Almost a quarter of children and young people in Germany use TikTok, Instagram or WhatsApp “riskily”.

There are 1.3 million boys and girls among 10 to 17 year olds - three times as many as in the pre-Corona year of 2019. This is the result of a current study by the health insurance company DAK and the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf.

According to the study, 360,000 children and young people are already addicted to social media.

You lose control of the channels and use them too long and too often.

They meet less with friends and family or leave their homework behind.

Anyone who uses social media too much is risking their physical or mental health, the study says.

A primary school principal from Hohentengen, in the Sigmaringen district, put it this way: "Children become lonely, fat and stupid."

There has been a long-standing debate about whether and when parents should buy smartphones for their children.

But the dilemma begins much earlier and somewhere else: as soon as children get a smartwatch, the gateway to digital hell is open.

Children can use the watches to call someone or be located.

This is of course great for parents because they can always keep track of where their children are.

But now even elementary school children are given smartwatches, which are brought to and picked up from school every day, and which are driven to soccer training or music lessons.

They are beyond attainable.

Does it have to be that way?

The classmates see the watches on each other's wrists.

Word quickly gets around who already has one of these watches and their own child quickly wants one too.

Responsible parents should resist the temptation to fulfill this wish.

The things are already beeping in class and stealing the children's attention because they haven't been put into flight mode.

The envy of it is already growing, and their own children already want a watch like this so they can play games with it or take photos.

And: What comes after the smartwatch?

The smartphone!

There is probably already a tablet in the house.

Parents should be strict here and delay buying smartwatches and smartphones as long as possible.

Parents spend too much time on their cell phones.

France banned smartphones in schools six years ago.

The Netherlands, England and New Zealand want to follow suit.

The reasons are clear: attention and concentration are disrupted by the devices, children are tempted to take and distribute embarrassing photos and to bully others via chats.

You may come across violent videos, porn, or extremist propaganda.

They no longer play with each other, but hang out together in front of the screen.

Primary school children in particular do not need a smartwatch, tablet or smartphone.

However, the devices should not be banned completely in Germany.

Bans could only make the desire for such devices more urgent.

But: The rules of use must be clearly negotiated at school and at home.

Parents have a duty to teach their children how to use digital devices sensibly.

You need to know what the kids are watching and what they are interested in - but also limit screen time.

Everything else will take its toll later, as the study proves.