Counsellor & Psychotherapist
Masters of Counselling & Psychotherapy UofA
Member of the ACA College of Supervisors
Level 3 Member Australian Counselling Association
There is no arguing that technology has certainly made our lives easier. The mobile phone has made communication and connection easier than it ever has been. We are in constant contact with each other. That is unless the other party has turned their phone off, we just need them to answer and we can establish their whereabouts.
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That is why so many parents provide mobile phones to children. It provides them with a constant link to their parents, it is a safety option for those times which can be a little scary, and it is a check in point for those times when they are not sure of the right thing to do. It provides security at both ends of the phone.
The mobile plans these days are so diverse it is easy to locate the right plan which isn't going to break the bank and provide the accessibility to family, friends and peers that we all crave. Not to mention the feeling that only a parent can feel when they know where their children are. A comfort that our parents didn't have at their fingertips.
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Just like anything in life there is always the other side of the story which in this case can be cause for concern. The old adage of 'you can have too much of a good thing' rings true when it comes to mobile phone usage.
There is of particular concern regarding mobile phone usage when it comes to the developing brain. The information available to parents is inconclusive at this stage. However I do think we do need to take heed that this topic is being debated. Currently and historically there have been studies conducted to investigate the impacts on the uses of mobile technology on the developing brain.
One area of concern regarding the level of impact on the developing brain is the area of cognition. Cognition is really important for a number of reasons. It is how we think, and how we make those important decisions. Cognition is also how we process and recall information. These are all functions which are created and refined in the developing brain. Cognition is linked to intelligence and educational achievement . It is in these formative building blocks that our unique innovative potential is developed. What are the consequences of interruption during this process? We share our unique attributes with our families and society as a whole. Cognition is not only a necessity for optimum functioning, it is essential for you to achieve your full potential.
As a parent it is difficult to make the right decision regarding your children's usage of technology. Not unlike the myriad of decisions that you need to make for your children's welfare. As usual the waters are further muddied by the conflicting results which have been found by studies on the impact on the brain because of exposure to radio frequency. The reports range from those who report no association between exposure, to the radio frequency waves from mobile phones and brain cancer. Yet there are just as many studies who demonstrate the exact opposite of these findings. So what is a parent to do? The answer I believe is simple - become informed.
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It is important to take note of the difference between an adult brain and a developing brain. These structural differences actually make the developing brain more susceptible to radiation. This is due to the brain and nervous system not being fully developed. The higher volume of fluid in their brains also allows radiation to penetrate the brain far more easily. It would then seem logical to arrive at the conclusion that the use of mobile phones and wireless devices should then be monitored to prevent overuse and potential health impacts.
There are devices which claim to reduce the impact of electromagnetic fields (EMF's). EMF's are credited with invasion of your cells, have the ability to break apart DNA strands, and compromise your immune system. Adults are now being diagnosed as having a sensitivity to EMF's which are producing symptoms such as chronic headaches, foggy headed, memory loss, broken sleep, chronic pain, flu like symptoms, dizziness, depression and anxiety.
If adults are reporting such negative impacts through the over exposure to mobile phone and wireless technology then I think it speaks strongly to the need to monitor your children's use of these tools. As well as investigating what child suitable EMF devices are available to support safe usage of their mobile phone.
Don't get me wrong, I would be lost without my mobile phone. It connects me to the world, it is convenient, I can run my business without having to be confined to an office as well as countless other benefits. I am also wise enough to use this piece of equipment with moderation. I have lived long enough to know there are other ways to spend my time and maintain connection with my friends and family. I also have the wisdom to understand that I am not bullet proof and that my health is not something to be taken for granted.
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As parents we need to set our children up for success. Our job is to provide a framework for them to become self differentiated, self determining and autonomous individuals. This means includes managing the potential risks as much as possible to their developing brains and bodies. No I am not suggesting you purchase a bubble.
Children need to be included in this process, and this can be done by providing them with the facts about the equipment they use. Whatever that equipment is you need to alert them to the rules of engagement.
I see mobile phones as no different to push bikes. You wouldn't allow your child to ride in the traffic without an understanding of the potential hazards. You also wouldn't allow them to ride without the appropriate protective equipment such as helmets and foot wear.
It is possible to apply these same principles to the use of technology. Don't let its size fool you, just because a mobile phone can fit in the palm of your hand doesn't mean there aren't responsibilities that come with their use.Not to mention the consequences from their misuse.
I am not trying to scare people. It is a fact just because we can't see something doesn't mean it isn't having an impact on us. If EMF's are being debated about, if studies are being conducted then there is a need for awareness. There is a possibility there and it is important to take this into account when you make the decision to provide your child with this life changing piece of technology.
Convenience and connection are life changing but on the flip side so is cancer and loss of cognition. As parents it is up to us to make the right decisions for our children. This can only be achieved when we have all the information at hand. We can then balance up the pros and the cons and make the right decision for our family, and our children's developing brains and bodies.