Children using mobile technology devices face complex impacts, evidence indicates

By Dee-Dee S.C.E. 

Children face complex effects of using today’s portable devices that have combined telephone, television, video games, personal computers, the internet, and many other technologies, according to a compilation of articles that considered these wide-ranging effects.

According to the report, a range of outcomes can be gleaned from these articles, including those aspects where mobile technology may pose potential dangers as well as those where it can support development.

These articles appeared in a special section in Child Development, a journal published by the Society for Research in Child Development.

The section, Contemporary Mobile Technology and Child Adolescent Development, contains at least seven articles that considered a diverse set of outcomes.

Child Development is edited by Dr. Zheng Yan and Dr. Lennart Hardell, whose work on putting together these article under this special section added important information in this area of research.

Radiation and brain development was one of the important examples cited in the report.

Summarized by Dr. Lennart Hardell, the article outlines the potential benefits to development, that “mobile technology offers new, unique ways for young children to maintain contact with family members not physically present,” the report said.

According to Yan, the mobile technologies of today influence child and adolescent development in a unique and powerful way.

“Its use is very personal for children and adolescents, occurs almost anywhere and anytime, and integrates telephone, television, video games, personal computers, the Internet, and many new technologies into a portable device. The evidence indicates complex impacts on young mobile technology users,” he said.

Yan also said that of the nearly three billion children and adolescents in the world, “Most of them were, are, or will be various types of mobile technology users, interacting with and being influenced by mobile technology in numerous ways.”

Written by national and international scholars, the articles covered the complex impact of mobile technology on infants, toddlers, children, teens, and parents, with the following areas of outcomes:

  • Risks of using mobile phones while driving, walking, and bicycling (Stavrinos)
  • Risks of radiation in mobile phone use for brain development (Hardell; Sage)
  • Effects of mobile technology on cognitive control and attention in contexts such as parenting and early brain development and (McDaniel; Li; McClure)
  • Risks of sexting /increased risky behavior through peer pressure and social media interaction (Rice; Sherman)
  • Effects of mobile technology use on sleep, mood, and mental health (Vernon; George/Odgers)
  • Potential for monitoring children’s locations/children’s attitudes towards security and monitoring through GPS tracking (Gelman)
  • Increased connectivity across spaces and cultures (Shapka; Coyne)

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