Evolution and Transformation
Today’s children face technological choices that most parents believed were writ in spy novels or the makings of the latest science fiction blockbuster movie. A recent study indicates that almost 50% of toddlers use tablets, smartphones, computers, game consoles or a combination of all four, and not randomly but with savvy skill. Indeed many children excel and hone in their abilities with ease, and so much that they are able to teach their parents a thing or two.
In the 2012 CNN report, Is the Internet hurting children, authors Clinton & Steyer found that “by the time they’re 2 years old, more than 90% of all American children have an online history. At 5, more than 50% regularly interact with a computer or tablet device, and by 7 or 8, many kids regularly play video games”. Following from their findings, they advocate changes in legislation and policy to minimize the risks to children yet enhance the educational opportunity.
The question is: are we doing them a favor? The impact of this easy access to numerous high-tech devices and social media may affect not only cognitive development but also the social, emotional and physical concerns and components of our developing and impressionable youth. Fundamentally, technology is transforming how children learn and shifting the paradigm in terms of information distribution, absorption and assimilation.
Furthermore, are we merely witnessing a norm in terms of social evolution so what is happening to children is indicative of what the future holds for all of us in this digital era?
According to the research here are some of the pros and cons in regard to technology use in young children.
- Teaching collaboration and social skills
- Learning responsibility and care of devices
- Parents experience a sense of peace
- Instant online answers and information even for remote locations
- Exposure to a variety of music, culture, nature and geography
- Inexpensive entertainment
- Access to education, imaginative and creative tools
- Advantages for economically challenged children
- Prepares children for advanced studies
- Promotes a sedentary lifestyle
- May lead to weight gain and obesity
- Limits or prevents toddlers from learning hobbies and sports
- Distraction from homework
- Exposure to child predators, cyberbullying and improper sexual identity
- Increases certain disorders such as of ADHD, autism, coordination disorder, sensory processing disorder, anxiety and depression (Sledge)
- Increases desire and preference for more expensive devices
- Permanence and privacy issues
- Higher exposure to radiation (Szczerb)
Ultimately, parents make the decision whether their child is responsible enough to navigate the internet safely.
Clinton, C. & Steyer, J.P. (2012). Is the Internet hurting children? CNN.
Haelle, T. (2015). Very Young Kids Often Use Tablets, Smartphones, Study Finds.
Sledge, B. The pros and cons of technology for children.
Szczerb, R.J. (2015). Study Suggests Wi-Fi Exposure More Dangerous To Kids Than Previously Thought. Forbes.
Leslie Olsen has a Master’s degree in Health Policy. She is a Published Author, Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Health Coach, Fitness Coaching Specialist, and Licensed Massage Therapist. You can contact her and read other articles she has written on LinkedIn.