Children "touch the net" at a younger age, how to deal with it scientifically

Investigation on the current status and intervention of mobile terminal use in preschool children

Editor's note

As the "natives" of the mobile Internet era, many preschool children (3-6 years old) have early contact, use or own mobile terminals such as mobile phones, tablet computers, and children's watches, and while enjoying pleasure and convenience, they are also facing problems such as vision loss, network dependence and bad information erosion. At present, what is the current status of the use of mobile terminals such as mobile phones for preschool children in China? Are parents in place to manage and intervene in their children's use of mobile terminals? In this regard, the reporter of Guangming Daily and relevant experts jointly carried out a sample survey of preschool children's families in 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities across the country, and collected a total of 25020,<> valid questionnaires; In addition, interviews were conducted with preschool children and parents in Beijing, Zhejiang, Chongqing and other places to gain an in-depth understanding of the current use of preschool children's mobile terminals and parents' hidden worries, and put forward scientific countermeasures and suggestions to deal with this problem on this basis.

1. Current situation: Preschool children "touch the net" showing a trend of younger age

A childish finger skillfully crossed an arc on the mobile phone screen, a short video flashed, a pair of childlike eyes stared at the colorful picture, and the child in front of the screen is still a 3-year-old child in kindergarten...

With the development of the Internet in China and the popularization of mobile terminals, such scenes increasingly appear in the families of preschool children.

"My daughter is 4 years old, and every time she takes her mobile phone to swipe short videos and play games, she plays for two hours. When I tried to take my phone down, she cried and refused. "Beijing citizen Wang Li is very distressed, and hopes that there is some way to get her daughter to put down her mobile phone...

Tablets and mobile phones play early and can't put them down, which has become a common trouble for many families of preschoolers. According to the survey, the use of mobile terminals among preschool children presents the following characteristics:

"Touching the net" shows a clear trend of younger age. According to the survey, 70.4% of preschool children have begun to contact and actively use mobile devices such as mobile phones. Among the seventy percent of preschool children who have used mobile terminals, the earliest contact time with mobile terminals is concentrated at the age of 3, accounting for 34.53%; 4.21% of those who started to contact and use it at the age of 13.

In addition, a large proportion of children who "touch the Internet" already have their own exclusive devices. Among them, the highest ownership rate is for tablets (18.7%), followed by children's watches (18.25%), again mobile phones (14.39%), and 4.77% for other devices.

A mother talked about her 5-year-old son's process of meeting the "playmate" of the mobile phone: the child's first long-distance crawl was from one corner of the big bed to another diagonal, and what attracted him was a mobile phone playing a children's song video; When he can sit on the baby chair and eat by himself, the short video in the mobile phone has become a super helper for the old people to feed the baby, and the little fat hand is sliding the screen faster and faster. Growing up in such an environment, children are very familiar with mobile phones from an early age, and it is natural to use them.

Watching animations and brushing short videos are the main requirements. According to the survey, preschool children use mobile phones and other mobile devices to participate in a variety of activities. Among the children who have "touched the Internet", 68.47% will use mobile phones and other mobile terminals to watch cartoons, ranking first; Closely behind, 41.18% of children will use mobile phones and other mobile terminals to swipe short videos; Again taking photos and videos (25.7%). In addition, online classes (19.54%), handicrafts (18.84%), and games (17.6%) are also important contents for children to use mobile terminals. It can be seen that mobile terminals such as mobile phones provide convenience for the entertainment life of preschool children.

At a playground in Beijing, reporters saw a boy scrolling through short videos with his mobile phone. Twenty minutes passed, and the boy's eyes were still glued to the phone screen. When asked by parents about the age of their children, he said: "The child is more than 20 years old, he is in kindergarten, and he usually has to look at his mobile phone when he catches it, and he can't stop looking at it. Speaking of this, parents looked helpless.

