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What Are The Effects of Technology On Our Children?

young girl doing homework on her computer

With technology increasingly present in our everyday lives and the sheer amount of hours we spend on them as well as our children. Maybe it’s time we took a look at this in a bit more detail. You don’t really need a scientific study to tell us that our engagement levels and interaction with our children has decreased over the last few years. 

Is this a good or a bad thing? That’s a question that many parents are now asking themselves.

Never has there been a time in our history where our kids now have access to so much information at the push of a button and a few mouse clicks. 

They can literally Google anything they like and get the answer back in a few milliseconds. And, now with the emergence of voice controlled speakers and devices it’s even easier. Whether they’re helping you in the kitchen or studying in the dining room. As long as there is a smart device or speaker close by, they can simply shout out a question:

“Alexa, What was burnt in the Great Fire of London?”

“Hello Google, Who founded Rome?”

Just how much restriction should we put on this type of access and do we need a better understanding on the technological impacts so we can act?

Let’s take a look at the positives and negatives shall we?

The Negative Effect Of Technology

Critical Thinking

little girl thinking while doing her homework

So what exactly is critical thinking? It is the ability to sit down and analyse information objectively and make a reasoned judgement. Its collating information sources from facts, data and research findings and then be able to draw a reasonable conclusion from the information.

Studies have confirmed that our children are reading less books and reading more content online. This isn’t that surprising really since there is only a certain amount of time in the day. Also, they are increasingly being introduced to computers at school (where most reading used to take place). 

The text that they are reading is normally in the format of short 140 - 280 characters or less which means that the length of text just isn’t conveying as much information and therefore not challenging them enough.

What Can You Do?

This isn’t an easy question to answer. Especially since parents have time constraints of there own to work out. However, an effort should be made by parents to set a bit of time aside where there are no electronics present for their kids to sit and read and with access to you so that you can answer any questions they have. 

Not only will this help with critical thinking, but it will help with their conversational skills.

ATTENTION & IMAGINATION

I think we can all agree that kid’s attention spans have never been great. With the emergence of technology and social media platforms vying for their attention, this has been made a lot worse. Unfortunately, there are now multiple touchpoints designed to distract our children or encourage them to stay on platforms longer.

With such a short burst of related and unrelated information transmitted, there isn’t a great deal of quality stimuli and there is certainly little storytelling available to stoke a child’s mind.

What Can You Do?

There are several articles online that encourage us to take out kids outside to play. We are encouraged to take them to the park and even swimming. However, for most busy parents you don’t always have the time to do this, or it is not always convenient.

For most, it’s more convenient to let their children play in the garden.

For that reason, most parents try to make their gardens into small play areas for their kids. It means they don’t need to plan, pack food, pack the car and bring enough clothes for every British season.

The idea is to keep them entertained from the comfort and convenience of your garden. Take a look at an article we wrote entitled “10 Outdoor Play Area Ideas Your Kids Will Adore” that should give you a few ideas to stimulate your kid’s imagination and introduce them to outdoor play again.

You could try encouraging them to read storybook classics. These are iconic books that were written several years ago and are still popular among parents today as a source of good storytelling books.

Screens May Affect Your Child's Brain Development

Young brains need a lot of external stimuli to develop. Particularly from birth to the age of three. You may have heard this referred to as the “critical period.” This is the time when kid’s neurons are making vital connections such as vision, hearing, and language. 

Believe it or not, these connections are based on centuries-old needs (from caveman and woman days) and not those of screens.

There’s a huge difference in a child laying and listening to a story from a parent to laying there watching a screen.

Privacy & Safety

This is probably the largest concern when we talk about the influence and effects technology has on our kids. 

Not only do we need to keep a check on what our kids are looking at online. We also need to protect their overall mental health as some comments or posts on forums, blogs and YouTube can be extremely negative.

What Can You Do?

Keep your eyes on your web explorers at all times - Most web browsers allow you to set up restrictions on which websites your kids can browse through. You also have the ability to restrict access via your router too!

It is a good idea to continually check on their web activity via the history tab/link on the browser which should allow you to better monitor their browsing activity.

Teach them to keep private info private - Teach your kids not to reveal their real names, where they go to school or hang out to play. This also applies to any other sensitive information (including yours).

Also:

  • Keep up to date with the current digital trends. If your kids know more than you, it’s easier for them to access information and content you are unaware of.
  • If your kid asks for a login a payment details. Always check why they need that information first.
  • Try to develop an open relationship with them and encourage them to talk to you.
  • Have strict rules on when and how often they get to use technology in the home. It might even be a good idea to decrease your time online too. Nothing like setting a good example.
  • The Positive Effect Of Technology

    Technology allows for creativity & freedom of expression

    Group of children sitting on the floor with technology

    I know I mentioned how technology could have a negative effect on your kid’s imagination. However, there are also some positive impacts too. For example, the old fashioned way of getting them to express themselves was with a pen, pencil, coloured markers or crayon so they could get their ideas down on paper. 

    Now they have access to tablets and computers that allow them to turn those thoughts into a visual reality. 

    They can now do things like basic 3D animation and where possible, even print to a 3D printer to transform their idea into a physical form.

    Depending on which direction your kid wants to go in. They can even start to learn basic programming skills and also start to write code for basic games and apps. The possibilities are endless.

    Technology aids in socialisation and relationship building

    Let’s face it, technology is now present in all of lives. Including other family members and peers. This means it is almost impossible to completely limit your kid’s access to technology when so many of their friends and family are using it.

    The ability of them to socialise with games and mobile apps is vast and they may even pick up new interests and hobbies based on what their friends are also into.

    Don’t forget, they will need to know a basic level and understanding of technology as they make their way through senior or upper school and then eventually into a paying job. 

    Restricting access to them at such an early age could arguably disadvantage them in the long run. 

    Technology improves problem solving and perseverance

    If you have ever played a computer game you may or may not have heard of “survival mode.” So what exactly is this?

    Survival mode is a special mode that encourages the gamer to stay alive as long as possible so that they can outlast their opponents.

    In the game “Minecraft”, the survival mode is a way for players to sharpen up on their problem solving skills. 

    They are purposely dropped into a new environment and must immediately look for shelter and collect life saving items such as food and weapons to survive the new environment. 

    A minecraft day is actually 10 real world minutes, so players need to think superfast and make the right moves based on decisions they make.

    This is an extreme example, but, I think you get the point? Many games include a similar element of “survival mode”and your kids are conditioned at an early age to use their mind to problem solve with persistence.

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