Friday, 18 April 2014

The Great Phone Epidemic - Part 4

The Great Phone Epidemic – The Electronic Babysitter is eating your Babies Brain! (Part 4)

Claire - April 11, 2014 

Parenting is such a spectator sport these days and you can find a million blogs, articles and research papers to tell you how you are doing it wrong. The developing human, after all these years,  is still a mystery to us in many ways. As we learn more, the advice parents are given is getting more confusing not less. Having said that, I am going to give you my two cents about why you shouldn’t give your baby the phone to play with.

The stifling of the creative.

As adults we have approximately 8,000,000km of neural pathways tucked up in our skulls (seriously, just digest that figure for a second. Wow!). The pathways we use the most become like the highways and those we hardly use at all are like goat tracks up a mountainside. Some are much easier to travel than others, so these become our regular thought patterns which lead to our habits. Creativity and innovation come from exploring the less travelled paths.

In many ways, a baby’s brain is like virgin land. There are so many places to go, but you either need to seek out a track made by the wild animals or beat your own paths. If you were wanting to experience all that the land had to offer, you would spend a lot of time making new tracks. The greater your curiosity, the more creative you would become in where you went. Babies and small children are naturally curious, they strive to understand how the world works and their part in it. They generally use all their senses to satiate the need for knowing. Given free reign they know what cockroaches taste like, how custard feels between their toes, the smell of cat breath. All these crazy and often gross things that babies do build new pathways.

After they have pulled all the books from the bottom two shelves of the bookcase for the third time, we often get exasperated. The natural response to their learning about gravity is to hand them ‘Talking Tom Cat’ on your iPhone while you go about restacking. But here is where things get sticky. Firstly, only 3 of the 5 primary senses are stimulated, vision, hearing and touch, but the range of sensory stimulation is very narrow. Talking Tom Cat only makes a few noises, bub only focuses on a small screen close to their face and touch is only the glass screen. Now compare that to the experience of crawling on grass. The smell of the grass and the slightly damp earth beneath, the sounds of birds and insects, maybe mums voice. Looking at things close up, like an ant crawling along a leaf, things far away like clouds and trees. The different textures. There is a massive sensory difference.

Games on phones are pieces of computer code, they have finite rules with little to no leeway of altering outcomes by thinking outside the box. You are basically lead by the rules to finish where the programmer sends you. Alternatively give a kid some sticks, rope a ball and a good tree and a thousand games could blossom out of it all with different endings. One creates highways out of working within set rules, the other stimulates the ability to problem solve, be creative and inventive.

Movement is life

Did you know 90% of your brains energy is obtained through movement of the spine? Without movement the brain is undernourished and under energised. Now let’s look at this in relation to a baby who’s brain is supposed to triple in size by the time they are 2. If a baby is kept entertained with a phone, how much is their level of movement diminished and therefore how much is their brain being robbed of vital energy during this stage of rapid growth.

 EMF’s (ElectroMagnetic Fields) and the infant brain.

The body of evidence on the dangers of EMF’s is growing every day. Even people like Dr Charlie Teo, a high profile neurosurgeon has considerable concerns about EMFs and the effect they have on the brain, particularly for young children.  Under the age of 25 we go through a process called myelinisation. It is similar to putting insulation around an electrical cable, it helps to keep the electrical impulses in the brain firing the right way as well as stopping interfering pulses coming in. In small children, where not much myelisation has occurred, EMF’s are likely to cause much more damage to cells as they don’t have that protective layer.  The most common area for this to effect is the pineal gland and their “internal clock” (Ah, who needs sleep anyway!). Disrupting a sleep is not only frustrating for parents, but also lowers immunity, disrupts growth and healing, and inhibits cognitive growth. As we can all attest, lack of sleep leads to being grumpy, irritable and stops us from being able to concentrate.

How you want to use this information is going to depend on your own family circumstances, but at least knowing it gives you the choice to make different decisions. Whether it is no devices for under 5 years or restriction on time limits/time of day or self regulation. Good luck!

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