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Nomophobia: Kids, phone addiction and parents’ responsibility

By Afreen Hamid

Srinagar, Feb 8: Nomophobia is a term used when an individual experiences anxiety due to fear of not having access to mobile phones.
The problem occurs when parents use mobile phones as “shut up toys” for their children during daily activities such as eating, family get-togethers and while driving.
While talking to many parents among my relatives and neighbourhood, I was dismayed to know that above 70 per cent of them said they have allowed their children to spend on an average 3-4 hours a day with mobile phones while the remaining 30 per cent said their children get one or less than an hour of screen time during a day.
I have witnessed parents too engrossed with their official and/or domestic work while they coddle their children with the most convenient toy: mobile phones.
Gone are the days when parents use to feed their children with the morally guiding stories. Now, just handing over to them a screen makes parenting a whole lot easier, giving parents the freedom from constant noisiness at the table­–be at home or restaurant.
Parents need to ponder about applying this short cut. They need to know that by doing so they are making their child a ‘phone addict’.
Being distracted during eating can also result in improper chewing of food. In addition, the kids will hardly have any interaction with their family members and will finally grow to be a Nomophobic. This addiction is, most likely, going to trigger further physical and psychological issues in the children.
Parents need to aware of the fact that excessive use of mobile phones comes with a list of hazards they should be aware of in order to pull their kids out of this morass.
Supplemented by research, following are the risks involved with mobile phone addiction:
TUMOUR: Phone radiations have adverse effects that could be different from those of adults. A child is in a stage where their body is undergoing changes and growth.
When a child keeps a mobile phone close to his or her ears, and use it for outstretched time, there are high chances of developing non-malignant tumours especially in the regions of ear and brain.
The bones tissues and protective linings of organs such as brain are thinner in kids so these organs end up absorbing 60 per cent of radiations that are emitted by mobile phones.
The radiation can have a strange effect on the human body sometimes directly impacting the nervous system. The same has been classified by the World Health Organisation as “possible carcinogen” and carries a potential risk of cancer.
Maladjusted Brain Activity: Parents always complain of their child’s mood patterns, misbehaviour, aggression, behavioural tendencies, trouble in focusing, predisposing, learning etc.
But parents must know the root cause, mobile phones. Mobile phones primarily function on electromagnetic waves for all forms of communication in the neural network. In children, the waves from the phone can easily penetrate right into the interior parts of the brain, since they don’t have a strong shield. Research has shown that by nearly talking for two minutes on phone, the electrical activity inside a child’s brain can b changed. This erratic activity basically gives rise to the above perturbations
Depression Anxiety: This is the lack of human contact and results in mental health problems. A recent study showed that teens who prefer virtual to real life communication tend to have high-level social anxiety or even depression.
Techno Stress: Have parents even noticed why their child always walk off from any social gathering and remains isolated with the mobile phone and why do they avoid face to face interactions and prefer being in isolation.A child addicted to phones looks for a quarantined corner and a smartphone. This, in other words, is the technostress that has balefully affected the child. He is not able to present himself in front of the world. Neither he likes nor does he want to communicate with the people around. He faces social anxiety and this adversely affects all spheres of their lives­–school, family and their responsibilities
Ringxiety: A cell phone addict becomes too dependent on cellular devices that they always keep their devices in their reach even during sleep, with the cell phones beside their pillow. They never turn their phone off and have a hawk eye at the screens to avoid missing texts, phone calls, and other notifications. They carry their cell phones everywhere they go, even in washrooms. Irrational reactions and extreme reactions due to anxiety and stress may be experienced by the individual in public settings where mobile phones are restricted.
Undoubtedly parents are to be blamed for this addiction since they are ones who first hand over a phone to their kids. It’s high time parents actively say NO to smartphones especially on dining tables and places and times they are close to their kids.
The parents can take the following precautions and steps to ensure they keep their children far away from the addiction to mobile phones.

 

1. Limit the time kids spend on a phone and other tech devices
2. Have proper control over the search content of phones.
3. Use parental control to every application your child uses in mobile phones.
4. Arrange and encourage face to face social interactions
5. Plan frequent outdoors, make your child realise about true enjoyment
6. Have with your child a fruitful verbal communication about the disadvantages of excess usage of smartphones.
The author can be reached at [email protected]