Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to babysit a group of 5 kids, and I noticed that one kid in particular child was not meeting the standard developmentally for his age group. This kid was not interested in engaging with any of the other four children that were present because he was so engaged with the Ipad that his parents left for him to play with to keep him occupied. I was concerned because it revealed a shocking truth for the upcoming generation. It is likely that this new generation will not understand true friendship, or how to communicate their thoughts apart from a technological device. This is a sad reality that can be changed if we actively engage in teaching our kids how to balance technology and life.
“There is a growing body of research that has found that technology can be both beneficial and harmful to different ways in which children think. This influence isn’t just affecting children on the surface of their thinking. Rather, because their brains are still developing and malleable, frequent exposure by so-called digital natives to technology is actually wiring the brain. (Taylor, 2012)” The truth is that computers and technological advances help and hurt our children. However, it is believed that if how often our children are engaging in technology is regulated, then it can be solely a positive thing.
In the article “Anti-Social Networking” John Shumaker says that “Last week, the Pew Research Center found that half of American teenagers — defined in the study as ages 12 through 17 — send 50 or more text messages a day and that one third send more than 100 a day.” These facts have put into perspective how the American teenager is engaging with others. There was a time when children would spend time with their friends outside in the front yard, talking on the telephone, or having slumber parties, but children and teenagers are now communicating through text messages, tweets, and FB messages. How is this affecting them in the long run?
The “Edudemic” website produced an article on May 30, 2013 by Alice Martin about The four major negative effects that technology has on today’s children and teenagers. Alice lists them as elevated exasperation, deteriorated patience, declining writing skills, and lack of physical activity. Children are so engaged in things like texting, and video games that they are growing frustrated far more easily. Martin argues that anytime a teen’s parent asks them to do anything, teens are instantly frustrated because they have to break away from their games or texts. This is also directly affecting the youths’ patience because technology is making them more anxious to have things quick or immediate. This adds to frustration level among teens and children. Because the youth are utilizing shorthand writing during their online conversations, their writing skills are declining drastically. Because children are spending more time in front of the table, many kids are not getting the necessary physical activity. Some would argue that this is contributing to childhood obesity.
If something is not done about the state of our youth and the way that they have opted to communicate, it can really harm our world as a whole. In general, we are relational people who need to experience the deep tangibility of friendship. Our kids have limited relationships to technological and digital; the relationships that children and teens are building online are fickle and in many cases fake. Communicating solely through technology like FB, twitter, and text messages allow those involved to easily hide true character and represent themselves the way that they want to be perceived; all the while, the communicator on the receiving end believes a lie.
Within babysitting experiences, I have witnessed teenaged boys be glued to the TV playing video games for hours at a time; not even breaking to go to the bathroom because they need to “get to the next level” of their games. Video games, IPads, and most other digital advances are highly engaging and can really affect the way that children and teenagers develop. Attention spans are growing shorter and shorter because our children are only accustomed to highly engaging things. Reading is hard to do because it requires more focus. Things like IPads and computers make us less likely to be engaged by things that are simpler like, a book.
Ultimately, it would be idea if every parent invested and took serious the importance of regulating internet and technology consumption amongst the youth and children. The youth need to understand the importance of social ability in face to face to face communication.
Taylor, J. (2012, 12 4). How technology is changing the way children think and focus. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-power-prime/201212/how-technology-is-changing-the-way-children-think-and-focus
Shumaker, J. (2010, 04 10). Antisocial networking. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/02/fashion/02BEST.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Martin, A. (2013, 05 30). The 4 negative side effects of technology. Retrieved from http://www.edudemic.com/the-4-negative-side-effects-of-technology/