How dangerous is the smartphone for children? On the impact of smartphone use on children's health

Textbook, 2019

64 Pages


Table of contents


List of abbreviations

1 Introduction
1.1 Context of origin, personal motivation
1.2 Brief overview media
1.3 History Smartphone
1.4 Problem statement

2 Questions and hypothesis formation
2.1 Media
2.2 Hazard potential
2.3 Socio-demographics
2.4 Other
2.5 Hypothesis formation

3 State of research
3.1 Study situation

4 National Studies
4.1 2014 – miniKIM - Study
4.2 2015 – Digital Milieu Study DIVSI - U9
4.3 2016 – FIM - Study
4.4 2017 – BLIKK - Study
4.5 Conclusion of the national studies

5 International Studies
5.1 Patterns of mobile device use by care-givers and children during meals in fast food restaurants
5.2 Maternal mobile device use during a structured parent-child interaction task
5.3 Exposure and Use of Mobile Media Devices by Young Children
5.4 Influence of smartphone addiction proneness of young children on problematic behaviors and emotional intelligence: Mediating self-assessment effects of parents using smartphones
5.5 Parent Perspectives on Their Mobile Technology Use: The Excitement and Exhaustion of Parenting While Connected
5.6 Mothers' views of their preschool child's screen-viewing behavior: a qualitative study
5.7 The Relation Between Use of Mobile Electronic Devices and Bedtime Resistance, Sleep Duration, and Daytime Sleepiness Among Preschoolers
5.8 Touchscreen generation: childrenâs current media use, parental supervision methods and attitudes towards contemporary media
5.9 Parent Perceptions of Mobile Device Use Among Preschool-Aged Children in Rural Head Start Centers
5.10 Electronic Media Exposure and Use among Toddlers
5.11 Childrenâs Environmental Health in the Digital Era: Understanding Early Screen Exposure as a Preventable Risk Factor for Obesity and Sleep Disorders.
5.12 Conclusion of the international studies

6 Tabular comparison of the studies

7 Hypothesis matching

8 Results with regard to preventive services and measures

9 Conclusion
9.1 Discussion
9.2 View



For preschoolers, smartphones have arrived in daily use. This paper shows the results of 15 recent national and international studies on media use and smartphone use and its impact on the child. The use behavior and possible health effects and consequences for the child are in the foreground of this work. The results show both nationally and internationally that the smartphone has found its place in families and children as an indispensable tool in everyday life. The use of the devices increases even before the age of three. Especially the usage behavior of the parents has the greatest influence on a possible developmental disorder of the children. The cross-sectional studies show that health effects, such as language and behavioral disorders, as well as addictive behavior and hyperactivity but also a changed leisure and communication be-havior, are the consequences.

List of abbreviations

APP Application software

BZgA Federal Centre for Health Education

BMI Body Mass Index

CAPI Computer Assisted Personal Interview

CEO Chief Executive Officer

DSM-5 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – 5th Edition

FIM Family, Interaction & Media

Iot Internet of Things

JIM Youth, Information, Media

KIM Childhood, Interaction, Media

WHO World Health Organization

1 Introduction

In this bachelor thesis, the current study situations on the subject of smartphone use in childhood are to be analyzed and worked out. To what extent do current studies assess the risk to infants and children of kindergarten and preschool age. In particular, the media use of smartphones by children and parents and their influence on the development of children will be considered.

The digital world is progressing more and more and is finding its way into almost all areas of human life. While the digital achievements were initially ridiculed and labeled as a marginal topic of technology-savvy people, it should have become clear at the latest after the appearance of the first mobile devices with An Internet connection that a new social change has emerged. There are only a few areas of life left that are not permeated by the digital world. Future developments show that even analog things, such as everyday objects, devices and machines, can be used in the Internet of Things (IoT). Some scientists are already talking about the development of humans from Homo sapiens to "Homo Digitalis" and thus describe the possible future symbiosis of humans with digital technology. (Montag, 2018).

