The apex child rights body National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) in a study revealed that 59.2 per cent of children use their smartphones for instant messaging applications and only 10.1 per cent of children like to use smartphones for online learning and education.
"Around 59.2 per cent children use their smartphones/internet devices for 'chatting' (using WhatsApp/Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat). While only 10.1 per cent of children like to use smartphones for online learning and education," the study read.
Titled as the Effects (Physical, Behavioural and Psycho-social) of using Mobile Phones and other devices with Internet Accessibility by Children, the study says that 30.2 per cent of children of all age groups have their own smartphones.
The report states, "It is also interesting to note that 30.2 per cent of the children of all age groups (8 to 18 years) already possess their own smartphones and use the same for all purposes."
Surprisingly, 37.8 per cent of 10-year-olds have a Facebook account, and 24.3 per cent of the same age group has an Instagram account.
The trend line of the percentage of children using their own smartphones has shown a steep rise from the age of 13 years onwards. However, that of children using laptops/tablets to access the internet is evidently stable across all ages.
"This can lead us to the deduction that parents/guardians are more willing to provide smartphones to their children from the ages of 12-13 years onwards as against a laptop or tablet," the study notes.
The total number of responses collected was 5,811 participants, consisting of 3,491 school-going children 1,534 parents, and 786 teachers from 60 schools across six states in the country.
It is a nationwide study of all regions (East, West, North, South, and North-East regions) with 15 locations selected across, three areas, 1,000 respondents per region, and stakeholders i.e. schoolchildren, parents, and teachers.
Age distribution among all the children who participated in the study was also diverse with the mean age of the child participants being 14.05 years, the median was 14 years.
The study reveals that there is a direct relationship between age and having a social media account.
"Use of mobile before sleeping leads to adverse impact on children like sleep disorders, sleeplessness, anxiety, and tiredness, etc," it shows.
While the study revealed that 72.70 per cent of teachers had no prior experience of using smartphones, around 54.1 per cent believe that the use of smartphones in the classroom is "immensely or somewhat distracting".
Experts working for early detection and prevention of internet addiction at AIIMS Behavioural Addiction clinic suggest that parent's supervision of their child is of paramount importance. "Parents must introduce other life skills to children to ensure reduction in screen time," the study.