Around 32 per cent of parents surveyed said their children suffered from vision issues due to overuse of electronic devices. Image Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Dubai: Nine out of 10 parents polled in Sharjah said they do not want to give smart devices to their children aged six and below as excessive use of these devices negatively impacts children’s health and behaviour.

The preliminary findings of a study conducted by the Health Promotion Department at Sharjah’s Supreme Council of Family Affairs, which surveyed more than 1,000 mothers and fathers in Sharjah, revealed that a big majority of parents have seen the negative impacts of smart devices on their children.

Some 87 per cent of the respondents believe that excessive use of smart devices negatively affects their children’s health. Another 77 per cent said new technology led to the emergence of behavioural and social disorders in their children.

The Health Promotion Department revealed the results of the study during its educational seminar on Wednesday at the University Hospital Sharjah in an awareness campaign titled “A Moment ... Towards a Healthy Life”.

The seminar aimed to educate the community about the dangers of the excessive use of technological devices and their negative impact on their health. The campaign lasts a full month and includes many events, including an online awareness campaign on all social networking sites.

Iman Rashid Saif, Director of the Health Promotion Department, said the use of technological devices, especially smartphones and laptops, has become prevalent in society, hence underscoring the need for educational campaigns against excessive screen time.

“This awareness campaign is aimed at focusing on the dangers of overusing these devices, and its effects not just on physical health, but also on mental health, social life, and all other aspects of life,” Saif said.

Negative impact

Some 32 per cent of the parents surveyed confirmed that their children suffered from vision problems due to excessive use of electronic devices. Some 13 per cent said their children suffered from decreased concentration, and another 9 per cent said it contributed to their children’s being obese and overweight.

Parents were not exempt, however. Some 16 per cent said that they also developed pain or vision problems that they attributed to the excessive use of devices while 15 per cent reported back and joint pain.

Three out of 10 respondents or (31 per cent) preferred social media networking sites as a means of raising awareness about this issue. The study will continue on until it is completed, after which the final results will be announced.

The campaign will include an awareness-raising campaign on social networking sites, radio interviews with specialists, as well as the publication of various awareness issues in various media outlets. The campaign will be supervised by a group of doctors and specialists to ensure the achievement of it’s objectives.