What is the right age for children to be introduced to technology? Is it healthy or good for children to be too reliant on technology? Surely, there are pros and cons of children using technology and it is difficult to take a certain stand without delving into the details and fairly assessing the consequences of the advantages and the negative impacts.
Children must use technology. That isn’t the debate. The questions are how much, how often and to what extent. Technology is not just confined to computer or the old mobile phone that hardly had any games. Technology includes smart phones, state of the art video games, different kinds of gadgets and certainly the laptops, tablets and a whole gamut of gizmos that kids are surrounded with today.
Almost every child born today or since the millennial generation is and will be tech savvy. They will get accustomed and be quite deft with computers. Parents don’t need to try hard or even make an attempt to get their kids accustomed with computers or mobile phones. It is amazing to watch a toddler smartly handle a mobile phone or a four year old conveniently playing a game on a tablet.
The older generations would feel that the human species has evolved and that kids today are preprogrammed to manage such technological wonders. It is indeed fascinating to watch. There are many elders from the baby boomer generation and before who are yet to get accustomed with texting or emailing and here we have kids not even close to their teens who can write a code or two. Let us talk about the wonderful perks of technology and the adverse impacts of the same. Here are the pros and cons of children using technology.
List of Pros of Children Using Technology
1. Children Have Better Motor Skills.
We are not talking about teens here but toddlers. Regardless of the weight of a baby at the time of birth, most toddlers will have chubby hands. It is natural. Those cute chubby hands get an effective workout when kids play around with computers, keyboards, mouse or touch-pads. Even if they are playing videos games or a game on a tablet, their fingers and hands get a workout. Such exercise is very healthy. The buttons on modern keyboards or keypads, the touchscreen functions and the mice of the day are very convenient to handle. Gone are the days when such keys or clicks of a mouse would require a hard press and thus have the possibility of causing injury to the tiny bones and their joints. Kids have absolutely no risk or threat when they use such gizmos. In effect, toddlers get better control of their fine motor skills. They can use their fingers and hands more deftly.
2. Improved Cognitive Functions.
For a long time, parents had been worried that watching cartoons would have a very adverse impact on the child’s brain. Scores of studies have proved that it is quite to the contrary. Cartoons don’t make a child dull. Likewise, many parents thought that playing video games or being with gizmos may make their kids a little dull or would impair their cognitive development. Quite to the contrary, technology helps in faster and better development of cognitive skills. Imagine all those toys that kids of the baby boomer generation and since have grown up with. Whether it is a puzzle or scribbling on a drawing book, everything can be attended to using technology and the latter does much more. There are interactive apps, video games, different kinds of challenges and educative programs available on various kinds of devices. Such products would always improve a kid’s cognitive skills.
3. Preoccupies Children.
Leave kids with a smart phone or tablet, a handheld video game console or possibly a PlayStation, Xbox or Nintendo and you don’t have to be worried about the child for hours. Kids can spend hours, days and weeks when they have such devices. There is nothing unsafe, the kids are not at any risk of getting injured or harmed and they would even keep silent and calm. No crying, no major mess of paints on the walls or any such conventional chaos that parents have to deal with when they have young kids. Technology has changed all that.
4. More Fun for Kids.
Children have a great deal of fun when they are amidst technological perks. They also enjoy the cause and effect that such devices make them aware of. Whether it is a simple puzzle game or a race, something like Angry Birds or a simple first person shooter game, children have fun and they understand simple aspects of cause and effect, action and reaction.
5. Technology Exists Everywhere.
Now, moving away from fun, games and frolic, technology is used in every facet of a child’s development. Children using technology at school, home and everywhere they go would learn much more. A kid with access to internet can learn more than what ten years in school would be able to teach them. That doesn’t do away with the need for schooling but technology does make things better. Audio visual presentations, interactive educational programs, 3D presentations, audio books and a whole gamut of technological perks has revolutionized education, and for the better. Kids when taught using technology and state of the art tools or methods are likely to learn more. Also, they are likely to remember such experiences as they are interesting. A boring paragraph reading or lecture on some subject seldom entices young kids.
List of Cons of Children Using Technology
1. Sedentary Lifestyle.
Technological wonders would stimulate a child’s brain and would certainly help in cognitive development but what about the rest of the body. Kids who are too engrossed and busy with technology will stay away from the playgrounds, parks and from outdoor activities in general. Such kids may never develop a penchant for sports or athletics. They may eventually be unfit, unhealthy and their normal physical development may also be affected. A child needs to run, fall, jump, race, play something and do all kinds of exercises that outdoor activities and sports bring about. Increasingly, children are being swayed away from such natural joys and exercises of life and that is one reason why obesity is at an all time high. Other than poor diets, technology is to blame for this undesirable reality. The way out or solution to this problem is very simple. Limit the time when kids are allowed to use technology or even limit the kinds of technological wonders they get their hands on. This will compel them to go out and do things that kids have done for centuries.
2. Simulated Satisfaction.
Another very significant impact of children using technology is simulated satisfaction. The virtual world of technology, whether it is a video game or a tablet, is all about simulation. So the achievements and skills are also within the realm of simulation. Everything is intangible. A kid who excels at virtual archery is not actually a great archer. This sense of virtual accomplishment or simulated expertise is going to satiate a kid and he or she may not want to venture out and accomplish something. This creates another problem. Whenever kids would have some problems in real life, some failures or some challenges, they would seek refuge in their own simulated world facilitated by technology. They would look for solace, comfort or even accomplishments and sense of satiation in that virtual simulated world. The fallout of this can be far-reaching and life altering, certainly in a negative sense.
3. Less Socialable.
They would have less family time. Interpersonal relationships will be difficult to develop and they may not even have many friends. Even if they do socialize, they may struggle to mingle with kids. The anonymity and the sense of empowerment that technology provides actually don’t help a child to become expressive, an articulate communicator or an empathetic person. To the contrary, a child may be a little cold to emotions, she or he may have a completely different range of reactions to real life situations and might not even feel the need to do certain things that kids should do, for instance chores or participating in something as a family.
4. Developmental Disabilities.
Let us now talk about some inferences from a wide range of studies and researches that have been conducted over the past years trying to understand the fallout of excessive use of technology among kids. Today, more kids have development disability. More kids are obese than ever before. More kids are being diagnosed with psychiatric disorders. ADHD, coordination disorder, anxiety, sensory processing disorder and depression among kids are on the rise. Also, let us not forget the premise of cyber bullying.
5. Not The Most Cost Efficient.
Technology isn’t cheap. When children using technology start demanding more, it can become quite taxing and often unbearable for parents. Ten year olds and twelve year olds demand a new mobile phone every year. Teens and younger kids expect fancy gadgets and technological devices on their birthdays and being compelled to spend on such gadgets, even if they are for educational purposes, can be very inconvenient for parents.
6. Less Connected.
The world has become a smaller place. In an increasingly globalized world, people are becoming increasingly nuclear. That has lead to most people living alone or lonely lives. Solitude may be desirable but isolation is not. Technology can easily make a child isolated. At the early stages or during the formative years, the child would enjoy this isolation but sooner or later, this affinity for technology and the resulting isolation will become the source of agony.