Social media and smartphones have become an integral part of our daily lives. They have revolutionised the way we communicate, entertain ourselves, and access information. However, excessive use of social media and smartphones can have negative effects on children, both mentally and physically.

One of the major negative effects of social media and smartphone usage by children is getting addicted to it. Children are easily hooked to the constant flow of notifications, likes, comments, and messages that social media offers. They may spend hours scrolling through their feeds, neglecting their studies, socialising, and physical activities. This addiction can have detrimental effects on their mental health, leading to anxiety, depression, and poor self-esteem.

Another negative aspect of social media applications is cyberbullying. Social media provides a platform for bullies to harass, humiliate, and intimidate their victims. Children who are victims of cyberbullying may suffer from anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. They may also develop a social phobia and avoid social interactions, leading to social isolation. Children are vulnerable to viewing inappropriate sexual content, violence and profanity which is not suitable for their age. Disturbingly, social media platforms can also be used by child predators to lure minors, usually through fake accounts.

In addition, intense screen use can have adverse effects on children’s sleep patterns. The blue light emitted by these devices can interfere with the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, suppressing hormones such as melatonin being released in the brain at night, making it difficult for children to fall asleep at an ideal time. This can lead to sleep deprivation, which can have negative effects on their physical and mental health, including fatigue, irritability, and poor academic performance.

Moreover, sitting in front of the screen all the time can lead to a sedentary lifestyle, which can have negative effects on children’s physical health. Children who spend most of their time on their devices may not engage in physical activities such as sports, which are essential for their physical development. This can lead to obesity, diabetes, and other health problems.

Finally, screen use can have negative effects on children’s cognitive development. Children who spend most of their time on their devices may not engage in activities that stimulate their brains, such as reading, problem-solving, and creative thinking. The constant stimuli of fluorescent colours and satisfying sounds can diminish their attention span. This can lead to poor cognitive development, negatively affecting their academic performance and future success.

In conclusion, social media and smartphone use can have negative effects on children, both mentally and physically. Parents and caregivers need to monitor their children’s device usage and ensure that they are not addicted, cyberbullied, sleep-deprived, sedentary, or cognitively impaired. Parents should also encourage their children to engage in physical activities, reading, problem-solving, and creative thinking to promote their overall health and well-being. By doing so, we can ensure that our children grow up to be healthy, happy, and successful individuals.

Article Credits:
Dr. Archana Dinaraj, Pediatrician, CareMithra
Rohan Panicker, Creative Writer, CareMithra