German paediatricians and adolescent physicians warn against smartphones and tablets

gl. The Berufsverband der deutschen Kinder- und Jugendärzte, BVKJ (Professional Association of German Paediatricians and Adolescent Physicians) has warned against the too frequent and too early use of smartphones by both children and adolescents.  In an interview with the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung“  president Thomas Fischbach stated that paediatricians and adolescent doctors were horrified to see children clinging to smartphones or tablets at ever younger ages. “Parents no longer teach their children how to play or occupy themselves in meaningful ways. They are parking their offspring in front of devices. This dreadful trend has catastrophic consequences for children’s development”.  Children of tender years are being conditioned by continuous overstimulation. This is one of the causes of the deterioration of children’s ability to concentrate. “Even the brightest minds buckle under constant media bombardment. As a rule: the higher a child’s media consumption, the weaker will be their school performance, as numerous studies have proven.“
President  Fischbach urged parents to awaken to their responsibility for their children’s educational development. The basic rule should be: No mobile phone before the age of eleven.  Nor should it be an internet-compatible mobile phone. It was frightening to observe how reckless parents were with regard to their small children’s use of the internet. Such an easy-going attitude was fatally naive.  The longer smartphone use could be postponed, the better for children.
In response to the question as to how long children should be permitted to game, Dr Fischbach stated that the warning lights should flash when children stopped meeting with friends, or gave up on their normal involvement in sports, choosing instead to spend an inordinate amount of their free time on media.  Two hours a day was enough. If it ever became clear that immersion in media was dominating a child’s everyday life, parents should definitely intervene.
According to new surveys, young people in Switzerland spend an average of four hours per day online in their free time. At weekends, according to young people, this can rise to as much as eight hours per day. This leaves little time for real life.
What these developments mean in terms of outcome for the personal development of an adolescent can probably only be assessed in the long term.    •

Source: Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung from 30 October 2019

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