Mobile Phones and Children

I came through an article where the British prime minister himself declaring that he will ban Mobile phones across schools in England. This article provides interesting data points which states that more than 97% of the children are using Mobile phones in Schools.

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Some key reasons for this highlighted includes the online safety of the children as well as the loss of productivity of children who are addicted to the mobile phones. I can well relate to this as a father of a teenage son , as a user as well as from a technology perspective. I think even though the UK prime minister is voicing of his concern about Children , this is a global issue. Myself and my partner has to make many efforts to keep the kids away from the mobile phones. I personally see this as a side effect of Covid era – which forced us to give them the devices to access the online classes.

Another reason is how these devices and the online platforms are engineered. As you would have read across many forums , Mobile phone operating systems and social media platforms are designed to maximize the time people would use it. The designers would have designed keeping the adult audience in mind. However it works like a charm on the children as well.

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For instance – the Swipe which is used by many applications including Youtube Shorts to Tiktok to dating apps such as Tinder is a really simply gesture which does not take any effort like scrolling or clicking. The recommendation engines of these apps are extremely powerful and they invite us to delve in more interesting content which gets us in to a dopamine surge.

Interestingly Dopamine is the hormone responsible for addiction which would induce children to look for more and more content. I think there is a bigger social issue – this addiction is not only restricted to Children – even adults are getting caught in to the trap of Phone and Social media usage. These addictions are now clinically recognized.

How can we get around this issue for Children as well as adults ? Well , we can take the approach of Rishi Sunak – we can implement laws and may be come up with technical solutions such as Mobile Device Management which can restrict the usage of apps. I have seen another approach where they have created minimalist phones and launchers which does not contribute to this dopamine inducing UI UX.

However I personally believe that the best way to get out of this lies within us – by self discipline. I can recall how MTI Consulting , one of my previous work places had a policy to check the emails and we had designated intervals to check the email. The email notifications were disabled and this allowed us to do focused work.

What do you think ?

phone #productivity #SocialMedia

Author: Sadeepa Palliyaguru, VS ONE WORLD

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