Electronic Devices and Children. Part 1

Electronic Devices and Children. Part 1

In this article you will learn how electronics manufacturers use children’s perception and mind features to create toys, as well as analyze the danger of gadgets.

Firstly, it should be mentioned that children under five have a special feature that determines the nature of the interaction with electronic devices. As soon as babies sit up, the outside world becomes interesting to them. The more vivid the colors of objects are and the richer they sound, the more they attract the baby.

Electronics and toys manufacturers know that and they make toys with vivid colors, with big elements and built-in sounds. Even stuffed toys often have sound effects now. These are funny songs from popular cartoons, counting, poems, and rhymes. Such toys are called interactive because you can “communicate” with them by pressing different spots or changing their position.

Children explore the world and during the first 2-3 years of their life and it is important for them to manipulate items. This is a simple research using the principle “what impact I can have on the outside world.” Such research has a side effect that adults are not happy about - babies tend to throw glass or ceramic ware to see if it breaks. They carry out a “scientific experiment.” The same thing happens with rattles. Babies will not throw soft items - they are of no interest to them.

The same goes for electronic toys. Some time ago, hammers cheeping if you hit something hard were very popular. When parents got tired of such games, hammers no longer seemed attractive. They stayed away from them in shops.

Electronic gadgets, i.e. smartphones, tablets, laptops, are different. They unite everything that excites children: change of vivid images, moving objects on the screen, fragility, possibility to handle with light finger movements, various sounds. That captures the baby’s attention and they are absolutely focused on the process.

A lot of parents note that a baby playing with a tab becomes very quiet and can spend unusually much time with it. On the one hand, it’s a short break for parents but on the other, the capture of attention can cause serious risks to the baby’s development.

What is the capture of attention and what is the main risk for harmonious development of the child?

The capture of attention is a mental state when all the perception channels (vision, hearing, tactile sensations) are blocked.

The mind works intensively too, it processes information and solves problems. Even an adult finds it hard to respond to external stimuli. That is why children freeze and don’t respond: their mind is completely focused on a game or cartoon.

The capture of attention can be compared with a high voltage shock: muscles become tense and it’s impossible to unclench hands. As long as the current runs, a person will be shocked. The same thing happens with the mind: it is overwhelmed with the information that the child tries to absorb.

The smartphone looks quite harmless. But it can damage the child’s psyche as much as the electric current.

The major problem is that children can’t finish playing a game or watching a video themselves. Games have everything set so that one task goes after another and there is no ultimate goal. Children go round in circles of tasks they get prizes for in the form of vivid animation. This circle creates an artificial need to go on but there is the other need to finish. Do you remember how some pending activity can bother you on the back of your mind? The case is the same. But the conflict here arises for no reason at all between the wish to go on and to complete the process.

You can often hear your playing child saying “more” and “let me finish the game!”

The child’s mind goes through an enormous stress and every minute counts. That’s why children start crying and screaming during one or two hours after playing games or watching cartoons. These are psychological signals of the exhaustion - the resources of the nervous system are run out and children feel an overwhelming discomfort.

Follow the safety instruction our next article will tell about to protect your child from the harmful effects of gadgets.