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Screen scare Child development expert reveals six-month-old babies are being handed their first smart devices

'We really need to be just very mindful about how we are introducing screens to our children and at what age'

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Child development expert Olwyn Moran has warned of the dangers of screen time for kids as she revealed how six-month-old babies are being handed their first devices to play with.

The Cognikids founder revealed how screen time, which has jumped massively over the pandemic, can have a big impact on children’s brain development.

On Newstalk Breakfast this morning she said there was “plenty of study and research” that is identifying how children as young as six months of age now are a getting their own screened device.

“The earlier a child has access to a screened device really does impact on brain development because, if you think about it, the brain really isn’t actually fully developed until about 19 or 20-years-of-age,” Ms Moran stated.

“So, the younger a child actually starts to use and interact with a screened device is definitely going to impact on the way the brain is developed and wired.”

Ms Moran who set up Cognikids that produces award-winning patented products to support infant development, has also appeared on the Virgin Media show Eating with the Enemy where she defends the importance of monitoring screen time for children.

She pointed out how some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley keep their children away from screens as much as possible.

“If you look at the big wigs in Silicon Valley who now have their children, they have put banket bans in the house on their child using any screens or are sending their children to non-tech schools,” she said.

“We really need to be just very mindful about how we are introducing screens to our children and at what age.”

Ms Moran said her own children are not allowed phones until they are 16-years-old, a decision she took, “knowing the impact on their development and the social, emotional and cognitive impact really.”

Baby Doc Club parenting expert Laura Erskine said most children are given a smartphone as a “coming-of-age thing” when they start secondary school.

“That is, most parents feel, the longest they can hold out in the current environment,” she said.

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“Lots of schools have actually engaged in a parent pact whereby parents are signing up, in around Junior Infants or First Class, to actually not giving in to their children in terms of actually giving them a device – so children can’t come home and claim they are the only child in class who doesn’t have one.

“That is in order to protect children for as long as possible from the dangers of having the internet in their pocket.”

According to Ms Erskine, parents should establish rules early on regarding what age their children are allowed to own a phone and when they do, the devices should be totally banned at night and in the bedroom.

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