Children need more than technology in their lives

Children Having Funby Aby Nicole League

“The youth today are becoming more and more attached to their technology,” according to TeenInk when asked about whether technology serves a good purpose to the younger generations.

Technology, supposedly, provides a way to further communication, but has impeded personal interaction within the generation. It has kept children occupied both online and offline; reducing the time they could actually spend on recreational activities, studying lessons for school and resting.

Moreover, it has affected them emotionally: bringing a sense of loneliness and emptiness without these gadgets.

Technology as an impediment to a more personal interaction

Relationships, today, are being built virtually rather than personally because of the internet. Kids are of no exemption to this.

As the online media easily connects people to a wider range of information, it just as well disconnects most to the real world wherein human interaction is more precious. While non-internet users spend an average of 12.6 more minutes doing social activities such as playing physical games to develop creativity, having intimate conversations with family members, internet users, on the other end, spend 34.3 minutes less with family and friends.

Internet usage keeps the generation occupied online with social interactive networks such as Facebook and Twitter, replays of video clips and television shows on YouTube, and addictive computer games such as DOTA. Gadgets like cellphones, virtual gaming devices such as the Playstation and Gameboy, and even the simple television entice children to enter the offline virtual world and spend less time in social interaction. iPods and cellphones have become a portable introvert’s bubble that distract kids from real life experiences as these allow them to connect through the internet, text and play games anywhere. When teens refuse to talk or hear you, plugging in earphones connected to their mp3 players become handy tools to avoid such.

In a study conducted by Nickelodeon last November 2013, it was found that media consumption among kids has grown over the past four years including TV, computer and gaming console, and tablet and Smartphone usage.

In 2011, an average of 6.9 hours per month is spent on social networking sites; 4.8 on phone and email; 59.4 on watching TV offline; 23.1 on watching TV online; and only 21 on socializing in person and 15.3 on taking care of other members of the household. That’s about 94.2 hours on technological gadgets over only 36.3 hours on real life interactions.

Limit their screen-time. Children and teens shouldn’t be exposed to entertainment and the social media for more than two hours per day. Establish this good habit early on to promote a greater interest in family activities more than virtual entertainment.

You might also want to employ a time ratio between technology use to engagement in recreational and physical interactions. Using a 1 to 5 ratio, your kids can watch the TV for 20 minutes; in return, they have to engage in gardening and planting trees or playing along with other children for an hour and a half.

Technology consumes time that can be used for studying and beneficial learning

The use of technology should aid the generation in their research work at school, in the awareness of issues around them and in the collection of knowledge without having to travel to different places; however, social networking sites and gaming consoles eat their online time.

Although it can serve as a learning environment, Facebook, the top destination having 70 percent of all active U.S. internet users as its visitor, deny children of their time for studying and educational learning. Technological saturation’ on children takes its toll on their performance in school. Almost half of the children, who were considered heavy media users, in a survey conducted by Family Education had grades of mostly C’s or lower compared to those who are light media users.

Other studies also discovered that children who are frequently exposed to nearly four hours of background television each day have poor performance in cognitive and reading-related tasks.

Offer an educational media in non-electronic formats such as books, newspapers and board games. What kids gain access to today must ensure a high-quality of content and the internet does not guarantee that.

Media in non-electronic formats can, however, be controlled. They avoid the promotion of ‘spoon-feeding’ to the generation, in contrast to technological advancements; thus, enhancing not only the kids’ ability to concentrate, but their reading and social skills in the traditional way as well. Their interest in art like drawing and painting might also be discovered when presented with other media of learning.

How technology affects the emotional and overall well-being of children

Growth on the physical, intellectual and social aspect is not the only thing limited by the technology today. Children’s happiness is starting to be determined by the hours they spend on these devices, too. Kids who spend more time in the technological platform were found to have lower level of personal contentment and have been reported as feeling sadder than their non-media-obsessed counterparts.

Establish screen-free zones at home by not allowing television sets, computers and video games to be put on or brought to the children’s bedroom. Not only will this will give them sound sleep and enough time and space to rest and discover other things away from devices, but it can also provide time for the parents to reach out to their children. Reading them stories and asking about their day will help them recognize the value of happiness and comfort outside the virtual world.

Also, their room can still feel lively without gadgets. Indoor plants and mini gardens are good add-ons to keep the color alive within the bedroom for your kids’ eyes.

In another study, JAMA found that children who were exposed to the television at 29 months of age are more likely to have problems in school and poor health habits.

The first 2 years of your infant’s life is the developing stage of the brain. It is during this period that they learn and develop their interests by interacting with people and not with screens; hence, they should not be exposed to television and other entertainment media yet. The way children act towards others and their physical health have also been put on the line because of too much exposure to technology.

Not only are they less social, but they get little time for resting and physical exercise. In fact, television-watching toddlers showed a 10 percent increase in classmate victimization and 13 percent decrease in weekly activity resulting in higher BMI. Because too much time is spent in front of the television and on the computer screens, kids are held from putting a healthy physical exercise.

A fast walk in the park with them and a game around growing trees are some of the things kids would not refuse. To some households, there already exists too much technological attachment and ‘digital grounding’ might provide for a solution.

According to Dr. Hartstein, children should know what they did wrong and what it is they’re getting disciplined for, so parents must implement appropriate rules.

Whether it is a failing grade in school or bullying a classmate, when you know they have spent too much time online chatting with other people and visiting sites you’re not sure about or playing games on their tablets, set a limit. Give a certain amount of minutes or hour when that they can use such in exchange for time that they should help in the chores inside the house.

After all, the children’s interest starts at home. Parents always share in their interests.

By keeping them from too much exposure of the technological world and rather combine technology with nature and play, you can provide for them view on other things that might catch their interest like art and the sciences.

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