The pediatricians have no doubts: the mobile phone is not a suitable tool to entertain children. Although the guidelines are very clear and prescribe that the use of technology for children is something that should be limited and controlled, many parents use smartphones and tablets to “keep their children in good behavior”. Dr. Nuara Marco, pediatrician and Neonatologist of San Pio X Humanitas, explains why this behavior should be avoided, especially when dealing with children under the age of 2.
The new directives of the Italian pediatric society
An official document on the use of mobile phones, smartphones and tablets in children from 0 to 8 years of age has arrived for the first time from the Italian Society of Pediatrics. The guidelines of Italian specialists, published in the Italian Journal of Pediatrics, were presented in Rome on the occasion of the 74th Italian congress of pediatrics, just at a time when in France mobile phones are banned at school.
The indication is very clear: no to smartphones and tablets for children under two years of age, especially during meals and before going to sleep. Limiting the use of devices to a maximum of one hour a day is what specialists recommend in children between 2 and 5 years, while for those between 5 and 8 years should not exceed two hours a day.
Stop tears and whims without the use of a mobile phone
In Italy, 8 out of 10 children between the ages of 3 and 5 know how to use their parents’ mobile phones. And most of the time it happens that mum and dad are often too permissive: 30% of parents use their smartphones to distract or calm their children during the first year of life, 70% during the second year. However, the document of the Italian Society of Pediatrics strongly discourages this use. In particular, it is necessary that parents pay attention to programs with violent content and especially that they do not use their mobile phone as a “peacemaker” of conflicts, to quell cries and whims.
“The indications are no different from those concerning the use of television – explains Dr. Marco Nuara – just that tablets and smartphones have taken the place of television. “Or worse, they add up to television”. “In addition, as with the pacifier, the use of the smartphone as a peacemaker creates a habit, in this cases a bad habit”.
Good example: It must start with the parents
There is already a great deal of scientific evidence showing that the interactions between the excessive use of technology and neuro-cognitive development, sleep, sight, hearing, metabolic functions and parent-child relationships do not help growth. On the contrary, it is important to set limits for children and find alternative ways to entertain and calm them. “It is equally important that children sometimes have the opportunity to get bored – adds the pediatrician – because boredom can be an opportunity to exercise their creativity. “Parents, among other things, should be the first to limit the use of devices and set a good example to children who are great imitators – cautions Dr. Marco Nuara – The same parents, limiting the use of smartphones would gain time and opportunities to interact more with their children.
The Society of Pediatrics does not want to criminalize digital technologies. “These devices should not be demonized – emphasizes Dr. Marco Nuara -, they can have many useful applications and represent the present and future of our children. On the other hand, pediatricians care about children’s physical and mental health and cannot refrain from reporting the documented risks of early and prolonged exposure to smartphones and tablets.