Negative effects of smartphones on children

Smartphones are magical tools we cannot live without, young and old, and they have made our modern lives much easier. But are they safe for children? This article explains the harmful effects of smartphones on children and how to protect your children.

Published on:Apr 28th 2024 |Updated on:May 10th 2024
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When can a child use smartphones?

We often see infants sitting in a car seat or stroller, watching YouTube cartoons or other children's videos through a mother or father's smartphone who wants a quiet time out. However, given the many harmful effects of smartphones on children, the American Association of Pediatrics stresses the importance of not exposing children under 18 months to screens of any kind.

Even when a child under two years old is allowed to watch screens, this should be at most a few minutes while accompanied by a parent or a caregiver.

Harmful effects of smartphones on children

  • Increased possibility of delayed speech.
  • Delayed development of motor and cognitive skills.
  • Decreased communication and other social skills.
  • Poor problem-solving skills.
  • Even after a child begins to speak, his vocabulary might be weak, and his ability to speak will be affected by the long hours of silence while watching screens.
  • Increased risk of childhood obesity.
  • Increased risk of ADHD.
  • Negative impact on the child's mental health.
  • Child sleep problems include waking up at night, not sleeping enough hours, or sleeping too much.
  • Decline in academic achievement.
  • Also, children who watch smartphones and tablet screens do not read books and do not like reading, which is one of the most beneficial activities for a child’s mental development.
  • Leaving a child with screens unattended makes the child vulnerable to watching inappropriate content, such as nudity, sex, and violence. At an older age, when the child uses social media platforms, he may become vulnerable to cyberbullying and child predators.

How can I protect my children from screens?

  • Do not allow a child under one and a half to watch screens.
  • Between the ages of one and a half and two years, a child can watch half an hour a day of useful educational programs, provided that a parent is always present next to the child and agrees that the viewing time is limited to avoid tantrums.
  • Tell your child about what he sees and encourage him to describe it. Tell him about the events, feelings, and characters he sees to develop his verbal and analytical skills.
  • Encourage your child to engage in several motor and creative activities during the day, make them the main meal, and let screens be the dessert he gets at a specific time and in a limited quantity after he has eaten the entire main meal.
  • Use parental protection programs on your children's devices and specify the content they can view and the duration.
  • Check your children's programs and applications and ensure their content is appropriate and safe.
  • Educate your school-age child about safety and privacy online and ensure he does not use social media at a young age. Experts indicate that it is unsafe for psychological and mental health before the age of sixteen.
  • Be a role model, and don't spend your whole day on your mobile phone.


Screens are part of our lives; we adults use them every moment of our day, starting with waking us up in the morning, reminding us of our appointments, helping us get where we want, and helping us find educational content like this article. However, these useful devices are only partially safe for our children. We must encourage them to use them cautiously and monitor, protect, and protect them all the time.

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