The world as we know is driven by technological advancement. From the food we eat, the cloth we wear to the new devices we use. This has presented mankind with some amazing opportunities and some delicate issues. One of the most prominent ills is the negative effects of technology on children.
The extent of the damage caused by technology is heightened by its broad mode of utilization. Whether it is via a laptop or a tablet or even a mobile phone, the ills of technology seem to be widespread.
Unlike adults that have developed immunity against a broad range of diseases, children have not. A major negative effect that technology poses on children is the health implications it renders. While it readily hinders social development, it also inhibits physical development. Below is the detailed list of the specific health concerns it poses to children.
Childhood Obesity: Since the invention of the mobile phone, there has been a gradual increase in the percentage and volume of kids living with obesity. Although feeding is a major cause of obesity, researchers have found a similar correlation with certain technologies.
Obesity was found to be a common issue for children. They spend most of their time staring at a screen rather than taking exercises. This is sedentary and dangerous to their health. Although the video games they play offer some form of intellectual development, prolonged exposure could lead to obesity.
Eye Strain: Although technology gives parents some form of freedom from having to physically monitor their kid's activities, it could be damaging their eyesight. Unknown to most parents, sitting for prolonged hours in front of a screen is harmful to children's eyes.
The danger exists because these devices transmit images via emitting a spectrum of blue light that is dangerous to kid's eyes. This is supported by the US Centre for Disease and Prevention's claim that kids who spend 8 hours daily staring at screens are in danger of developing eye problems and conditions.
Less Sleep: Due to kid's inquisitive nature, they are prone to develop screen addictions if not checkmated early. This addiction, in turn, affects their sleep patterns, which can also affect their sleep quality. Moreover, they develop a habit of having less sleep which can be dangerous to their brain development.
As a Penn State College of Medicine research showed recently, kids with screen addiction get an hour less sleep than their non-addicted counterparts. This shows the direct negative impacts of technology on children's health and education.
Depression & Distractions: Eliminating distraction can be a really serious parenting task, given the quality and volume of apps available today. Apps such as Instagram and Facebook were designed to keep people engaged and they do not discriminate against kid user. Moreover, these platforms help people keep tabs on each other's progress which in turn leads to comparisons and social media obsessions.
Children are prone to slide into depression when their reality (the one their parents offer them) cannot meet the standards social media 'friends' set for them. This negative impact of technology deals the greatest blow when it destroys unguarded children's self-esteem, which may even lead to suicidal tendencies if left unchecked.
Every human being has only 24 hours in each day, even children. So, the more time they spend interacting with various forms of technology (majorly screens), the less time they actually spend engaging with the real world. Whether they are sharing videos or playing online games, this generation of kids is witnessing the bad effects of technology. This is because it comes at the expense of their real-world friends and family.
Additionally, given the fact that these games, devices or applications appeal to the pleasure centers of the children's brain, it makes the parent the enemy. This occasionally puts a strain on the relationship between the children and their parent. This is supported by the fact that children view parents as the enemy whenever they are grounded from playing games or using their phones. However, parents must be firm in their control of the quantity and quality of their kid's exposure to the bad effects of technology.
Moreover, technology plays a critical role in the early exposure of children to obscene contents, whether adult, illegal or inappropriate. This is a very dangerous negative effect of technology as such exposures can destroy children's lives if not properly managed. These risks would not exist without technology.
Since parents cannot eliminate technology from their homes, they are advised to utilize the best-in-class solutions in minimizing their children's exposures to such contents. On a larger scale, it can be considered a negative impact of technology on society.
Lost Learning Time: Children of different ages show different aptitudes for using the computer and internet due to their early exposure. This puts a huge strain on their classroom teacher. Teachers are forced to carry every child along the learning curve, even though some might already be familiar with the topic.
This is the typical example of the negative effect of technology on education. It leads to the wastage of children's time as they have to relearn the basic skills and terminologies. This can give room for the development of other classroom vices such as unruliness and bullying.
Game Mentality: This is a serious effect of early and uncontrolled child exposure to technology. Due to the nature of their minds, children mistakenly think gaming is the primary function of computers. This means that at every opportunity they get to use the computer, even while at school, they would try to play games.
This becomes a huge distraction to them as they often develop tendencies to support this passion with others such as surfing the internet for additional content. This often leads to their picking up skills such as hacking or early exposure to inappropriate contents. Both of these vices can easily derail the education of a young mind due to their addictive nature.
Overuse and Distraction: We are not advocating the total isolation of our kids from technology. Instead, we are advising and supporting the regulated use of technology during a child's developmental stage. Another major negative effect of technology is its addictive mentality.
All forms of addictions and distractions are bad. So, parents and guardians should regulate the volume of technological exposure their children have. Also, in regulating this exposure, parents can use their kids' access to technology as an incentive to get them to do some chores or exercises. That way, they learn the power of focus and reward.
As stated earlier, complete isolation from technology is not advisable. Technology could help them develop critical life skills. However, parents are advised to consider the following tips on children's use of technology to make them healthier and safer.
a. Make outdoor activities compulsory: While children might not see the benefit, we do. Outdoor activities help them develop their motor skills, brain-hand coordination and their social skills. Moreover, it helps boost their immune system as they get to actively exercise every part of their body.
b. Stop using gadgets as a means to distract your kids: Many parents use gadgets as an alternative to actually monitor or engaging with their children. This automatically makes the kids more predisposed to getting screen addiction. Interrupt your children's addiction to their gadgets with engaging toys, action figures and books that would help them grow mentally and creatively.
c. Control screen time and sleep cycles: It is advisable for parents to calculate the amount of time their children spend daily on any form of screen. Then parents should divide the calculated time evenly across the day to prevent addiction. Moreover, the amount of time should be regulated to accommodate other critical aspects of their lives. This helps minimize most of the bad effects of technology on children.
Given their developing nature, children's brain requires about 10 sleeping hours daily for proper functioning. Therefore, it is important to make your child's sleep gadget-free and for improved cognitive functions.
d. Regulate how they interact with technology: Most children would rather spend long hours sitting so close to the television or phone screens than interacting with others. As a parent, break this cycle by frequently interrupting their attention to these devices. Also, advise them to stay a healthy distance from the devices' screen.
Additionally, it is important to encourage children to use these devices in ample lighting to minimize the strain on their fragile eyes. Auto brightness regulation is a common feature of devices today. This enables the devices to adjust to the lighting conditions in the room. Thereby reducing the effects on their eyes.
In conclusion, as a great parent that you are, it is advisable you come to terms with the fact that there are often negative effects of technology on children. So, it is your responsibility to encourage children to make the most of this development without damaging their lives or future. Every parent should help their children lead healthier and safer lives in this technology-driven world.