Thinking is what makes us human. It enables us to reflect, reason and draw conclusions as well as communicate, create, build and become civilized. Our ability to think starts off with what we observe, learn and remember as children. Before the early 2000s hit, children learned these concepts by experiences in the world, not from a device in their hands.
Our world is being overrun by technology for the better and for the worse. Technology especially impacts children psychologically and socially in a negative way. A human brain develops the most as a child, and using technology to learn is wiring the brain differently than previous generations.
According to Cris Rowan of the Huffington Post, “Four critical factors necessary to achieve healthy child development are movement, touch, human connection, and exposure to nature.” Children require at least 2 to 3 hours of active play per day to receive adequate stimulation. With technology advances, children will sit on their tablets, computers, laptops, etc. instead of playing with toys or inviting their friends over to play.
Technology causes the child to be isolated, neglect the outside world and become overstimulated because of how much information the internet provides. This leads to future problems such as obesity and diabetes, mental illnesses and heart attacks. Overuse of technology also decreases the attention span, which can lead to ADD/ADHD.
Rather than hugging, playing, rough housing and conversing with children, parents will resort to giving their child the remote to the television or buying them an iPad to occupy their time. This is extremely harmful for the four critical factors that Rowan mentioned.
Another issue technology creates is limiting the child’s imagination. Being exposed to different mindless applications will result in the child not being able to think, or base their “creative thought” off what they saw on the internet. This is another reason why the child should be exposed to nature and play with friends so they can create a view of the world and have a big imagination.
According to Adrianne Alvarado Ortiz of USA Today, “Overuse of electronic devices may cause impairment in the development of a child’s social skills. This includes the ability to make friends in person, take responsibility for actions, display good manners, use polite language, control emotions and temper, follow verbal directions and develop empathy for others.”
This is also extremely harmful because it impacts the child with conversational skills, listening and making eye contact. This can also create psychological issues such as paranoia, aggressiveness, antisocial behavior and social anxiety. Children who regularly use the internet and play video games also increase their risk of anxiety and depression, which increases their social anxiety.
However, there is a positive side to technology use with children. They will develop time and organizational skills, learn from mistakes and have a bigger window into the world. Technology can also be used as a teaching tool, such as interactive games to help a child count, read or learn words. Also, it can bring families together to watch their favorite show or play their favorite game.
From the information in this article, it is possible to conclude there are more negative than positive effects on children. It is true that children have an easier window to learning through technology, but it also has a serious impact on their social behavior as well as mental behavior.
Children need communication skills as well as exposure to nature and touch. Some people may argue that they are being exposed to the world through the internet, but they are not experiencing the world in their eyes; their perception of the world will be shaped on what they see online, not what they see in person. For example, they may think the world is terrible by reading articles about all the recent attacks in Las Vegas and London. But, they might steer away from articles about how people are sending help to Puerto Rico in their time of need.
Overall, parents should limit their child’s use of technology. This article is not meant to make you throw out every piece of technology you own, but to make you more aware of the harmful impact it has on a child’s future.
The bottom line is that too much time in front of the screen and not enough time for other activities such as reading, physically playing games, and imaginative play will result in your children having their brains wired differently to make them less prepared to thrive in our current world.
Marie Bray is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at MB822035@wcupa.edu.