There is a television commercial that shows the birthing of a baby that knows his mind right from the time he is born. He cuts off the umbilical cord (ouch!), gets into the baby suit, grabs the nurses Smartphone, takes a selfie and makes his way out of the nursing home! On the grounds of creative license, the commercial might have exaggerated things a bit, but the point is the Smartphone generation of babies is here. They are going to get their hands on the parent’s Smartphone much before the parents can get used to the idea of parenthood!
The reality is that someone has already built an app that allows babies to take a selfie. The developer was a new dad and wanted to play with the app development software one boring weekend. He insists that it is meant for fun as it engages both parents and introduces babies to screen fun.
Be that as it may, experts say that in US, children between 3-5 years spend more than 7 hours with media and digital devices. Now we can start doing research on screen time for 6 months olds! User friendly apps have made life on the technology device so easy. Tap, swipe, tap, swipe, that’s all you have to do. Mom is too busy to play…well, a digital story is just a tap and swipe away!
While this might appear very amusing on the face of it, is it a healthy trend and is technology taking hazardous liberties?
The question most parents would want to ask, when should I let my baby play with my Smartphone? Child development experts say that the growth of the brain is in progress up to the age of five. This happens through first-hand experience of nature or human interaction or physically exploring and playing with toys. When the brain development is not complete and all-round, it impacts the emotional, social and cognitive aspects. Babies have to touch feel and taste everything to get a 360 degree grasp on something or someone. With a digital device, the touch and feel experience is missing so also the real life experience.
So when a baby (who has yet not developed an idea of the self) takes a selfie because he has just imitated his parent doing the same thing, does he understand what he has done? Obviously not! It is like putting the cart before the horse. Before you know it the cart will be over the horse. Mental maturity takes place before physical maturity so we will have these tiny tots who know a lot – not quite normal.
In fact, there is also some research to show that physical growth is hampered when a child spends long hours with a handheld device. The neck curve takes a hit may be deformed in some manner. This in turn will affect the growth of the spine and the functions it performs. The spine sends millions of neural messages to lower parts of the body and if it doesn’t develop right, the consequences can be disturbing.
But there is something about technology that is irresistible. Can you blame ordinary mortals for going crazy with selfies when world leaders and wannabe PMs are taking selfies at public functions? Behavioral experts say the selfie rage is another manifestation of a self-obsessed society. It’s up to new parents to choose whether they want their baby to say I, me, myself before he can say mama, dada!