If children under 16 use smartphones for more than three hours a day, they are at risk of serious psychological and medical effects. Studies demonstrate that the brain chemistry of young people addicted to smartphones and the internet may become imbalanced, resulting to irritability, increase in emotional distress, broken sleep patterns, isolation and higher levels of anxiety and depression, says Dr Rasha Bassim from the Priory Wellbeing Centre in Dubai.

Priory Group, the mental healthcare specialists’ new research shows 44 per cent of parents support a ban on smartphones for under-16s, with a staggering 92 per cent of the firm belief that social media and the internet are having a negative impact on the mental health of young people.

Following in the footsteps of France that recently banned children aged 15 and below from using their smartphones in school, UAE psychiatrist, Dr Bassim suggests parents and schools in the region could work together and introduce similar measures in the area to help eliminate the use of smartphones among this age group.

Also read: Curing your smartphone addiction in seven days

She recommends providing children with a basic phone only, to keep safe and ensure their parents or carers are aware of their movements.