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phone 2 246The use of mobile devices to calm young children creates longer term issues 

From a study by University of Michigan and an interview with Dr Leonard Sax, psychologist

Take this example. A mother brings her three-year-old into the doctor's waiting room to be seen. The three-year-old doesn't feel well. He is irritable and whiny. She gives him her own smartphone, which is playing a SpongeBob SquarePants episode. The boy visibly relaxes, staring at the screen.

Is the use of mobile devices to calm young children’s emotions and behaviour associated with long-term development difficulties?

Researchers at the University of Michigan studied children 3, 4, and 5 years of age. Some parents often gave their children a screen of some kind to help the child calm down. Other parents never did that. Still other parents did it sometimes, but not all the time. The researchers then followed each child over six months time to see what effect, if any, the use of devices had on the child's emotional reactivity (reacting impulsively when faced with a perceived threat).
The results: the more often parents gave the child a smartphone to calm the child down, the more likely the child was subsequently - 3 or 6 months later - to be irritable and emotionally hyperreactive. The authors of the study concluded that when kids are stressed, and parents put a screen in front of them, children aren't learning how to deal with stress; they are just distracted by the screen.

The parents who took handheld electronics away from their children always report a significant decrease in problem behaviours: reduction in tantrums, decrease in physical and verbal aggression, increase in emotional regulation, decrease in sleeping problems, increase in ability to engage with others, increase in contentment, etc. Sadly, less than half of the parents follow that advice. The only reason researchers know that parents have followed through on that treatment recommendation is the drastic change observed in their child’s behaviour. They have never had a family that followed through on the three-week removal of handheld electronics say they regret the process or express an increase in problem behaviours.
The parents may lie about taking the phone away, but children are extremely honest. They complain that their electronics are taken away if they were. If the parents say they have removed electronics [but didn't], the child almost always tells the truth when the parents are not in the room. The child often explains that one parent still gives permission to play or that the parents want to "look good" in front of the questioner. Some children even do this when their parents are still in the room.

Something to share with parents and toddlers groups?

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From a study by University of Michigan and an inte, 29/03/2023

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