Mobile phones and devices are embedded into the daily lives of us all, including children because of the ease of use, portability, breadth of content and integration into a multitude of daily functions. The research regarding the adverse impact of devices on the mental health of children is increasing but still developing and still have a long way to go.
With the normalisation of device use, we have to be careful that we aren’t disregarding our instincts regarding device use in our children. Devices can be toxic for child mental health for a number of reasons.
It can prevent them from processing their emotions. When children are distracted by devices, they aren’t present in the world around them. This may result in them not learning from their environment and it may also result in them not processing emotions, especially those that they find difficult. When emotions are not processed in childhood, it can have an adverse effect on their mental health and may manifest as mental health problems in adolescence and adulthood.
If children become accustomed to using devices to manage and regulate their emotions, they may struggle to regulate their emotions in adolescence and adulthood. Emotional regulation is essential for psychological stability and therefore teaching children how to regulate their emotions and equipping them with healthy coping strategies, rather than reaching for a device to avoid dealing with their emotions, is important for their psychological development. Children start learning to regulate their emotions as babies.