The duration of use of mobile terminals is generally controllable. In interviews, many parents talked about the problem of their children using mobile phones for too long. From the data point of view, among the children who have "touched the net", the total daily use of various mobile terminals can be controlled within 30 minutes accounted for 59.31%, 30~60 minutes accounted for 30.79%, and more than 60 minutes accounted for 9.9%. In the survey of single use duration, 40.68% of the children controlled the single use time within 15 minutes, 42.45% of the single use time was 15~30 minutes, and 16.86% of the single use time was more than 30 minutes. More than half of the children can stop using the mobile terminal immediately at the time agreed with their parents, nearly 1% of the children can stop using it most of the time, and only 81.<>% of the children are basically unable to do so.

In terms of managing children's use of mobile terminals such as mobile phones, many parents reported that they can take mobile phones out of their children's hands by relying on "both hard and soft". For example, when watching cartoons, first tell your child how many episodes you can watch, how long, set rules, and once the time is up, no matter how much the child cries, do not compromise. Talk to the elderly at home and act consistently. After a few times, the child will do it even if he pouts, and then it becomes a habit and does not cry.

2. Causes: Changes in the child's growth environment and insufficient high-quality companionship of parents

The development of the mobile Internet has brought great changes to the environment in which children grow up. The latest data shows that the size of China's Internet users has reached 10.67 billion, and the Internet penetration rate has reached 75.6%, of which the size of mobile Internet users is 10.65 billion, and the proportion of Internet users using mobile phones to access the Internet is 99.8%. At present, the application of mobile Internet and mobile terminals has penetrated into almost all aspects of our lives. In such an environment, it is difficult for preschool children from birth to avoid passive or active contact with mobile devices such as mobile phones.

"In the past, the old people unscrewed the radio to listen to stories to their children, turned on the TV to play cartoons for their children, but now they can be replaced by mobile phones and tablets." Zong Chunshan, an expert at the Children's Work Think Tank of the State Council Working Committee on Women and Children, said. Compared with traditional media such as books, newspapers, and television, mobile terminals can provide children with strong stimulation of sound, light, and movies, and all kinds of resources are convenient and accessible, whether it is children's song music, cartoons or early education classes. In addition, the operation is simple to start and the adaptation scenarios are rich, which naturally becomes an important tool for family parenting.

Parents lack quality companionship in the early years of a child's development. According to the survey, 12.6% of parents often take the initiative to use mobile phones to "accompany" their children, 68.75% of parents occasionally use mobile phones to "accompany" their children, and only 18.66% of parents never use mobile phones to "accompany" their children; More than 30% of parents let their children browse their phones. In addition, 43.<>% of parents choose to let their children fall asleep with mobile phones and other mobile terminals, instead of traditional parents telling stories to coax them to sleep.

Many parents are busy with work and are accustomed to using mobile phones instead of their children to "accompany" their children, and over time, children lack high-quality companionship, lack of family affection and communication, and become more and more dependent on electronic devices. This alternative "companionship" essentially hinders the child's physical and mental development.

Zong Chunshan said: "There is a very important point in the international community: it is very important for children to cultivate early attachment relationships with their parents. A good attachment relationship, the first can give the child a sense of security, the second will stimulate the development of the child's brain nerves, and the third will also cultivate the child's sociality. And using mobile phones to "replace companionship" is not conducive to the cultivation of attachment relationships.

Family members lack scientific management of children's use of mobile terminals such as mobile phones. "Children start using mobile phones at the age of 3. At the beginning, adults took the initiative to play with children, in order to coax children, but also to make some time for parents, this play could not be stopped, and soon became the child's initiative to find mobile phones and ask for mobile phones. "Many parents do not insist on managing the intensity of use in the initial stage of their children's contact with mobile terminals such as mobile phones, resulting in bad habits for their children.

In addition, many parents and elders have obvious differences on the management scale of children's behaviors such as mobile phone use. For example, some parents feel that after half an hour of play, it is time to stop, but the elderly often love their grandchildren and think that "it's okay to play for a while." In the process of parents trying to persuade their children to hand over their mobile phones, the elderly in the family often intervene to obstruct them, and even quarrel between the two sides. "Every time at this time, children must insist on playing enough." One parent said.

3. Trouble: Premature "touching the net" affects children's physical and mental health in multiple dimensions

According to the survey, parents have many concerns about preschoolers using mobile devices such as mobile phones.

