The Effects of Modern Technology on Children

Today’s technology can be a great thing if used correctly and in moderation. It has enabled us to do so many things. If we don’t know the answer to a question we can go online and type in the question on Google or many other search engines and instantly get the answer we seek. While most adults think this technology is great is it really something we want our children utilizing? Should children be able to just type in a question and receive an answer without having to learn? Online gaming, social networks and texting has taken the place of real conversations and interaction with others.

Will the overuse of technology today cause more problems for our children as they become adults? Professor of psychology Larry D. Rosen, PhD. states that “Daily overuse of media and technology has a negative effect on the health of all children, preteens and teenagers by making them more prone to anxiety, depression, and other psychological disorders, as well as by making them more susceptible to future health problems. ” The keyword in that statement is overuse. Technology can be a great and powerful tool if used in moderation.

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Cris Rowan explains in her article The Impact of Technology on Child Sensory and Motor Development how the overuse of technology is affecting our ability to raise healthy, well rounded children. Where 100 years ago we needed to move to survive, we are now under the assumption we need technology to survive. The catch is that technology is killing what we love the most…connection with other human beings. Connection is integral to that developing child’s sense of security and safety. Healthy attachment formation results in a happy and calm child.

Disruption or neglect of primary attachment results in an anxious and agitated child. Family over-use of technology is not only gravely affecting early attachment formation, but also having a negative impact on child psychological and behavioral health. (Rowan, 2013) Three crucial factors for healthy physical and psychological development in children are movement, touch and connection to others. These three things are needed for the development of a child’s motor and attachment system.

Young children need three to four hours of play time to develop normally (Rowan, 2013). Spontaneous play time allows children to use their imaginations, and socialize with each other to a greater extent than when they play video games. Too many hours in front of the computer, latest video game, or on their smart phone can cause severe damage in the development of a child. Rowan believes that overuse of technology is “causally linked to the increase in diagnoses of ADHD, autism, coordination disorder, sensory processing disorder, anxiety, depression and sleep disorders. Rowan also gives alarming statistics to support her hypothesis “one in six children has a diagnosed developmental disorder, one in six is obese and 14. 3% have a diagnosed psychiatric disorder. ” Many people believe that if one can focus on a video game for hours that they have no problem when it comes to paying attention. My nephew is a prime example of this, while he can play video games for hours and completely tune out the world he cannot sit still, cannot focus on reading and constantly is moving either is legs or hands. He has been diagnosed with ADHD.

I never understood his diagnosis until I read the following “…video games require a different type of attention…the player is constantly gaining rewards which stimulate the brain to release a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Schoolwork most definitely does not provide constant rewards…not nearly as much dopamine is released, nor is the reward center of the brain being constantly activated” (Rosen,113). The constant action of a video game stimulates the mind more than school, which goes slower and is not always interesting; therefore it’s easier to focus on a video game.

A pediatrician at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Dr. Dimitri Christakis said, “If a child’s brain gets habituated to that pace and to the extreme alertness needed to keep responding and winning, the child ultimately may find the realities of the world underwhelming, under stimulating” (qtd. in Rosen,113). If children find something boring they are not going to want to pay attention but when a child is used to constant excitement and movement they are unable to pay attention to things they should such as schoolwork.

Children don’t do this out of defiance they do it because their brain is used to being constantly stimulated and they are unable to. We have gone overboard when it comes to the use of technology. The use of computers can be a great thing for education if done the right way and in moderation. I feel like the use of Google and many other search engines gives children the easy way out of learning. For a school paper, such as the one I am writing now I can simply type in a question and get an instant answer without having to put much thought in it.

For example I am typing this on my computer now, it does a word count, grammar and spell check for me. If I were writing this out with a pen and paper it would be completely up to me to make sure that I spelled everything right. While we “adults” enjoy the features of Microsoft word, do we want our children to be able to use this? How will they properly learn how to write sentences or even spell some words if a computer will do it for them? A survey done by The Kaiser Family Foundation found that 8-18 year olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes a day to using some form of entertainment media.

This includes everything from listening to music on their iPod, computer time, TV. and cell phones. Because they are multi-tasking during most of this time, using more than one form of media, they can pack 10 hours and 45 minutes worth into those 7 hours (kff. org, 2010). That statistic shocked me, I knew a lot of time was spent but had no idea how high the numbers actually are. The impact that technology has had on grades of children is astounding, 66 percent of light users reported good grades, and 23 percent indicated fair or poor grades.

With moderate use, good grades stayed about the same (65 percent), but there was an increase of students with fair or poor grades (31 percent). Those who are heavy users of technology clearly show how technology can affect grades, with only 51 percent of heavy users reporting good grades and 47 percent indicating fair or poor grades. AVG, the Internet security company, conducted a study and found that young children are more likely to master tech skills than life skills. For example, while 58 percent of 2- to 5-year olds can play a computer game, only 43 percent can ride a bike.

Of children in that age group, 10 percent can use a smartphone application, while only 9 percent can tie their shoes. (Taylor, 2012) The use of computers, video games and text messaging is not always a bad thing. For children who are shy or have social anxiety the internet is a great way to overcome this. They can form new friendships and speak more openly to the friends and family they already have without feeling uncomfortable or awkward like they would in person. Video games can be great for hand and eye coordination, developing quick decision making skills and multi-tasking.

Technology is essential in today’s world. Adults can’t learn it fast enough to keep up in our “wired” world but it seems that children are learning technology to fast. Technology is a great and powerful tool when it comes to educating our children but I think that it is used too much. It’s easier for children look things up online rather that look through books at a library. When children are looking things up online they aren’t absorbing the information they are reading, they are remembering how they found the information.

Are they really learning anything that way? Parents and teachers need to monitor how much and what kind of technology their children use. Technology has been very helpful, I personally would not want to live without it. But I think that we have gone overboard in our everyday use of technology. We are “overdosing” on technology. Being “plugged in” is harming the development of our children, rewiring our brains to the point where we are not able to focus on single tasks and changing the way we comprehend and remember things.

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