An increasing number of pupils and young students are using the computer overnight, going to bed late and consequently feeling sleepy during classes, stifling yawns and struggling to keep their eyes open, especially in the morning, according to the findings of child development experts.
They spend hours playing and talking to their classmates or friends online. Some of them do not eat properly, deprive themselves of sleep or avoid going to the bathroom while they are in front of a computer, says Carlos Filipe, psychiatrist and clinical director of the Support Centre for Children Development (CADIn).
These children often miss classes in the morning.
Carlos Filipe urges parents to make them sit at the table and eat meals.
Sometimes parents are forced to disconnect the computer and that is when some children react aggressively. This is a serious issue that has to be taken into consideration.
Others cannot live without their mobile phone, spending almost the whole day text messaging their friends, surfing on the internet, on social networks or playing games.
Parents must also be aware of what kind of websites their children tend to visit or what kind of programmes they regularly watch on television.
Parents should set the best example because youngsters tend to adopt and follow the parents’ habits.
He also emphasises that the internet can be “extremely attractive and seductive” but parents and teachers need to know it well in order to guide and teach children and teenagers on how to use it wisely.
Carlos Filipe adds that there are other appealing and healthier activities such as reading, talking, going to the cinema or theatre, or playing sports, and these activities should be part of the family vocabulary.
Clinical psychologist Rosário Carmona e Costa, of CADIn, explains that learning disabilities, anxiety, sleep and social problems are usually linked with the excessive use of the internet, social networking and virtual games.
To summarise the CADIn findings, sleep deprivation influences many aspects of children’s moods, cognition and behaviour. Parents should educate their children on how to use the internet and the computer wisely and make them aware that there is a wide world to explore outdoors.