Over the last few years, technology has undergone a massive change and has completely changed every aspect of our lives. From the way we book movie and flight tickets to dealing with our banks to even watching entertainment programs and shopping for groceries, everything has now gone online and available at a click. While this is how good technology has been to us. However, one of the most noticeable difference is the way it has impacted children’s learning, the way they play and interact with other children. While the previous generation of children dirtied their hands playing on the grounds, running around, and with toys, today’s children spend their free time and vacations on devices. While it’s true that technology has many positive benefits for children’s learning, it also has several negative effects on children’s development.
Take smartphones for example. Today they have become ubiquitous and are proliferating like nothing in the past has. Children are spending so much of their time on smartphones that parents are finding it difficult to cut their phone addiction. In 2017, Napster co-founder, Sean Parker had said that smartphones are affecting childhood development. He’s not the only one saying so, across the world millions and millions of parents have the same concern—how to wean children from using technology.
The Digital Intelligence Quotient (DQ) Institute and World Economic Forum (WEF) have together launched a guide that tells parents how to monitor their children’s mobile usage. Use the guise to understand how technology can be controlled.
Here are six effects of technology on children’s development.
Limits attention span
Unlike games where children play with each other and are attentive, technology has become notorious for limiting children’s attention span. The moment they start using a device, they are completely engrossed in them and their attention span decreases. It completely alters brain wiring. You might ask how? Unlike adults whose brains are already developed, children’s brains are still developing and susceptible to changes brought about by technology. Children who get their information reading, imaging, or participating in activities are more likely to stay focused, have better attention, and do better academically.
Children that use devices do not have any sort of self-control as they binge-watch cartoons or movies on mobile. This will impact their growth badly, hut their eyes, make them obese, and cause them to throw tantrums. It also huts children’s ability to learn things on their own. Another problem is today’s parents, instead of spending time with children, give them devices to silence them or buy them time. This will only make them lazy in the long term.
- Bad language and increased aggressions
Let’s admit it. Most songs or animated series or even TV shows and movies always have some sort of bad language that is not appropriate for children. However, children are naive and don’t understand the meaning of the words used and might use them for daily conversation. Some mobile or video games also have violence in them and children might think that violence is cool after watching them. So, it’s important to keep children away from technology and devices. According to researchers, exposure to violence on TV/mobile/computers makes children more likely to argue with parents, siblings, or even other children.
- Less physical activity
One important issue with excessive use of technology is that children no longer have or prefer physical activities. They spend their time sitting at home or lying on the bed or sofa. Technology sometimes makes children forget important activities like eating and sleeping.
- Less interaction
Technology reduces interactions. Just like technology reduces interactions among adults, it also reduces interactions among children. For example, when children use devices, their interactions with others in the family or neighborhood reduces drastically. When this happens, they no longer learn three of the most important skill of life—talking and networking as well as problem-solving.
- Harms academics and education
Another area where technology harms children more is their school performance. As children spend more time on devices, they have less time to spend on writing assignments, studying, preparing for exams, and more. This has a direct impact on their school performance and exams. Sometimes it can be so bad that children actually can’t learn languages.
While these are the main issues, there are several others like children not having empathy, emotions, and not being able to multitask due to excessive screen time. While it’s okay to use technology in moderation as it has benefits, using it excessively can cause a lot of issues mentioned above. While there is no fixed time that your child can spend on technology, anywhere between 1-2 hours daily should be enough. It’s important to use technology for academic and personal benefits apart from entertainment but anything beyond this should be a strict no for them.
You need to limit their screen time by talking them out of it. Do not use coercion as it doesn’t help much except making children more curious.