Worry about affecting vision. According to the survey, 91.09% of parents are worried that their children's vision will be affected by their children's premature contact with mobile terminals such as mobile phones. During the interview, a parent told reporters: "The child is now 4 and a half years old, going outdoors for two hours a day, but during the physical examination, he was told that the farsighted reserve was gone. In addition to being shocked, the parent recalled the reason that may cause the child's vision to decline, that is, the elderly at home often play with the child's mobile phone, and there is no strict control over the child's short videos and cartoons. This is not unique among preschool children. According to data released by the National Health Commission in 2021, the myopia rate of 2020-year-old children in various places exceeded 6% in 9, reaching a maximum of 19.1%; Among 6-year-olds in kindergarten, 1.5% are highly myopic.

Fear of falling into network dependence. In the survey, 62.09% of parents expressed concern that their children's use of mobile terminals may lead to network dependence. In interviews, many parents reported that their children always play with their mobile phones. "You have to play before eating, and adults don't pay attention to it, so they secretly take their mobile phones to brush short videos, play games, and even ask to play when they go to the toilet." Experts said that in the face of children's excessive reliance on mobile phones, if parents lack scientific guidance, blindly criticize, accuse or even blunt obstruction, it is easy to intensify parent-child conflicts, resulting in the deterioration of parent-child relationships, which is counterproductive.

Exposure to abusive information. In the survey, 42.02% of parents expressed concern that their children were exposed to bad information. A grandfather of a 5-year-old child told reporters that he was "caught off guard" when he was scrolling a short video with his child: "Once, I showed my grandson a short video of an off-road vehicle climbing a steep hill, the length of more than a minute, and when the vehicle approached the top of the slope, the onlookers in the video burst into foul language. It made me break out in a cold sweat. "In addition, many children use adults' mobile phones when browsing short videos, and it is inevitable that some content that is not suitable for children to watch when the algorithm recommends video content will inevitably appear, which is not conducive to children's mental health."

Decreased concentration. Survey data shows that 34.47% of parents are worried that their children's long-term use of electronic devices will lead to decreased concentration. "The video and animation stimulation on the mobile phone is very strong, fast to change, rich in color, and accompanied by the rhythm of music, children who have received such stimulation for a long time, when they wait for elementary school, and then face the teacher's teaching in the classroom, it is not easy to enter the classroom learning state." Just like a person who is accustomed to eating a lot of food with a lot of added and heavy taste, it is much more difficult for him to adapt to light and healthy food. Zong Chunshan said.

4. Solution: In the Internet era, guide children to live in harmony with electronic devices

"The 21st century is the age of the Internet and technology, and all children living in this era are the 'natives' of the Internet age, and they face challenges from birth - to use these network devices well, but also to be able to maintain an independent self in the jungle of the Internet, and not lose their way." Huang Yiqing, associate professor of the College of Preschool Education of Capital Normal University, said.

Parents should further raise awareness and implement the Family Education Promotion Law. Lu Shizhen, a professor at the China Youth University of Political Science, said: "The Family Education Promotion Law has elevated the traditional 'family affair' of child-rearing from a legal level to a 'national affair', which requires every family to study and implement it carefully. Scientific understanding and effective handling of children's use of mobile terminals such as mobile phones involves some basic principles of family education. Parents should establish a sense of responsibility as 'their child's first teacher', assume the main responsibility of implementing family education for minors, and continuously raise awareness and strengthen learning. The scientific family education concepts provided in the Family Education Promotion Law can provide parents with references, such as the principles of 'respect the personal dignity of minors, protect minors' privacy and personal information, and protect the legitimate rights and interests of minors' and specific methods such as 'teaching by camera, edutainment in daily life', "subtle, combining words and deeds". "Parents should take the initiative to learn scientific parenting knowledge, improve family education ability, and reasonably arrange the time for preschool children to exercise, rest, study and play." In reasonable use, let children scientifically understand the pros and cons of mobile terminals. Parents should set an example and avoid excessive use of mobile phones, tablets, etc. at home. When choosing extracurricular interest courses for children, more on-site learning is used to reduce reliance on online use.

