Smartphones are addictive and injurious to children’s mental health

Smartphones are addictive and injurious to children’s mental health
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Are smartphones injurious to children’s mental health? In this post, let us have a look at what experts and studies reveal.

Although invented with the aim of making life easier and convenient, the increasing use of smartphones and the internet by school-going children and teenagers is slowly exposing them to less important and more addictive things like cyber bullying and online pornography, mental health experts have warned.

Reports suggest that an increasing number of teenagers are being trapped into the deadly Internet game Blue Whale Challenge. A Google Trends report of the past 12 months shows a sharp spike in the number of searches related to the Blue Whale Challenge in India.

“Smartphones are addictive in nature and the Internet can be misused for games such as Blue Whale Challenge, pornography, etc,” says Deepti Kukreja, Consultant Psychiatrist, Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital.

How Blue Whale Challenge affects children’s  mental health

children's mental health

The recent death of the 17-year-old teenager, Satvik Pandey, who killed himself by jumping in front of a running train in Damoh in Madhya Pradesh, has been linked to the Blue Whale Challenge. According to some friends of Pandey, he was “quite absorbed in the Blue Whale game for the past few days”. A CCTV camera installed at a house near the railway tracks recorded the episode.

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Read: What is Blue Whale Challenge

“The terror of Blue Whale has been a wake-up call for all the parents and teachers. We as modern and educated adults need to monitor, educate and sensitize children to the judicious use of smartphones in order to avoid negative experiences,” psychiatrist Mrinmay Das from Jaypee Hospital, Noida, told IANS.

So widespread has been the impact of the Blue Whale Challenge that Fortis Healthcare recently launched a 24×7 helpline to provide psychological support to teenagers getting trapped in the macabre online game. The helpline — 8376804102 — is available for anyone who is directly undergoing undue mental stress and anxiety as a participant in the challenge.

This deadly game operates on the basis of a one-on-one interaction between the curator and the player with the use of certain ‘code’ hashtags to find each other.

Other effects of smartphones on children

children's mental health

Smartphones not only affects children’s mental health but also has a great impact on their lives.

“The use of smartphones distracts children not only from studies but also from extra-curricular activities such as sports, cultural activities,” Kukreja said.

“It eats into the normal social interaction that young children should have and limits their social and emotional development,” she added.

The other cons of mobile phones being used by schoolchildren may also lead to problems such as lower academic performance, fear of missing out, weak eyesight, disturbed sleep cycle, headaches and fatigue.

Taking note of the ill effects of smartphone use, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) in August issued an 18-point guideline for the safe and effective use of the internet and digital technologies in schools and school buses.

Schools need to promote a safe and secure educational environment for effective teaching and learning and to discourage students from actions detrimental to themselves, their peers and the value system, the CBSE stated.

“Not only Blue Whale Challenge but numerous other internet and mobile phone games develop a sense of fierce competition, frustration and addiction among school children,” psychologist Bhavna Barmi of Fortis ESCORTS Heart Institute in New Delhi pointed out.

Barmi even advocated banning mobile phone use by schoolgoing children. Such a measure, according to her, would help them better concentrate on academics, develop self-control and intrinsic will power.

“It will foster better interpersonal development among students and will act as a preventive measure against full-blown Internet or smartphone addiction,” Barmi added.

What can parents do?

It is important for parents to place themselves in the shoes of their children to understand their perspective better, and after forming the appropriate rapport, engage in effective guidance and vigilance about the usage of mobile phones.

Those parents who feel that they may need mobile phones to contact their children during emergencies, should keep in mind that the school authorities generally provide the contact services in case of any emergency or absence from the school.

“Supporting them by talking to them, spending more time with them, making them understand the pros and cons can help kids to develop a better understanding about smartphone usage,” psychiatrist Manish Jain of BLK Super Speciality Hospital in New Delhi said.

Also Read: World Mental Health Day: 6 Awesome Reasons Why You need One

Inputs from IANS

Comments (31)

  • Hi Sonal, Great info shared. I listen regarding blue whale game but not able to understand how someone can convince the person for suicide. I heard they are doing some kind of hepatize and the player listening to their instructions.
    Mobiles ultra violet rays also very harmful for children. It is better to keep away from small children and educate all about this game. This game is banned in India.