The impact on people's health still seems to be a marginal topic of scientific research. After all, the youth word of the year 2015, "Smombie", already gives an indication of a possible health hazard. The term, a fusion of "smartphone" and "zombie", shows that young people have self-reflectively found a term for a smartphone owner who is so distracted by intensive smartphone use that he no longer perceives his environment. The first "smombie traffic lights", ground traffic lights, have already been introduced in Augsburg and other cities to protect pedestrians from trams at level crossings and stops (Tost, 2016). The risk of accidents due to smartphone use at the wheel was also recognized by the legislator and included in the catalogue of fines (gomobile media GmbH, 2018). This small insight into everyday life shows that the first direct risks and dangers in dealing with smartphones are known. But what other influences on health can be explored scientifically?

While until a few years ago the main focus in terms of media use was still on television, the influence of the smartphone is still largely unknown. The meeting of a child's living environment with the digital world begins earlier and earlier. Social change brings with it complete accessibility around the clock. The Internet is no longer stationary tied to a device, but can be taken anywhere. The demand for digital desecation of small children seems impossible: "The Internet is already gaining a relevant everyday meaning for young children. Even the smallest are occasionally online; internet use is rapidly intensifying from now on." (Deutsches Institut für Vertrauen und Sicherheit im Internet, 2015, S. 16). The Federal Ministry of Health (2017, S. 1) points out: "This presence means that children are surrounded by electronic media from the first day of life."

"Growing up healthy" is a national health goal of the Federal Ministry of Health (2017). Health promotion and prevention in childhood is becoming increasingly important, as this is where the course for life is set. Therefore, it is important to keep an eye on early influences that influence the children and their development. The three core areas of this health goal are: Life skills, exercise and nutrition. A detailed look at these goals also describes the "reduction of burdens / stressful influences for children, adolescents and families" (Gesellschaft für Versicherungswissenschaft und -gestaltung e. V., 2010).

This bachelor thesis will focus the analysis on smartphone use, examine the effects on the development of children, especially in the age differentiation of 0 to 6 years, and make a risk assessment based on the current national and international studies to what extent effects on the health of children can already be determined.

1.1 Context of origin, personal motivation

In May 2017, the Federal Government's Drug Commissioner published the first results of the project "BLIKK Media" (coping, learning behaviour, intelligence, competence and communication), a commissioned study on the use of digital media in families and the possible effects on the development of children. (Bundesministerium für Gesundheit, 2017). Sensitized by the birth of my daughter in February 2017 and the subsequent own experiences in dealing with digital media in the presence of my daughter, but also in the general handling of digital technologies, I read the study short report. Questions quickly arisen about possible health influences and dangers that could affect my daughter, but also my own person and how these can be prevented. The interplay between parental care obligations and the consumption and use of content on the smartphone are unmistakable in everyday life. Especially on playgrounds, it becomes clear that even toddlers get into the sphere of influence of smartphones when parents, grandparents, but also caregivers of daycare centers use their smartphones and temporarily distract attention from the children. Your own reflex to pull the smartphone out of your pocket even in inappropriate situations already seems to be automated. The question arises to what extent this can already be classified as addictive behavior. But also fundamental questions represent a personal motivation for the object of investigation. How do I deal with the topic myself, what is the right way and what dangers are present in dealing with digital media and children?

The success of smartphones can only be seen in the increasing number of users. The Bundesverband Informationswirtschaft, Telekommunikation und neue Medien e.V. - BitKom estimates the number of smartphone users at around 57 million Germans based on its own survey from February 2017 (Ametsreiter, 2017). This corresponds to around 78% of Germans who regularly use a smartphone. Compared to 2013, it was still 41%. Current study data show that german families have one hundred percent coverage of mobile phones or smartphones. "Virtually all households with children between the age of three and 19 have at least one mobile phone (conventional mobile phone or smartphone), Internet access, a TV and a radio" (Feierabend, Plankenhorn, & Rathgeb, 2017, S. 50).

The figures once again illustrate the social but also health relevance of the topic. The question quickly arises as to whether health risks can be expected from the use of smartphones and whether possible consequences have already been scientifically researched. What effects can be expected from the use of smartphones on the physiology of children? There are effects on psychological processes and smartphone use changes the social and communicative abilities of humans. And above all: Which of these effects interferes with the healthy development of children in infancy and preschool age? At what point can we speak of "too much" of digital media? In July 2017, the Drug Commissioner of the Federal Government published the current Drug and Addiction Report of the Federal Government, where the topic of computer game and Internet addiction was also reported as increasing among young people. (Bundesministerium für Gesundheit, 2017).