Parents should spend more time with their children, lead them to get close to nature, and reduce their dependence on mobile terminals. Try to take a certain amount of time to get along with your child every day, listen to your child's inner words, and accompany him to read and play. Take advantage of the rest time, take the children out of the house, integrate into the natural landscape while running and playing, and soak up the sunshine and grow up healthily. Design a variety of children's games to allow children to experience more beautiful, happy and real life scenes, so as to offset the excessive fascination with mobile phones and virtual worlds.

Treat mobile terminals scientifically, combining "controlled use" with "reasonable use". On the one hand, parents should not let preschool children use mobile phones and other mobile terminals, but also avoid rough methods. It is not recommended that parents completely cut off their children's contact with mobile terminals such as mobile phones through forced robbery and physical shielding. Through communication, consultation and guidance, we should establish a "rule of use agreement" with the child to exercise the good habit of abiding by the contract and self-discipline from an early age. On the other hand, cartoons, games, short videos and other content in mobile terminals can become the grasp and assistant of parents to carry out moral, intellectual, physical, aesthetic and labor education, rather than opponents and opponents. Parents should consciously learn relevant knowledge and put it into practice in combination with the specific conditions of the family and children.

Preschool children's use of mobile devices such as mobile phones can be managed from two key points: time and content. Time refers to the total use time per day and the duration of each use, and it is recommended that the total duration be controlled within 15~30 minutes, and the single time duration is within 5~15 minutes. Content, that is, content that children usually watch and participate in on mobile phones, such as cartoons, short videos, online lessons, etc. Among them, cartoons are recommended to be viewed on TV or projector, which is more conducive to vision protection; The viewing of short videos should grasp the "one limit, one for one watch and one listening": one limit, limited to a single duration; One supply, take the initiative to provide scientific and healthy content; Look at it often, and often check what your child is watching; As soon as you listen, listen to your child talk about the short videos and other content he has watched. In this way, children can establish the concept of time limit, and parents also have a deep understanding of the content of their children's use of mobile terminals.

As one of the main educational subjects of preschool children, kindergartens should be scientifically guided. On the one hand, through games, courses, and activities, help children scientifically understand mobile phones and other mobile terminals. In kindergarten teaching, it is necessary to consciously reduce the intensity of screen use and reduce the use of mobile phones for various homework. On the other hand, through parent-teacher meetings, parent salons, parent case consultation and guidance, etc., guide parents to deal with the relationship between children and mobile phones, follow the principle of "controllable but not terrible, open and not laissez-faire", and help parents and children solve problems together according to the scientific principles of children's development and development.

As a habitat for family life, the community should provide support for family education. Communities should give full play to the advantages of proximity, regularity, familiarity, diversity, etc., and carry out a variety of neighborhood thematic research, community forum sharing, parent-child scenario games and other activities, forming a good atmosphere for parents to accompany their children more and children to get along healthily with mobile phones. For the special difficulties in the education of preschool children from individual families, the community should give appropriate and necessary assistance and intervention in accordance with the principle of child protection.

At the social level, mass organizations should provide guarantees for family education, and early education institutions should actively fulfill their social responsibilities. Education, health, women's federations, work committees and other departments should invest sufficient strength, attach great importance to the phenomenon and trend of preschool children's use of mobile terminals, pay attention to investigation and research, and help parents update their concepts and improve their abilities. All sectors of society should look at the use of mobile phones by preschool children scientifically, objectively and comprehensively, avoid comprehensive denial, and do not replace the overall situation of society with extreme cases, but should be rigorously analyzed and scientifically demonstrated. Market regulators should strengthen effective supervision, urge manufacturers and operators of all kinds of early education and preschool education products to earnestly fulfill their social responsibilities, and cannot produce and sell electronic products that are not conducive to the physical and mental health of preschool children just for profit.

(The questionnaire design, distribution and data analysis of this survey were jointly completed by Zhu Xu, visiting professor of the School of Humanities, Peking Union Medical College, and Tang Qianer, a reporter of this newspaper) (Guangming Daily reporter Tang Qier)