Adverse Impact of Modern Technology Upon Children
Cris Rowan is the primary source used to supplement this hub. She is a pediatric, occupational therapist from British Columbia, Canada. Her website can be visited by clicking on the following link:
She quotes and paraphrases numerous sources and I have done my best to give appropriate credit in this regard.
As one might expect, there are pros and cons in terms of how modern technology impacts young people. There are many positives in this regard; kids experience great fun playing video games, watching cartoons, etc. In the Wintertime especially, children are limited per outdoor activities so using modern technology indoors can be a nice substitute. A young person no longer has to be bored on an airplane flight because they can take along a handheld, video game system or some other technological gadget.
In this hub however, I more want to focus on some of the negative impacts of modern technology upon children. Elementary aged children now average 7.5 hours per day using a combination of technologies (TV, video games, internet, movies, cell phones and iPods), with total amount of exposure time averaging 11 hours per day. (Rowan paraphrasing a Kaiser Foundation Report from 2010).
Listing to too much loud music on an MP3 player can cause hearing loss. Being fixated for hours on video games or cartoons can cause vision problems, headaches and, dizziness. We have all heard of the epidemic of childhood obesity in this country. TV and video game use accounts for 60% of childhood obesity, and is now considered a North American epidemic (Rowan paraphrasing Tremblay M 2005, Strauss R 2001).
Kids can turn inward and socially isolate themselves as a result of over-exposure to modern technology. Instead of going out with friends a young person can easily spend a great deal of time in their room fixated on music, television, gaming, etc. "Attachment to technology is “detaching” children from humanity" (Rowan via Zone’in Fact Sheet) Other possible repercussions are an increase in psychological disorders, use of psychotropic medications, tactile deprivation, aggression, declining empathy, etc.
Where are the parents? If one has an intact, functioning family the parents can help to guide, counsel and, place limits on their child. For example, the parents can limit exposure to video games and all other gadgets to no more than 1.5 hours on a school evening or three hours on a weekend day. Parents can also encourage and find ways to get their child outdoors for more physical play.
A huge problem is this----many families are broken and one or both parents are not around very much. If both parents work and the older sister is at home with little brother there is more a chance brother will spend an excessive amount of time mesmerized by technological gadgets. The older sister herself will probably not watch her brother too closely; she will probably be too busy texting, surfing the internet or, listening to music. In many families, the parents are divorced so dad lives in one place and mom another.
I have noticed many kids in public places glued to their cell phones or listening to their iPOD. They do not seem to be experiencing the world around them...they are unaware of their natural environment. Their fixation is also a safety hazard as it makes them more likely to be in some sort of accident. I have seen young people get together for an evening of fun but instead of focusing on one another they are on their cell phones, are texting or, are on the internet.
My seven year old son loves video games and television. Realizing all of the aforementioned, we are still rather lenient with him per his use of technology. We nevertheless do place limits upon him and always make sure he does his homework and all other matters of importance and necessity. My wife is a stay at home mom so one of us is always there for him. We love him immeasurably and show it often with kind words, hugs and, other actions. Three critical factors for healthy physical and psychological child development are movement, touch and connection to other humans (Rowan paraphrasing Insel R 2001, Korkman M 2001). I notice limited adverse effects upon our child per his use of technology but we are, I believe, fortunate in this regard.
In summary, excessive exposure to modern technology can have a myriad of negative effects upon children. This trend will likely continue to be a problem due to the continued and rapid advancement of technology. Parents and other adults need to place constraints upon children to protect them from these adverse impacts. Unfortunately, many families are dysfunctional and/or broken which serves to deprive the child of the counsel and protection he/she needs. I hope this hub helps to raise awareness of the risks children face as a result of their over-exposure to modern, technological gadgets and devices.