1.2 Brief overview media

The analysis of media use in childhood requires knowledge of existing media that are used and consumed by children on a daily basis. When we generally speak of "media", there is no clear demarcation to a particular medium. Books, photos and magazines also fall under the general concept of media. In principle, however, analog and digital media can be distinguished. Television in particular has undergon a technological change in recent years: from analogue television signals to digital television and television sets with a wide variety of functions and applications, such as Internet access, saving TV programmes for time-shifted playback. When talking about media use in childhood, it will be briefly shown at this point which media are available in German family households in which children grow up between the ages of two and five. The data of the study miniKIM from the year 2014 of the Media Pedagogical Research Association Southwest (Feirabend, Plankenhorn, & Rathgeb, 2015, S. 5) show the percentage distribution of existing device types.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure Appliance equipment in the household 2014 (Feierabend, Plankenhorn, & Rathgeb, 2015, S. 5)

Already in this study the importance of the medium of television becomes clear. Screen media, which primarily provide audio-visual content and also provide access to the Internet, are of particular importance.

"The TV is often – from a (reception) technical point of view – also digital. Not only Internet-enabled smart TVs, but also "terrestrial television" (DVB-T) are digitally working technologies. However, since televisions are often used "analogue", i.e. are not connected to the Internet, even if this would be technically possible, but is only used to watch the linear program of the TV stations, television does not fall within the scope of digital media. Nevertheless, in selected contexts, television – due to its pronounced importance in the media landscape of children – is also included in the consideration." (Deutsches Institut für Vertrauen und Sicherheit im Internet, 2015, S. 12).

In 2014, television use is already stated as the third most common leisure activity at the age of 4 to 5 years. In addition to "playing indoors" and "playing outside", television consumption seems to be very pronounced even at a young age. (Feirabend, Plankenhorn, & Rathgeb, 2015). The smartphone combines the elements in the form of the screen, the Internet, the control of the device via the screen and the location-independent availability through the given mobility of the pocket format. With regard to the dynamics of distribution, mobility and Internet availability, a transfer of the medium of television to the smartphone and the associated effects should be considered.

Another aspect should also be mentioned here: Many studies from the past do not consider the medium of the mobile phone (colloquially referred to as "mobile phone") and the smartphone separately from each other. The main difference is mainly the Internet capability and the high-resolution screen of the smartphone.

The media usage data are presented in the chapter 3.1 once again intensively considered. For the time being, it should be mentioned here that the "greatest dynamics of change compared to the first survey of the miniKIM study from 2012 on the subject of smartphones (+17%) and tablet PC (+8%) is evident in the rate of household equipment" (Feirabend, Plankenhorn, & Rathgeb, 2015, S. 5).

The dynamics of change towards the medium of smartphones in the following years show the presence and importance of smartphone use among the population. From the BLIKK study of the year 2017 it can be ferred that "the smartphone in relation to the other media in the everyday life of the respondents today is 'indispensable'" (Bundesministerium für Gesundheit, 2017, S. 35).

The forecasts for the coming years show a slight stagnation of the distribution. This can be interpreted as a consequence of market saturation. According to zenith Mobile Advertising Forecast, around 66% of people worldwide own a smartphone. In 2017 it was 63%, in 2016 around 58%. According to current estimates, around 81% in Germany own a smartphone. The world leader in distribution is the Western European region and especially Asia-Pacific. Taiwan leads the way with 93% smartphone penetration. The country with the currently highest number of smartphone users will be China with around 1.3 billion users in 2018. (Schobelt, 2017).

1.3 History Smartphone

The omnipresence of the smartphone is based on a recent success story. It began about ten years ago on January 9, 2007 in San Francisco in the USA. The date can easily be counted as a high point of the digital revolution. On that day, Steve Jobs, longtime CEO of Apple Inc., introduced an all-new device:

"Well today, weâre introducing THREE revolutionary new products. The first one is a widescreen iPod with touch controls. The second is a revolutionary new mobile phone. And the third is a breakthrough internet communications device. To iPod, a phone, to internet mobile communicator. An iPod, a phone, an internet mobile communicator these are NOT three separate devices! And we are calling it iPhone" (Ryan, 2007).

