Surge in the use of digital technologies amid coronavirus restrictions have induced changes in children’s behavior and parent-child relationship, according to a Turkish expert.

“Staying away from school, teachers and friends for some time caused emotional discomfort, adaptation and behavior problems in many school going children,” Sengul Mertol Ilgar, an associate professor at the Istanbul University, told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.

“Spending a lot of time in front of the screen interrupted their cognitive, emotional, social and psychomotor development.”

Claiming that many children now have decreased attention span, the professor, who has experience in teaching and research on pre-school education, and behavior management, said the disruption also caused changes in both their mental and physical wellbeing with a relatively high incidence of headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, and allergies.

“They used the Internet and technological devices more than the usual,” she said, which caused sleep-wake disorders, nutritional deficiencies, and weak eyesight.

Youngsters are often exposed to messages and visuals on the web that may not be appropriate and could cause fear and anxiety, Ilgar explained.

Besides drastic mood changes, extreme irritability in children during the “new normal”, she said, changes in parent-child relationship were also observed.

Many parents did not know how to engage their young, and instead relied on technology.

Others, however, turned this into an opportunity and formed stronger bonds with their dear ones.

Touching on distance education, the professor said it is important to keep the children away from screens as much as possible as it could affect their development due to limited motor skills.

“Through games, children develop mentally, emotionally, and socially as well as physically,” she said, adding that they learn values such as sharing and helping each when they interact face-to-face.

She, however, advised parents to impart online education as a complement or reinforcement as it cannot be completely ignored.

*Writing by Sena Guler in Ankara

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