Kids need more than technology
In the 21st century, we have all kinds of incredible technology at our fingertips. For the majority of our history, the human race couldn’t even dream of such advancements. A person today can have a video-call with someone on the other side of the globe, while 500 years ago, people still believed the world to be flat. Even in the past 20 years, technology has advanced exponentially. This explosion of digital technology may have amazing benefits, but it might also come with side effects—with the short time that all this technology has existed, it’s hard to know exactly what impact technology will have on a deeper level, and this is especially true for the children growing up in the new, digital world. What happens when you mix toddlers and technology?
With most of the American population hooked on their phones, pads and pods, it shouldn’t be a surprise that babies and young children in general also like looking at the flashing lights. What’s interesting is just how easily these young kids can get ahold of technology. Parents generally don’t mind letting their children borrow their phones and don’t seem to mind buying phones for their kids at younger and younger ages. Like most teenagers and their parents, many young children are becoming more and more enthralled by technology; but unlike their older counterparts, their brains are still developing.
Human senses aren’t designed to handle the constant stimulation of flashing texts and screaming news bulletins; there is such a thing as overstimulation. Sensory overload can be damaging enough to adults, but for young children, the effects can be much more severe: ADHD, anxiety and sleep disorders have been connected to technology use at a young age, according to studies done at the Child Health Institute of the University of Washington.
If little kids spend all of their time staring at a piece of technology, they’ll have less time to spend playing outside, reading books, interacting with others face to face and make-believing, which are essential parts of childhood. Getting hooked on technology at an early age has been shown (by research done by neuroscientists and groups such as the Child Mind Institute in New York) to have a negative effect on children’s social skills, such as initiating conversations, meeting strangers and even understanding body language; ignoring other children for an iPad isn’t going to teach a kid how to make friends.
The real problem, of course, isn’t the kids or the technology; it’s the parents. When parents spend all of their time on phones and computers, their children learn to do the same. While these parents remember a time before smart phones, their children were born into a completely digital world. What will be the effects of that? While little phrases of motherly advice like “go play outside” might sound like something worth ignoring, the effects of technology on the next generation is something that we can’t afford to ignore. The kids that steal their mothers’ phones, swipe the screens and stare hungrily at the blinking lights are going to inherit the world someday. Shouldn’t someone be paying attention?