- Family and Parenting
Is Modern Technology Ruining the Essence of Childhood?
Technology Holding the Future
Technology Has So Many Benefits
Technology has so many benefits for growing young minds that it is difficult to turn our kids away from today’s interconnected world. We can connect their minds to learning programs, instructional videos, history programs, interactive games, and even online encyclopedias full of every fact known to mankind. The benefits of having this generation of young adults and children connected is clear; we have unprecedented access to a limitless resource. The next generations will be able to make friends in foreign countries, speaking with them in an everyday, colloquial style. Our youngest children have access to programs like leapfrog, aimed at teaching even the most basic learning principles to our kids in an exciting, enticing manner. Without modern technology, many of the advancements we have made would be impossible.
Yes, technology helps kids connect with their school friends and make new friends from all over the world. Children also develop their identity through technology which isn’t always the best. On social websites, they can have a whole new personality than what they actually have in real life, which is part of what causes social anxiety. Yes, they will know how to use technology and be able to adapt to the constant changing of equipment but will they have the ability to hold an intellectual conversation? And yes, children can watch whatever they want, whenever they want, and for as long as want, but will we really let our children turn into zombies? Our immersive culture surrounding this technology is what is most troubling.
With the advances of technology also comes a darker side, one that we must recognize and adjust ourselves to in everyday life. Kids are taught to plug into the TV and the games, and to tune out the real world, mostly so that the parents have it easy and are too lazy to interact. Was that too judgmental? Interactions in real life are often traded off for electronic ones. We favor text messaging over face to face conversation. We play Madden on the Xbox instead of playing flag football with the kids down the street. It is seen by parents as an easy way to keep children entertained and out of trouble, as zombified kids rarely cause any issue at all for them. We are trading our children’s brains for peace and quiet.
I know that things are changing. I can see it in kids and even adults my own age. People shrug off personal interaction in favor of Netflix nights, or just spend hours a day holed up playing video games. This is ruining what I feel is the essence of childhood: the development of a socially capable mind that is ready for the real world. Childhood is the time for our minds to grasp concepts, gain information on how to interact with each other and our world, and become responsible members of today’s society. Numerous reports have shown that internet also takes away from the creativity of developing minds, creating a void of original ideas. People interconnected at the modern level often show symptoms of the “hive mind”, a process of thinking that showcases unoriginal thoughts and the willingness to agree with the overwhelming majority. This is critical in the development of healthy, productive members of society. Free thinking and formulation of differing opinions is often shot down on modern website like Tumblr, Twitter, and YouTube. The promotion of ideals that were once commonly taught in daily interactions with your elders, such as morals, are neglected and children are simply expected to learn them from the sources at hand. We funnel TV shows featuring violence, lawlessness, and sexuality into their minds every day. While there are holds being put in place by lawmakers to curb access to these excesses, such as recent restrictions on violent video game sales to minors.
We need to take responsibility for our children. The world is experiencing a growth of anxiety at an alarming rate because kids just aren’t as social as they use to be. They consider themselves to be because they’re form of socializing is to sit inside and chat on a computer screen or text or chat on a headset during a video game. Interacting with people in the real world actually scares our children. Does this not frighten us as parents? It should. They’re taking over the planet when we’re gone. We need to step up to the plate and reward our children accordingly. We need to make sure they’re using they’re imagination on their homework rather than copy and pasting from the internet.
When I was a kid I hardly ever wanted to sit and watch TV or play video games. I was very active and I wanted to always be outside playing soccer or basketball. My parents were never really strict on how many hours we could watch television or play on the computer; they knew none of us would be able to sit and stare at a screen for long periods of time anyway. As a kid, I also wanted to be with my friends and hang out. The ‘cool’ spot to be at was at the local skating rink every Friday night. We didn’t have cell phones so the night was spent having face to face conversations with each other and just having fun.
I know that times are changing. Trust me, I know. I stated that once already but I am deeply saddened by the toll that it’s taken on our youth. Children are starting to pay attention to celebrities and wanting to live that kind of lifestyle. They’re wanting to dress like them, to look like them, and even act like a celebrity. It’s quite frustrating. It’s aggravating to see a parent let that kind of behavior slide. Children don’t need to take on life with that kind of attitude. It really isn’t healthy for our society if we’re raising a bunch of spoiled brats. If we spend more time with our children than we do money then we will be doing our best. As they get older and learn more about life and who they are, then they can develop the right kind of attitude they will need to take on the life that they have chosen for them. Child hood is very sacred. It’s something we shouldn’t take advantage of. They really are only small for a short period of time and time truly does fly by.
I am a mother of a five-year-old. She has such a big imagination and she’s so full of energy that I’m usually ready for a nap long before she is. She is the reason I care so much about this subject. My daughter rarely has a problem when it comes to her TV time. I allow her one hour per day so she can get her Pokémon fix. As soon as her show is over she is wanting to go outside to play tee ball or ride her little four-wheeler. My daughter absolutely loves to talk and dance and sing her little heart out. She’s not perfect, no one is, but if she throws a fit when TV time is up, she is disciplined depending on the level of her tantrum.
As a parent, I need to open my eyes when it comes to my child’s childhood. How much time is she spending dreaming and frolicking and connecting to the Earth? How often is she using her imagination? How much is she running around getting dirty and just being a kid? Because sitting in front of a television and staring at a screen for hours isn’t what children’s early years should be about. Kids don’t remember their best day of television. They won’t remember you for how much money you spend on them, they’ll remember you for all the time you spent together. They’ll remember you eagerly listening to every word they said because everything just means so much to them when they’re discovering how big the world is. They will remember all the times you went to their baseball games and cheered them on from the stands and all the time you spend cleaning the house and cooking dinner just for them. I strive to provide my daughter with every opportunity to play and dream and be a carefree child who views technology as a reward.
I’m not saying that technology needs to be completely banned from childhood, I’m saying that we, as adults, need to limit children on their daily use of the equipment. I’m sure these little technology natives will get enough use of it while they’re at school as it seems all schools are using more types of digital equipment. Their teachers will teach them an enormous amount of information on the current and future trends of modern culture and how to adapt. Our next generation will have so much literacy for technology and fluency for digital devices that we will be flabbergasted.
Another thing children will never know if we keep increasing their use of technology is books. I was literally never seen without a book in my hand when I was younger and that is still known to be true. Reading will expand our children’s vocabulary so much so that everyone will be impressed at how verbose they are. I understand they have kindles now but they will never know the wonderful smell of new pages or the creaking of an old book’s backbone. It’s the little things in life children need to appreciate.
We don’t want our children growing up to be socially impaired and have social anxiety. We don’t want them to feel neglected because of our generation also being hooked on technology. We don’t want them treating their friends that way either. We want them to socialize and go run around and get into a little bit of trouble with their friends, just a little though, enough to have fun and get grounded but not enough to get thrown in jail. We want our kids to get a good education and be able to go off to college and get an awesome job so that they can take care of us while we’re in the nursing homes. That’s every parent’s dream, right? Like Graeme Paton said, it truly is time to take action. Our children deserve the best and they deserve a childhood.
One of my favorite childhood books is The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. I feel like this quote will fit in just right and will also be an excellent ending this read. “Real isn’t how you are made”, said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real,” Margery Williams.