Gadget-addicted children could contract pseudo-autism: Childhood specialist

KUALA LUMPUR: Allowing children between the ages of one and six to play with gadgets, such as smartphones without any supervision, can make them vulnerable to mental disorders and so-called 'Pseudo-Autism'.

Early Childhood Education specialist, Dr Putri Afzan Maria Zulkifli said 'Pseudo-Autism' was similar to Autism, meaning children lacking in social skills and seeming to live in their own world.

She said this could be the result, if children spent too much time playing with gadgets and watching television.

"Age one to six is a critical time in the development of children's neurons, but when there is a lack of physical activity and interaction, it impedes the growth of their brain which should grow up to 90% during the period," she told Bernama after appearing as a guest on the Nine11 programme broadcast on Bernama News Channel, here today.

She said neurons which are not fully developed or utilised would die, thus creating various complications for the children involved.

Dr Putri Afzan Maria said that apart from 'Pseudo-Autism', other complications which could occur included a failure to think sanely, having no creative thinking, being unable to interact and speak well, besides impeding the development of emotions and intellect.

"In a worst case scenario, it will put these children into a situation where they are unable to control their feelings or stress, causing depression," she added.

Hence, she advised parents to control their children's use of gadgets while helping them carry out other activities which were more appropriate for their age to stimulate the development of neurons, including emotional and intellectual development.

"Parents can still allow their children to use gadgets, but only for up to one hour per day for children aged one to three, and a maximum of two hours per day for those aged four to seven," she added. — Bernama