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02 August 2015

Germany: Doctors Warn of the Use of Tablets and Smartphones by Children

Child playing with smartphone.  Overwork, headaches,
ADHD and mental illness:  physicians are seeing in children
the negative consequences of the growing use of digital media.
(Photo:  AP)
Doctors warn of the use of tablets and smartphones by children
Author: dpa, handelsblatt.com, 31 July 2015 (translated from German by Google and the Editor of this blog)

More and more children are using mobile media. Doctors see this as critical and warn of health hazards. They also do not believe that the early use of technology will help later in a digitized world of work.

Berlin :  Smartphones, tablets and computers are, in the opinion of pediatricians, detrimental to the spiritual development of children in spite of the latest developments. "We pediatricians are convinced of significant health and psychological impairments and see this daily in our practices," said Till Reckert of the Professional Association of Child and Adolescent Physicians (BVKJ) Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

One danger is the fact that parents neglect their children, because their smartphones are more important, said the pediatrician, Vice-Chairman of the BVKJ in Baden-Württemberg. "There are great challenges ahead of us."
Physicians are seeing a worrying increase in overwork, headaches, ADHD, and mental illness, which is linked to the growing use of digital media. "Preschoolers must first learn to cope freely with their bodies, their feelings, the world and other people," Reckert said. "Screen media is actually a hindrance."

The expert particularly criticizes the lack of experience of children in dealing with art: "In everyday life, unfortunately we ​​often observe the rather unprofessional behavior of the "digital natives" towards their machines." Without the necessary basic understanding, children are often overwhelmed and crushed by the sheer endless information and possibilities of the devices. As a result, they become dependent.

The expert does not think much of the argument that children should be brought up as early as possible with digital technology in order to respond later to an increasingly digitized world of work: "In our practices, we see just the opposite: The more and earlier the media consumption in childhood and adolescence, the greater the likelihood that children will not cope well with life and and also with the media," Reckert said. "I suspect that whoever at an early age is exclusively googling to get his information, will later be a worse researcher."

Susanne Rieschel of the initiative "Schau hin" does not agree with the general prohibitions of digital technology for children. "Instead of spreading alarm, we advise prudence, according to our motto 'understand rather than prohibit','" said the teacher. "Basically, parents must actively support and accompany their children's use of smartphones and tablets..." This includes clear rules: what can be viewed and when your smartphone is taboo.

"We advise parents, especially of younger children, to actively accompany them", said the education expert from the digital association Bitkom, Stephan Pfisterer. "An age limit makes no sense. Smartphones and tablet computers can be operated intuitively and can also be used by young children."

According to Pfisterer, the mobile devices can also be beneficial: "Especially if they are interactive and have a learning effect."  For example, in educational games, children need to take part in the contents and decisions, and practice their skills. "They feel a sense of achievement and learn through play, for example, with shapes, colors or the alphabet."

Original article in German:

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