Children and smartphone addiction

Muna Al Fuzai

If you are a parent of a teenager, then you better read this story. It seems that the attachment of children and teenagers to their smartphones has become an addiction, like that to drugs. Depriving a child from their device for any reason may lead to anger and acts of craziness that could be deadly and dangerous.

US authorities arrested a 12-year-old girl in Colorado, who was accused of trying to kill her mother twice by poisoning her with a chemical material that is used in bleaching textiles, because she took away her iPhone. The Boulder County police chief said in a press release that the mother ingested the chemical in one of the two attempts, but luckily survived and was sent to hospital for treatment.

I think the issue is not merely about depriving a child from a phone or game, but it is often noticed that parents themselves encourage their children from a very young age to use mobile devices to watch cartoons to keep quiet and not cause any commotion or inconvenience for the adults.

So it becomes normal for the child to turn to that device to be their all-day friend, and any attempt to deprive the child of this close companion for any reason – good or bad – may lead to anger or madness, and they may commit a crime without knowing the seriousness of what they do or possibly hurt and harm themselves. The police said the girl was arrested and taken to a juvenile detention facility, pending charges.

I think what happened to this family is a crime of violence without doubt, but we have to wonder who is responsible for this drama. It can be the easiest thing to placate a crying or noisy baby, because all you need is to take a smartphone, find a game or cartoon, and put it in the child’s hands, and the kid will be quiet and still as if they have been muted. How many of us think that there might be a mental health issue behind this act? What could happen if I dared after many years to separate my child from his old and close friend?

Sky News published a report last year titled ‘How to protect your child from mobile addiction’. It was reported that in Seattle, a number of children under the age of 13 and addicted to their mobile phone turned their phones into a virtual world. Experts warn of excessive use of mobile devices by children for organic diseases, such as obesity, distraction and poor concentration.

In Kuwait too, cases of violence between children and their families have increased significantly. Hence the children’s rights law was issued to protect children from possible abuse. At the same time, Kuwait’s general prosecution called for the death penalty for child killers. This request came after the killing of five-year-old Fatima by her mother and her lover. The girl was brutally tortured and killed in Aug 2017. A year ago, we saw a teenage girl beating her father over some trivial reason. Such crimes mean that there is a real problem between children and their families, whether it is about a phone or something else.
It is strange that some are demanding phone companies to control the sites that children can access through the Internet, but they ignore the fact that there is parental responsibility too.

Parents have the ability to control the usage of smartphones of their kids, because children aren’t buying smartphones on their own. It is necessary to take into account the warnings of children’s addiction to smartphones. Keeping a child silent for a long time does not mean that everything is alright. Parents need to communicate with their children, because you don’t know what this virtual friend whispers to them.

By Muna Al-Fuzai
muna@kuwaittimes.net


This article was published on 01/02/2018