  • Thank you that is a good article for addictive and injurious to children’s mental health.

  • Hey Sonal
    It’s really nice done , and i know smartphones addictive for children ,
    but i want to know which phone you suggest me for 12 years child ?
    em waiting your reply

    • Author

      Well Alice I would suggest that you should encourage children to play outdoors rather than on smartphones. Playing outside will also keep them healthy and energetic.

  • Hi Sonal,

    I agree smartphones are very injurious to children; when we were kids, we used to play outside, but now most kids spend enormous time using mobile phones! Games like Blue Whale Challenge literally killed many kids.

    • Author

      Absolutely Adithya! Children nowadays don’t want to go outside and play. They are just stuck with their smartphones. And this is really sad!

  • Hi Sonal,

    I’d never heard of the Blue Whale game and had to look it up. Sounds truly horrendous.

    I feel very strongly that children are being exposed to smartphones far too young and that the effects are overwhelmingly negative, for all the reasons you mention. Sadly no-one wants my opinions.

    Joy Healey – Blogging After Dark

    • Author

      Hi Joy

      Yes these days you can see very young children playing with smartphones. They do not like to play outdoors.

      Thanks for writing in

      Have a nice day!

  • Yes true!

    Now a days its common that every children are playing with smartphones and they are injurious to mental health.

    I think we should probably avoid it!

  • I completely agree but also there is the new problem called ‘text neck’ which is sweeping teenagers too. Another health problem caused by phones, but I think I had ‘bookworm neck’ when I was younger so not so different, just looking at a different medium caused it!

    Enjoy the journey!

  • Hey Sonal! I have never heard of this Blue Whale Challenge before, but do know that this smart phone thing has gotten out of control! not only for children but adults as well.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Chery :))

    • Author

      Hi Chery

      This game has led to many suicides. I hope people get aware about it.

      Thanks for writing in!

  • I don’t have children but I still find this a very interesting topic Sonal. I know this may shock some people – but I don’t own a smartphone – gasp! I watch people walking around staring at their phones and just shake my head. I get the convenience factor, especially with the endless variety of apps, but I’d rather pay attention to what’s happening around me and actually make eye contact with people. Man, I’m suddenly feeling my age. 🙂

    • Author

      Well Marquita, we all are so used to smartphones that we cannot imagine our lives without them. But at the same time parents need to keep a check over children’s use of their smartphones.

      Thanks for writing in!

  • Hmm Sonal you are absolutely right. I think this game makes people affected with anxiety disorder

  • Like with all in life, it’s all about balance. Technology and information are important, and kids need to get used to it, but they have to know what they can and cannot do and where are the limits. Of course, parents need to supervise what their kids do.

    • Author

      Yes Jarvee, parents need to supervise and teach balance to their children. They need to be aware of the limits of smartphones.

      Thanks for visiting and sharing your feedback!

  • Thanks for posting this, I have not heard of the blue whale. We make an effort to limit the time on the phone, but you never know.

  • Hi, Sonal,
    You are right that mobiles are changing the lives of the cildren. I have seen incidents regarding the Blue whale game. Parents should either take care of them properly or should not provide their children with mobiles.

  • Right!
    young children are not ready to go outside to play outdoor games and make themselves physically active.Whole time they like to spend on smartphone and play games like blue whale games and try to kill themselves.As well as smartphone are harmful for eyes and human body and it is not hazardous only for children it is harmful for young generation who are addicted to it.
    Thanks for sharing,waiting for more such articals

  • I worry about this a lot as I have teenagers and they live on their phones it seems

  • I guess a debatable topic,

    Although I agree with all your points made about smartphones injurious to children’s health but sometimes we need to give them mobile phones for entertainment or learning purposes.


    • Author

      Hi Laura

      I agree with you that sometimes you need to give smartphones to children for learning. But at the same time you need to keep a watch over them and limit the use.

      Thanks for sharing your views.

      Have a nice day!

Comments are closed.