'Parents’ excessive use of technology affects children'

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Parents, who spend more time online while staying at home as part of measures against the coronavirus, set a bad example for their children, experts warned on Friday.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Betül Ulukol, head of the Society for Child and Information Safety, said both parents and children significantly raised their use of technology as they spend more time at home to curb the spread of the virus known as COVID-19.

Parents get into chat rooms and spend much more time on social media than before, Ulukol stressed, adding that some also hold their meetings online.

She warned families not to neglect their children when they were busy with work or online, and advised families to control their children's online habits as well.

Referring to some recent research, she said while some studies suggest that computer or online games boost children's imagination, others claim that excessive use of tablets and smartphones could limit the perception of children.

Mehmet Teber, a clinical psychologist and pedagogue, stressed that some children started to spend more time in playing online games during their stay-at-home time amid pandemic.

"Online games no longer serve as entertainment material, but a way of life. Children may over-identify with game characters, and lose their sense of being," Teber said.

If a child identifies himself with a character in a game, he/she should give it up, and avoid playing games for a month, he suggested.

Violent video games impact children's psychology, he noted, giving some tips to parents to protect their children from becoming addicted to such games.

"As a first step, don't let your children play games on your phone. Secondly, don't buy smartphones and tablets to your children at their early ages," he said, advising families to limit gaming time to two hours a day.

The World Health Organization (WHO) included gaming disorder on its list of behavioral disorders and mental health conditions in 2018.

Gaming disorder is defined as "increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities," according to the WHO.

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