While people of all ages seem unable to live without a touchscreen device –
smartphone, tablet or i-Pad and all the rest – Rambam Medical Center experts
worry that the mobile devices pose serious threats, especially to young
Recent surveys have shown that as the use of the interactive
devices spreads even to kindergarten children – with a third of those aged six
to nine having their own cellphone – touchscreen devices threaten to affect them
physically, emotionally, cognitively and developmentally.
Shehadeh, director of the pediatrics A department at Rambam and the juvenile
diabetes and obesity clinic, said this week that tablets can lead to serious
overweight in children.
“A fat child is very likely to turn into a fat
adult, with all the risks of diabetes, hypertension, high cardiac risk and more.
The causes include the lack of physical activity.
I don’t exaggerate when
I say that the most common physical activity in young people today is moving
their fingers on the touch screen of a computerized device, which is why the
current crop of young people is called ‘the Touch Generation.’ Even when they go
out, they are usually busy with their touch screens. There is no doubt that the
Touch Generation is a significant high-risk group for the development of
overweight at a young age,” said Shehadeh.
Besides the fact that the
brains of very young children, with thin skulls, could be affected by
electromagnetic radiation from cellphones held close to their heads, there are
many other risks not connected directly to physiological health, said
Dr. Dana Amisar, an expert in child and adolescent psychiatry and
head of children’s psychiatry at the Haifa hospital, said that there are also
Children are increasingly exposed to the
world not by experiences but to a virtual world via the screen.
attention used to be dependent on what happened directly in their environment at
a certain time. But now, she said, their attention is captured by the screen.
They have less direct connection with friends and more virtually, giving the
impression that they are ‘connected’ and are in contact. But in fact, many
children see their friends less and less, and whole relationships begin, carry
on and end virtually.”
The average touch-screen user receives some 150
messages and SMSs per day while they are doing other things. At any given
moment, the user must divide his attention among all these “events,” said
Amisar, and each activity cuts off the previous one. This reduces the quality of
their attention and reduces their freedom of choice.
dependent on the devices and can’t manage without, the psychiatrist
The latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of
Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association, lists
“Internet addiction” as a new diagnosis and notes the need for more
Such addiction, said Amisar, can cause users to forgo social
ties or daily tasks, reduce their ability to reach satisfaction, and lead to the
inability to stop using computers and smartphones and using the Internet to try
to improve their mood or escape from reality.
Researchers around the
world who collect data say the phenomenon is quickly becoming a syndrome like
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