Excessive and uncontrolled use and early exposure to devices by children can have serious consequences both on a physical and postural level and on a neurodevelopmental level. And not only that: behind the use of smartphones there are always some pitfalls
“Not providing rules for the use of digital devices exposes your children to risk of being exposed to cyberbullyingespecially if you live in rural areas“. This is the message coming from the Italian Society of Pediatric Primary Care, which in a new report shows the effects the use of digital devices and social media have on children’s health.
61 family pediatricians from all over Italy participated in this research, 1748 anonymous questionnaires were completed and 2533 children were recruited.
A large study that came to only one alarming conclusion: many children today are exposed and in some cases overexposed to digital devices. This leads to the fact that excessive and uncontrolled use, together with early exposure to devices by the little ones, can have serious consequences both at the physical and postural level and at the neuro-developmental level.
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The researchers examined, through the answers to the questionnaires in almost all regions of Italy, children from 0 to 2 years, from 2 to 6, from 6 to 10 and from 10 to 14 years.
The primary objective of our study was to estimate the prevalence of the prevalence of digital devices, use of the Internet and social media among children – explains Giovanni Cerimoniale, member of the National Board of SICuPP. Then we wanted to evaluate the relationship with the main variables, such as the age of children and parents, the social conditions, the rules of use with the final intention of planning a capillary training and information activity for families through pediatricians with free choice aimed at preventing and reducing side effects from the incorrect use of digital devices .
Mobile phones, between loneliness and social media
An important fact revealed by the study sees the children connect and surfing the Internet more and more alonewith increasing age: in the interval from 2 to 6 years, the percentage is 26%, to reach 65.60% in the phase between 6 and 10 years and even 94.10% between 10 and 14 years.
Parents’ lack of control over their children’s devices also gradually increases with children’s age, reaching a total of 76%.
Social media is also present in the statistics from the SICuPP survey, where 76.3% of children over 12 participate, 24.9% of those between 9 and 12, 5.4% between 6 and 9 and already a percentage , albeit minimally, by 1.5% of children between 3 and 6 years of age.
2.37% of children between the ages of 10 and 14 are victims of cyberbullying.
These data mean – Ceremoniale emphasizes – that in Italy each family pediatrician, in the children he cares for in this age group, has around 5-6 children who are victims of cyberbullying.
What should parents do?
As Ceremoniale explains, there are 4 basic steps:
- before the age of 3, the child must build his spatial and temporal references, therefore it is necessary to try as much as possible to avoid the use of screens
- from 3 to 6 years, the child must discover all his sensory and manual possibilities, therefore he walks peer play encouraged avoid personal smartphones or tablets
- from 6 to 9 years, the child must discover the rules of the social game, therefore do not allow the use of the Internet
- from 9 to 12 years, the child begins to become independent of family referrals, therefore avoid participation in social networks
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