The alchemy of mobile phone technology continues to captivate, especially because of the world of possibilities it brings to our lives.
Sadly, it also brings unintended dangers, especially to children. Many parents use phones as the perfect baby-pacifying toys. Oblivious of lurking dangers, children cherish phones.
Babies are attracted by the phones because of their flashy lights and alluring programmes.
Babies become quickly adept at operating phones way before they can say “ba-ba” or “ma-ma”.
When excited or irritated, they innocently attempt to chew or suck the phones, too young to tell the filth that they put in their mouths.
Here are three of many reasons why it’s an awful idea to use a phone to entertain a baby.
One, phones are a cesspool of germs. They are among the most germs-laced items you have ever owned.
Laboratory tests have confirmed that a public toilet seat is as messy as your phone. The phone collects legions of germs from everywhere we go, including from the most unsanitary places.
We hold the phones with sweaty, wet or oily hands, creating a haven for germs to flourish. Germs harbour warm conditions and your phone provides a conductive environment.
If germs could talk, they would thank us so effusively for giving them a haven on which to multiply.
Unfortunately, the same germs-laced phones are the same ones that many parents give to their children to play with as toys.
As it is natural for babies, they put the phone in their mouth, effectively facilitating the process of ingesting germs, including the most ominous ones.
Two, mobile phones emit potentially harmful radiation which is particularly dangerous to children.
Although data on this topic are conflicting, links between radiation and cancer have been observed.
The brain tissues of children are vulnerable and more absorbent, their skulls are thinner, and their relative size is smaller, making them susceptible to harmful phone-emitted radiation.
Conclusive data or not, no parent would want their children to be a case study to confirm the relationship between phones and cancer. It’s better to err on the side of caution.
Three, the phrase “sleeping like a baby” is becoming a rarity. When babies stare at the seemingly innocuous screens for hours, they suffer sleeplessness, a condition that can lead to impaired cognitive development. In other words, their normal intellectual growth is hampered.
So what to do? Consider it a good reason to impose a digital curfew on your children before bedtime, even if they manipulate you with short-lived tantrums. Sanitise your phones regularly to reduce contamination.
Dissuade your friends and family from appeasing your baby with their not-so-clean phones.
Phones and tablet computers are teeming with germs. Regular hand-washing with soapy water before handling a baby can reduce episodes of phone-ferried germs that weaken a baby’s health.
Mr Wambugu is an informatician. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @samwambugu2