The problems of parenthood have never been simple, but with the emergence of technology and its numerous innovations, the parental plot thickens. One of the most relevant debates of modern-day childhood deals with if, how, and to what extent technology can affect our youngsters. With so many studies already in full swing and results pouring in, it has become clear that there is evidence to support both the negative and the positive impact of tech on kids. So, what do we do with the somewhat confusing data?
Well, as parents, it’s up to us to strike the fine line between overuse and purposeful education as well as entertainment. To be able to find that balance, let’s take a closer look at the key ways in which technology has the ability to affect our kids’ lives.
The issue of their attention span
It might be caused by the recent surge in kids with ADHD as well as more thorough studies to better understand this complex notion, but we have recently started to pay more attention to attention itself. Apparently, digital natives of a young age who spend plenty of time online run the risk of lowering their attention span, which can in turn affect their ability to remember relevant information, or their imagination.
Unlike reading, which demands focus and offers few if any distractions, digital gimmicks offer too many stimuli for a child’s brain to truly form the ability to focus. Remember that children’s brains are highly malleable and susceptible to environmental influences in the early stages of development. If we continuously deprive them of a safe space where they can focus and develop better memory and critical thinking, we also tend to inhibit their imagination.
Shifting focus to different skills
On a more positive note, with these tech advancements, the world in which our kids are growing up is drastically different from the one in which we were raised. Different skills are more relevant for them to go through education, successfully interact with others, and solve problems. This is where tech actually prepares them for the 21st-century lifestyle where they have information and knowledge at their fingertips, thus reducing the need for data retention, but they need to be able to know where to find it.
It’s still vital to recognize that need for balance, so more parents begin to introduce iPhone restrictions for their kids to make sure they can only access the data they need and games they will benefit from. In a sense, we can use technology to implement boundaries on its own usage, to make sure that our kids can reap the rewards without crossing that crucial threshold.
Emotional and social development
Certain psychological traits such as confidence, self-esteem, and emotional development cannot, however, develop properly without ample social interaction. That said, if your kids are growing up in a family where the use of technology is haphazard, with no boundaries both for the parents and the kids, they might grow up alienated, without developing proper bonds to their loved ones. Instead of letting them immerse themselves completely into the digital, every parent needs to be a role model, first and foremost.
Incorporating shared activities such as picnics, bike rides, and reading all contribute to finding the balance and teaching your kids to recognize technology as a useful tool, and not as the only interesting way to spend their time. They need to distinguish between social media and real friendships, learn to read body language cues, and be able to verbally express themselves and their emotions. For that to happen, every parent needs to set boundaries from a very young age.
It’s vital to remember that using technology comes with a slew of physical issues that can affect how well your child develops. Even you as an adult can suffer from headaches after using the computer for hours on end, but when your kids are exposed to too much screen-time, it has the ability to impair their eyesight and cause equally painful headaches. Nearsightedness among kids and grownups has increased dramatically – for example, in the US alone, it has soared from 25% to 41.6%, turning it into a serious issue for people of all ages.
Studies have also shown that dopamine production is linked to playing video games, and it has the potential to cause a form of digital addiction, which can further hinder your child’s wellbeing and development. On a different note, playing games in moderate amounts and in a supervised environment can help dyslexic kids read better, recognize words more easily, and overall cognitive improvements. It boils down to the very same notion of balance, consistency, and guidance that is the overarching theme of this debate.
As we keep developing our technological prowess and surround our kids with more innovation, it’s our responsibility to stay vigilant as to how this changing world will affect their lives and what we can do to utilize the benefits and minimize the damage. Much like with eating predominantly healthy while we do give our little ones an occasional sweet treat, technology can be a useful outlet, a source of information, and a necessary means to live in the modern era, but it doesn’t have to be the scarecrow of our time.