This new pocket-sized technology, easy to use by children due to a simple and intuitive user interface, was presented to the public after two and a half years of development. It combines the functions of mobile telephony of the proven concept of the "mobile phone", the functionalities of a computer, the operation directly via the screen via touch gestures and allows access to the Internet without restriction in functionality. In addition, so-called APPs (application software), programs with specific functionalities, can be installed. Furthermore, in 2008, Apple Inc. also made it possible for other non-company developers to develop programs and offer them to the public in the so-called App Store, its own digital marketplace. (Quiller Media Inc, 2008).

It is thanks to the functionality, the acceptance in the population, but also an enormous marketing, that the success of the smartphone continues to this day. In addition, it should be mentioned that a year later the first competing models came onto the market. These include companies such as Google and Samsung. The success of the smartphone can be emphasized most clearly by the worldwide number of users. Current estimates put the world at over 2 billion users worldwide. (Statista GmbH, 2017). This number supports the anchoring of the smartphone in society. The distribution of the devices is distributed over the entire social structure and is not limited to individual target groups and social classes.

Steve Jobs himself, however, did not let his children participate in the devices, as a published interview with him shows: "They havenât used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home" (Doug, 2016).

1.4 Problem statement

In the everyday life of families, media, and especially digital media, are a matter of course. Televisions, computers, game consoles, but also mobile location-independent devices, such as the smartphone, have found their way into the "family" setting. Childhood in particular is a phase of life "in which a person undergoes the most serious anatomical, physiological and behavioral developments" (Erhart, Ottová-Jordan, & Ravens-Sieberer, 2014, S. 59).

Furthermore, many health-relevant influencing factors already form in this early stage of life, which remain relatively stable in the course of a person's life. Especially in the context of socialization, basic behavioral patterns are acquired from the parents, but also from other caregivers. These acquired patterns may still have an impact on the health of those affected decades later. This includes "behavioral patterns regarding hygiene, nutrition, but also physical activity and patterns in dealing with one's own body and health" (Erhart, Ottová-Jordan, & Ravens-Sieberer, 2014).

Due to the great importance of childhood, the effects of a medium that is present at all times, such as the smartphone, on the health of the child and its role in healthy development are to be evaluated in particular. Due to the 1.3 Scientific research is still in its infancy.

Are smartphones a health hazard for children? The fact that smartphones have already been recognized as a source of danger in everyday use cannot go unmentioned. For example, smartphones and mobile devices are banned in hospitals, use during take-offs and landings of aircraft is prohibited, and use when driving a car is punishable by administrative penalties due to the risk of distraction. Despite known dangers, 55% of all drivers regularly use their mobile phones at the wheel, according to a Forsa survey commissioned by the expert organisation DEKRA (DEKRA e.V., 2017).

This raises the question of whether the dangers can be attributed directly to the device itself or whether a hazard, for example by distraction, is indirectly caused by the use. Direct hazards, such as radiation hazards emanating from the device, have not yet been conclusively assessed. On the subject of "electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones", the WHO declares that the electromagnetic fields are classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as potentially carcinogenic to humans. "The electromagnetic fields produced by mobile phones are classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as possibly carcinogenic to humans. Studies are ongoing to more fully assess potential long-term effects of mobile phone use" (World Health Organisation, 2014).

The fact that children come into contact with smartphones as early as possible also depends on the behavior of the caregivers, for example on the parents in the circle room, who take the first pictures and videos of the newborn with the smartphone and publish the photos with a social media service provider. A digital prohibition of screen media, as demanded by the Federal Centre for Health Education for dealing with media (Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung, 2015), must be examined for their suitability for everyday use and possibly re-evaluated.

The information in the chapter 1.2 the smartphone penetration of 93% in Taiwan also has legal consequences there. The Taiwanese government already adapted the existing Youth Protection Act in 2015 and, in addition to smoking and drug use, banned the disproportionate use of screen media under the age of 18 and obliged parents to pay fines for disregard and health hazards of the child. (Hwai, 2015).

