Just say no to kids instead of giving them mobiles

Rasha al Raisi – In an advertisement played on our TV frequently, a dad comes back from work to see his three children — less than 10 years old — busy on different devices. The elder girl on a smartphone, the boy on a play station and the youngest on a tablet. The dad stands in the middle of the room feeling sad and you could hear him thinking loudly: “My children had stopped greeting me whenever I came back! They never look at me! It feels as if I don’t exist!”.
The next scene is of each child with his/her device with a window that appears on screen numbering the disadvantages of each device: anti-social behaviour, depression, back and neck ache and speech delay.
Now if you were in the dad’s shoes what would you do? Being my practical self, I thought that the next scene after this warning — that came with a noisy siren — the dad would switch off the Wi-Fi, gather his kids kicking and screaming into the car and drive them to a nice beach where they could spend some quality time together (the same thought came to my brother when I asked him about how should the next scene of the advert be).
Even better, the dad would limit the Internet usage to be for an hour only on weekends.
Instead, the advert gave an astonishing solution that would never cross anybody’s mind.
The dad walks in again, but this time instead of standing in the middle of the living room lamenting his luck and his children’s neglect, he sits next to each child and peaks over their screens, while throwing a casual arm over their shoulder and chatting like old buddies.
If you’re baffled by the moral of the advert: it’s your responsibility to monitor your children while they’re using the Internet.
The question that comes to mind is: why would a child less than five-year-old — like shown in the advert — use a tablet? Or a girl less than ten owns a smartphone? I discovered the answer when going out for coffee with my friend, his wife and two children who’re less than five.
When the kids got irritable from being confined in their chairs, my friend gave each a smartphone.
I was shocked and told him frankly that what he’s doing was totally wrong.
I numbered the neurological affects of such devices on children’s cognitive development and the answer I got from my friend? “You’re absolutely right! We’re monitoring their usage.
They’re allowed to use it for twenty minutes a day!”
My friend and his wife were relaxed as they chatted happily, while my worried gaze shifted between them and their children.
The children were in a zombie-like state staring at the screens — the girl was actually drooling and her parents failed to notice that.
Of course, not all parents are like that.
My other friend and her husband had decided that smartphones are not toys to be given to children.
The husband exchanged his smartphone with an old Nokia one, so that the kid would grow up and develop the way we all did: without a smart phone in sight.
I was happy to go out with them and witness a normal curious child of almost two, who ran around and gazed at colourful books.
According to my friend’s paediatrician, early exposure to smartphones and devices causes symptoms that are typically related to Autism such as: speech impedance, avoidance of eye contact and antisocial behaviour.
After reading this, if your child starts bugging you about using or owning a smartphone, I hope you’d say no.
Rasha al Raisi is a certified skills trainer and the author of: The World According to Bahja.