the company to implement effective safeguards to protect kids from such risks.
“It would defy common sense to argue that this level of usage by children, whose brains are still developing, is not having at least some impact or that the maker of such a powerful product has no role to play in helping parents to ensure it is being used optimally,” Live Science quotes the shareholder’s letter to Apple.
Governments across the world are also starting to limit smartphone usage of children. France passed a new law recently that has banned smartphone usage in classrooms, hoping that this would encourage children to stop being addicted to the devices and start participating in physical activities and engaging more with other kids.
Such measures might seem to be infringing on children’s rights for some people. But in terms of holistic development, it’s far better to restrict our kids from certain activities than risk causing damage to their physical and mental health.