Different models of the effect of health-relevant influencing factors on the life course of children indicate how early onset chronic diseases can influence the health situation for a lifetime. Two models are described. The model of "accumulation of risks" means that harmful influences in early years and harmful influences from later stages of life can add up to an increased risk of disease. The model of "critical periods" postulates certain time windows and development phases in which there is a vulnerability to damaging influencing factors. For example, the younger the person is, the more harmful substance abuse is." (Erhart, Ottová-Jordan, & Ravens-Sieberer, 2014, S. 59).

It is worth noting that the DSM-5, the psychiatric classification system of the American Psychiatric Association, has formed a new category for substance-free abuse: "Substance-related and addictive disorders", in which "gambling disorder" is no longer assigned to impulse control disorders as the first behavioral addiction, but to addiction disorders (Bundesministerium für Gesundheit, 2017, S. 11).

The core question and problem is therefore to determine possible answers to the question of the interdependencies and effects of smartphone use on the health of children in order to define effective prevention offers and recommendations.

2 Questions and hypothesis formation

Based on these problems, the following questions and hypotheses were defined, which are to be developed and answered in this bachelor thesis.

2.1 Media

The use of media in childhood and in the setting of families and in the setting of kindergartens determines the question of media use in general and in comparison to smartphones.

- How high is the media use of the smartphone in general and in the specific age cohort of zero to six years in Germany, in percentage terms compared to: Television, Internet (computer) and other relevant media?
- Which current national studies can provide answers on media use?

2.2 Hazard potential

Which hazard potentials can emanate from the smartphone, and which have already been scientifically investigated? In contrast to general statements, scientific-empirical results will be presented that have investigated an anatomical, physiological and behavioral hazard.

2.3 Socio-demographics

Can certain age groups and lifestyles of families and children who are exposed to a particular risk situation be evaluated from the objects of investigation and statements of the risk can be made on the basis of the study situation on the following criteria:

- Which age groups are particularly at risk?
- What effects does social status provide?
- Are there gender differences?

2.4 Other

What other effects and hazard potentials may be provided by studies that have not yet been considered for a hazard? And can a statement on the general risk situation from smartphone use be formulated at the current time?

- Can research results from other nations be transferred to Germany?
- Will media use, and in particular smartphone use, become relevant for prevention services?
- Can strengths and opportunities be described within the studies?
- What is the attitude of parents to smartphone use?

2.5 Hypothesis formation

Based on the research questions, the following preliminary hypothesis can be formed: The use of smartphones in the living environment of children aged zero – six years represents a threat to the development of the child, especially in socially disadvantaged environments.

3 State of research

With regard to the young history of the smartphone, it can be assumed in relation to the current state of research that this is a very new field of research. To make matters worse, no long-term studies over several decades can exist (release date of the first smartphone on 09.01.2007, see chapter 1.3). Thus, mainly cross-sectional studies have to be analyzed.

Overlapping research approaches that already deal with some topics of the health impact of digital media, such as the Internet and its addictive potential, can only be partially used. "According to the current state of scientific research, the newly researched disorders in the field of computer game and Internet use are attributed to substance-free addictions (behavioral addictions)" (Bundesministerium für Gesundheit, 2017, S. 62). On the proximity of the two concepts of "Internet" and "Smartphone" to each other, it should be mentioned that some experts assume a 25% overlap of published studies (Montag, 2018).

The addiction to computer games is currently regarded by many experts as the biggest problem of digital addictions. This is particularly highlighted by the fact that the WHO will include "Gaming Disorder" in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) in its next edition. This will apply as a category for video games, both offline and online-based games. This classification will also become mandatory for German doctors from mid-2018 and offers those affected a recognized diagnosis and treatment requirements (Die Drogenbeauftragte der Bundesregierung, 2016). WHO justifies the inclusion with verifiable and available evidence, the consensus of many participating experts from different disciplines from different geographical regions of the WHO in the context of ICD-11 development. "A decision on inclusion of gaming disorder in ICD-11 is based on reviews of available evidence and reflects a consensus of experts from different disciplines and geographical regions that were involved in the process of technical consultations undertaken by WHO in the process of ICD-11 development" (World Health Organisation, 2018).

