More kids hooked to phones

Encouraging children to take up physical activity is one of the many ways to deal with mobile phone addiction, docs say

Doctors say that 93 per cent of children between six and 17 have access to smartphones.

Mobile addiction is an increasingly common problem in Bengaluru, and even children as young as six are affected, say behavioural experts. Among the symptoms are attention deficit, anxiety, and restlessness.

Dr Pallavi Arvind Joshi, consultant psychiatrist, Columbia Asia Hospital, sees the problem growing among teenagers. “Nomophobia is an increasing concern and mobile addiction comes under the many other addictions that are not named,” she says.

“Teenagers are often doing a catharsis of their emotions through blogging or talking on the phone, and that is not the best way to do it,” she says. Parents must be guided to handle teenagers who are addicted to mobile phones, she reckons.

“Self-control can’t be expected of children under 12. In the West, limited time is prescribed for usage of gadgets and the mobile phone. Parents should monitor children and provide them with real-life challenges to divert their attention,” she says.

The best way to handle mobile addiction is to not allow it at all, says Tasneem Nakhoda, counsellor and psychotherapist at Tattva Counseling.

“Parents should control mobile usage from the initial days. Delay the process as much as possible; youngsters below 14 should not be allowed to own a mobile and the time spent by teenagers on a phone should not go beyond 30 minutes at a stretch,” she says.

Children sometimes throw tantrums when not allowed screen time. Peer pressure is strong. Parents should understand why a child is reacting in a particular way. Excessive exposure to mobile phones can lead to anxiety and borderline depression, she warns.

“In the last eight months, 85 per cent of teenagers I have counselled have had problems linked to excessive exposure to mobile phones, digital screens and social media,” she says.  

Aisha Sagir, psychologist with Aster CMI Hospital, says 93 per cent of children between six and 17 have access to smartphones. “And 66 per cent have their own devices. Mobile phones act as shut-up toys and that is risky,” she says.

Setting a time for phone and Net use is a must, in her opinion. Most parents don’t know how to practise parental control on YouTube and other websites. Encourage apps which involve parent and child, she says.

“Comparison and persistent demand for a better mobile phone model, children isolating themselves in a room, continually recording or clicking photographs at a family event rather enjoying real moments, and mild panic attacks when the mobile phone runs out of charge, are signs of mobile addiction,” she says.

Is your child addicted?

Counsellors suggest you try these

- Encourage treks and outdoor activities.

- Visit underprivileged, challenged people.

- Set mobile-free zones at home to talk and play.

- Mark an evening in a week for detox: no mobiles.

- Be role models; cut down your own mobile usage.

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More kids hooked to phones

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