Author: Sandhya Basu, (PhD) in Psychology
Children and technology form the two most inevitable parts of our lives. Children, in their capacities (mostly unintentional), not only take us back to our childhood days but also make us foresee the future, be it the family’s future or the nation’s. Technology, on the other hand, is our constant companion to such an extent that imagining a societal-life without technology has become impossible. In my opinion, I see the development of both children and technology responsible for a society’s and, in turn, the nation’s progress.
There is an essential link between children and technology. More specifically, I would like to make readers more aware of the effects of technology on children’s development. I have often come across instances, especially in grocery stores, where the parents instantly give crying toddlers tabs (to watch cartoons) as a reflex action. I have also observed instances where the elderly family members are having dinner in a restaurant, and the four-year-old is busy playing games on the phone. After experiencing such instances, I wonder if handing technical devices to children, with a developing brain, is justified.
Several research studies have asserted the ill-effects of technology on children. Continuous exposure to technology may decrease the attention span of children in real-life and may also heighten the risk for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This is a condition with decreased concentration level and increased hyperactivity/impulsivity in children. In addition, the content which the children are exposed to through mobiles, television, etc. may affect their cognition and behavioral patterns. Studies have also revealed that children who spend a lot of time in technical devices, be it watching series or playing videogames, tend to decrease their physical activities, like playing outdoors with friends. They are de-motivated to make friends and play with them. Thus, physical exercise goes downhill, increasing the risk of obesity and other health issues. Another significant aspect of technology which affects children is social media. Sites like Facebook, Instagram, etc. lead children, especially adolescents, to compare their lives with others, which in turn causes psychological problems like decreased self-worth, self-esteem issues, constant pressure to be liked, etc. Children are, therefore, always in the competitive zone where popularity on social media becomes the benchmark of one’s self-worth in real life. Moreover, the radiation from such devices is harmful for a child’s eyes and brain.
The question that now arises is what parents can do about the issue at hand. To begin with, the parents must check their consumption of technology. Children have a habit of mimicking elders. If they see that you don’t do what you preach, they will never intend to listen to you. Secondly, even though it becomes difficult to manage work and home as working parents, it is mandatory to spend quality time with your kids. You may choose to play outdoor games with them, read stories to them, or even listen to the events that your child has encountered throughout the day. This will not only reduce technology usage but will strengthen the bond between you and your child. Thirdly, encourage your child to go out and make friends, and most importantly, play with them. Lastly, take control of the screen-time. You may set a routine for your child in which they can watch TV or use their phones for two to three hours a day. This will neither isolate them from their virtual world nor make them addicted to technology.
For the development of our societies, we need individuals who can think critically, rationalize, and have effective communication skills. Though some may argue that technology in some ways is right for children, however continuous exposure of technology is never a good idea, especially if it is at the cost of your child’s physical and mental health.