At the national level, this is manifested by the BZgA-supported statement, "In 2015, according to the findings of the BZgA Drug Affinity Study, 5.8% of all 12- to 17-year-old adolescents are expected to be addicted to computer games or the Internet. Female adolescents aged 12 to 17 are statistically significantly more affected than male adolescents in this age group (4.5%)" at 7.1%" (Federal Ministry of Health, 2017, p. 63).

On the basis of the available research on the focus of health hazards for children up to preschool age, only very few study papers can currently be used. Nevertheless, a division between German and international studies is to be made at this point. These are sorted below according to topicality.

3.1 Study situation

The following section shows the national study situation on the topic "Smartphone and health aspects in childhood between zero and six years". In particular, the available international study results will then be discussed and their results presented in detail. During the study research in an international context, the publication platform was used and researched the study situation with appropriate detailed search (National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2018).

The following points can be described before the study analysis.

- There are a conspicuous number of scientific studies on smartphone applications. Studies are predominantly usage analyses of certain smartphone applications in specific contexts of health applications
- There are conspicuously few studies on health and danger in childhood and especially in the toddler area.
- Thematically appropriate studies are only available from the period 2014.

The following results show the studies at the national level.

4 National Studies

The national study situation on the topic of smartphone use and possible resulting health risks in early childhood in children under the age of 6 seems to be still in its infancy at the national level. However, long-term studies on the media use of infants, children and adolescents are already being planned and the foundations for a comparability of study cohorts are being prepared. Particularly noteworthy is the Medienpädagogische Forschungsverbund Südwest (mpfs) with its studies on the media behaviour and benefits of young people in Germany, which began in 1998. However, the research results of the DIVSI and BLIKK studies also provide a concrete scientific view of the situation in Germany. The research results are presented in order of publication.

4.1 2014 – miniKIM - Study

The national study analysis on the object of investigation of smartphone use in childhood is to be started at this point with a study by the Media Pedagogical Research Association Southwest (mpfs).

As mentioned at the beginning of this work, a media-free childhood is hardly imaginable anymore. In addition, the topic of "media and toddlers" is controversially discussed. In order to gain an insight into the everyday life of small children in connection with the everyday media life in families, the Medienpädagogische Forschungsverbund Südwest (mpfs) expanded the study series KIM (Children + Media, Computers + Internet) in 2012 to include a survey of the main educators of 2- to 5-year-olds and described it as a miniKIM study. The study thus examines the media use of 2- to 5-year-old children. For this purpose, in the survey period from 9 May to 20 June 2014, 623 main educators of 2- to 5-year-old children, quoted according to currently available structural data of the Federal Statistical Office for households with children of this age, were interviewed by means of a self-filling questionnaire. These results are representative of the -2 to 5-year-olds in Germany. The main educators are mainly mothers. The gender distribution was around 50% for boys and girls. The age group 2 to 3 year olds and 4 to 5 year olds was also divided into 50% (Feirabend, Plankenhorn, & Rathgeb, 2015).

The study shows that in 2014, a very wide range of existing media existed in households where 2- to 5-year-olds grow up. "In almost all families there is (at least) a TV, a computer or laptop as well as a mobile phone or smartphone" (Feierabend, Plankenhorn, & Rathgeb, 2015, S. 5). Based on the first survey from 2012, the biggest changes in smartphone devices (increase of 17%) and tablet PCs (8% increase) clear. In the children's rooms, mainly cassette recorders and CD players are available. Children at this age rarely own their own devices (Feirabend, Plankenhorn, & Rathgeb, 2015).

In addition to playing indoors and outdoors, the most frequently mentioned activity in the everyday life of children, television already follows in 3rd place of the most frequently used activity. Other activities related to media are of relatively little importance in daily use in the age group. However, the differentiated consideration of the age groups shows that media activity increases significantly from the age of 4. Figure 2 shows: With regard to mobile phone/smartphone use, which has a rather subordinate role in the frequency of use, a clear increase from 5% to 12% can be observed in a comparison of the age groups 2 to 3 year olds and 4 to 5 year olds. (Feirabend, Plankenhorn, & Rathgeb, 2015).

