5 Damaging Effects of Letting Your Child Use a Gadget for as Long as She Wants
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  • Gadgets are not the enemy. As Michelle Lichauco-Tambunting, co-founder and directress of Young Creative Minds Preschool, says, “We're living in a world where the digital age is here. It's a reality. It's a tool that's necessary.” 

    It’s when our kids can’t get off their gadgets, and screen use becomes excessive that these tools become a problem and can potentially be damaging. Research has shown this time and time again to be true. Here are just a few of the negative effects of excessive screen use according to science: 

    1.  It can cause "Screen Dependency Disorder"
    Research from Dr. Aric Sigman, a US-based psychologist, has claimed that prolonged gadget use can lead to Screen Dependency Disorder (SDD), which can affect children as young as 3 or 4 years old.

    Kids with SDD grab their device the moment they wake up and eat at the table with their eyes glued to the screen, playing games, or watching shows, Claudette Avelino-Tandoc, a family life and child development specialist and early childhood education consultant, explains to SmartParenting.com.ph.

    SDD causes behavioral, emotional, and physical problems. From headaches and insomnia to anxiety, loneliness, dependency on screens, and loss of outside interests. One of the long-term effects of SDD can be brain damage. Read more about the disorder here.   

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    2. It can delay your child’s speech development
    When you hand your child a tablet, while in the car or waiting in line, you miss out on the opportunity to talk and interact with her instead. A study involving 900 children found that more time spent on a handheld device or gadget led to a higher likelihood of speech delay in children 6 months to 2 years old

    Results showed that 20 percent of the tots used a gadget for an average of 28 minutes a day. And, every additional 30 minutes of screen time was linked to a 49 percent increased risk of expressive speech delay or communication that made use of sounds and words. 

    3. It can weaken and damage parent-child relationships 
    Would you say your child ignores you when you talk to him while he's on a tablet? Research from Kaspersky Lab, which involved over 3,700 families with kids ages 8 to 16 years old, found worrying insight about gadget use at home. 

    Results of the survey showed that 31 percent of parents believed the Internet is isolating them from their children. And, one in four parents said their kids now prefer to go online, whether it is to ask questions or seek advice, rather than talk to their mom or dad. Parents, don’t let gadgets be more valuable to your child than his relationship with you. 

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    4. It can disrupt your child's sleep
    You may have already noticed this yourself. Using gadgets before bedtime to watch a movie or play an app game has serious adverse effects on kids — they have trouble sleeping as well as staying awake the next day. 

    A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics found a “strong and consistent association” between tech use at bedtime or in the bedroom and inadequate sleep quantity, poor sleep quality, and excessive daytime sleepiness.  

    5. It can hinder learning 
    We might be living in a touch-screen world where the need to write things down by hand becomes more and more unnecessary, but research shows just why our kids still need to learn how to wield a pen. Working with our hands, such as writing with a pencil on paper, exercises the brain more than typing on a screen, says a study conducted by Dr. Karin James, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at Indiana University. 

    Typing, Dr. James found, does not “contribute to the child's knowledge of letters” like the experience of writing them by hand — even if the final handwritten letters turn out messy and inaccurate. The takeaway? Give your child a fun and colorful writing materials instead of downloading an app when teaching him to write.  

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