The Financial Express

Mobile Apps and our children

Mobile Apps and  our children

The whole world is in our hands now. Most of the problems are solved by smart phone in the palm of our hand. This smart phone is being used to complete all the daily tasks as well as some tasks in advance. So the smart phone has to offer much more service than before. The screen size has also increased from 3.50 inches to 7.00 inches to accommodate the services and they have become quite well known as tablets and phablets. The number of apps is therefore increasing rapidly. The total number of mobile applications on the planet is now 8.93 million. This is unbelievable but true. Many people think that the apps seem to be limited to the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. But the reality is completely different. China Apps stores named Apkgk, Apkpureco and Androidappsapk have occupied the top three positions. This unheard of Chinese app store has surpassed Google Play Store and Apple App Store in terms of the number of apps. These top three app stores combined has 3.4 million apps whereas Google Play and Apple App store combined has 1.18 million apps. Not only the number of apps, but also the number of apps downloaded and the cost behind downloading these apps is amazing.

Gaming apps are the most popular category in the Google play store and Apple apps store, Education and business apps are ranked second and third respectably in Google play app category. Business and Education apps are ranked second and third respectably in Apple apps category.

The media regulator of UK, Ofcom (Office of Communications) tried to find out the children's habits of using media and device in 2019 and some surprising information came out. One of them is 50 per cent of the UK's 10-year-olds owned a smartphone, 78 per cent of 8-11 years old children watch video on demand or subscription services.

73 per cent of children aged 5-7 years watch videos on demand or subscription services whereas 78 per cent of children aged 8-11 have this tendency. The tendency to stay online through social media is very high among children in UK. 71 per cent of children aged 12-15 years have a social media profile. The tendency for playing online games of UK children starts from childhood. 3-4 year and 5-7 year old children spend 4 hours 42 minutes and 6 hours 18 minutes for playing online games per week respectably. That is why different countries of the world have banned mobile phones at primary and secondary school level. Mobile phones have been banned at the school level in China and several states in Australia. France has banned the use of smart phones in school for all children aged 3-15 in their country. In Greece, school students are prohibited from using their smartphones while they are at school and in Iran, there is a law suspending school children for 3-7 days if they enter school with a smart phone. A survey conducted in UK last year found that just under half of UK parents thought that schools should ban mobile phones. No matter how old we are, we are becoming dependent on smart phones and certain apps.

A 2012 study by Leslie A. Parlow, a professor at Harvard Business School, revealed some information. 56 per cent check their phones before going to bed and 70 per cent check their phones after getting up in the morning. 51 per cent of  respondents constantly check their phones during vacation. So it turns out that not only children, but also adults are leaning on some interesting apps.

TikTok is an app that is now on everyone's lips. TikTok is the most downloaded app worldwide as well as in USA. In the USA, 10-19 year olds use this app the most. In 2020, TikTok was downloaded 850 million times. WhatsApp takes second place by 600 million installs, followed by the Facebook app with 540 million installs, Instagram with 503 million, Zoom with  540 million and Messenger with 404 million installs. Last year, Indian government banned nearly 60 Chinese mobile apps including TikTok.

We spend a lot of time with social media related mobile apps. Children also spend time at home and at school with games related apps. So children are not giving as much study time as they need for mental development. So parents should take children away from smart phone dependence from childhood. That's why the World Health Organisation (WHO) has developed guidelines on how children's lifestyles should be. This guideline may not be needed if parents try to raise their children through proper guidelines.

The WHO provided guidelines about active lifestyle, sleep and screen time for children under 5 years of age in 2019.

So as new technology comes, so will the variety of new technologies. But considering the good aspects, we will adopt the technology. We need to increase our reliance on technology by understanding the necessities of technology. We need to educate ourselves as well as our children about technology. Therefore, proper guidance on the use of technology from the parents is crucial for children.

Source : WHO, Ofcom, Harvard Business Review, forbes, BBC News,The New York Times (Asia Pacific),Statista.

Rafiqul Islam is the Deputy Managing Director of Shimanto Bank  and A. S. M. Ahsan Habib, Principal  Officer of Uttara Bank Ltd.

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