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure Activities in everyday life 2014 (Feierabend, Plankenhorn, & Rathgeb, 2015, S. 8)

With regard to the children's favorite activities, where up to three mentions could be made, play continued to dominate. For 4- to 5-year-olds, meeting friends, watching TV, playing sports, as well as playing computer/console/online games is also better than younger children. Mobile phone/smartphone use plays a subordinate role here, as Figure 3 shows. (Feirabend, Plankenhorn, & Rathgeb, 2015).

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure Favourite activities 2014 (Feierabend, Plankenhorn, & Rathgeb, 2015, S. 9)

The usage time of the most diverse media was also considered. Again, the preference for television becomes clear, with around 43 minutes per day. Reading books and listening to the radio takes the 2nd and 3rd longest time, with 26 minutes and 18 minutes respectively. The use of games on computers/consoles/Internet, mobile games, tablet games and internet use in general – according to the main educators, are not yet used at all by the majority of children (Feirabend, Plankenhorn, & Rathgeb, 2015).

Furthermore, the study also asked to what extent the media are more likely to be used alone or with someone else. When using mobile phone/smartphone or tablet games as well as the Internet, sharing with parents predominates (Feirabend, Plankenhorn, & Rathgeb, 2015).

The importance of television for children of kindergarten and preschool age is drastically illustrated in the question of media retention and the information on the duration of use. The majority of children can no longer do without television from the age of four (Feirabend, Plankenhorn, & Rathgeb, 2015).

According to the study, computers and the Internet, on the other hand, play a very subordinate role in the everyday life of 2- to 5-year-olds. "With 85%, the clear majority has not yet gained any experience with the computer." (Feirabend, Plankenhorn, & Rathgeb, 2015, S. 21) The Internet is also underrepresented in terms of user experience and frequency. Only 7% of all children have had any experiences at all, 5% use the Internet regularly. When they first used the Internet, the children were on average 3.8 years old (Feirabend, Plankenhorn, & Rathgeb, 2015).

The main educators see the topic of "media and children" as a rather subordinate subject area. However, the formal educational qualification shows a certain influence on the distribution of interests and prioritization. The higher the level of education of the main educators, the more interesting the topic of "children and media education" becomes. 41% of lower secondary school teachers with a lower secondary school leaving certificate, 51% with a secondary school leaving certificate and 61% with a high school diploma rate the topic as (very) interesting (Feirabend, Plankenhorn, & Rathgeb, 2015).

The opinion of the main educators on certain media shows that books in particular have a positive image, while computer use and the Internet are associated with negative characteristics. With books fantasy, learning content and school success are associated, the Internet receives the associations of violence, unsuitable content and the "squatting" by too long computer use in the apartment. In contrast, two out of five respondents associated the computer with school success. (Feirabend, Plankenhorn, & Rathgeb, 2015).

On average, 76% of children are in a care facility during the day. The media equipment of this facility, which children can use, shows that media such as CD and cassette recorders (75% availability) and DVD players (38% availability) clearly predominate. Computers and internet equipment are underrepresented with 13% and 7% availability, respectively, but have increased a bit in the last two years (Feirabend, Plankenhorn, & Rathgeb, 2015).

Against the background of the role model function of the main educators, their computer use was also surveyed. All main educators (99%) showed that they at least rarely use the Internet at home or at work. Three out of five Internet users are logged in to a community like Facebook, of which 41% have posted information about their child, such as photos of the child, as well as videos in which the child can be seen (Feirabend, Plankenhorn, & Rathgeb, 2015).

4.2 2015 – Digital Milieu Study DIVSI - U9

If a hazard analysis on the subject of smartphone use is to be carried out, the first priority is to analyse who uses the smartphone medium in Germany and how often. With almost 100 percent coverage of the population, it is no longer possible to differentiate according to socio-demographic factors such as age, gender, income or similar. Rather, the social milieus in which the users live and act play an extremely larger and distinguishable possibility of differentiation. Social milieus reflect attitudes towards certain topics and behaviours.


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How dangerous is the smartphone for children? On the impact of smartphone use on children's health
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smartphone, international studies, national studies, health, childrens health, media
Quote paper
Henry Rygiel (Author), 2019, How dangerous is the smartphone for children? On the impact of smartphone use on children's health, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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