Memory problems for kids who use cellphones

Child using cellphone
Child using cellphone
In the recent Kids Nation Survey 2014, the results revealed that 23% of South Africa's children have cellphones and tablets.

Educational psychologist, Catherine Radloff had this to say on the effect of children using cellphones from a young age: "One of the biggest problems about having ready access to technology is that children are not developing their memory capacity. Even something as simple as the fact that most kids no longer need to remember things such as telephone numbers has weakened their short-term memory skills. This translates to serious difficulties with reading and mathematics."

Short-term memory

Radloff's comment on the degradation of short term memory is something that we can all see in ourselves, even as adults. Suddenly remembering phone numbers or addresses is not important and unnecessary when you can just store them in your phone. Simple things like a short shopping list is now saved as a note on my smartphone and I'll definitely use the calculator while I shop to make sure I don't go over budget.

The human brain seems to have transferred some of it's power over to the device we all have in our pockets or handbags.

Is it a bad thing? To some extent, yes.

While short-term memory may not be developing as it should, there's also the danger of using the Internet as a means of learning new things. Yes, Google is a wonderful creation that opens up a world of knowledge your child may otherwise not have had access to, but don't be fooled. We all know that not everything you read on the Internet is true. That means your child could be "learning" incorrect information or worse, learning about topics that you'd rather talk to them about in person, like sex.

Limit technology

While there's no point in depriving your children completely of technology, keeping track of the amount of time spent on cellphones and tablets is crucial. Radloff also had this to add to her previous comment: “It needs to be noted that technology is not all bad and can actually benefit children on a social and educational level. However, responsible use is key.”

Learn about the dangers your kids may face before letting them explore the Internet. Know the signs that could point to more serious issues such as bullying or sexual grooming. And above all else, talk to your children about what they might encounter and encourage them to talk to you if they have any questions or fears.

More about kids and technology

Should your 8-year-old have a cellphone?

Cellphones age-by-age

Is your child’s cellphone a secret weapon?

Think about parental controls

Is your teen internet safety savvy?

Do your kids have cellphones or tablets?

Click here to see the full results of the 2014 Parent24 Kids Nation Survey.
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