Technology——— Friend or Foe?
We live in the digital age, the age of computers, smartphones, iPads, Kindles, high-speed internet and many more devices. Technology is wonderous, capable of helping scientists communicate around the world to work on cures for diseases. It can help save someone’s life with the fast availability to locate and get the necessary emergency services. There’s no doubt about it, technology is a vital part of our lives today. We love our technology.
However, when we examine the ways technology is used by children, the outcome is quite the opposite. Many children are given smartphones as infants. And many more are handing their smartphones and iPads over to children to amuse them and entertain them. Or better said, to use as a babysitter. Unfortunately, parents are using these devices because they have been told they will make children smarter, and that children must know how to use technology from a young age or they will be left behind. Both of these statements are false. I am not criticizing parents for their choices, I probably would have made the same choices if I had not done research for my books and if my children were younger.
Children and Technology Simply DO NOT Mix
Studies are showing the problems associated with the use of technology. Children are becoming addicted to their devices and to the virtual world. They are withdrawing from the real world. In the virtual world, there are always people who will agree with anything they say. In the real world there are disagreements, compromises, hurt feelings, apologies, forgiveness, and empathy. In the virtual world, none of these characteristics are necessary.
Since the availability of the internet and computer devices, including smartphones the following problems have shown astronomical growth: addiction, depression, suicide, pornography, addiction to social media and video games, children having access to illegal drugs online, aggressive behavior, racism, hate speech, extremist views, sexting, child sex trafficking, and the dumbing down of our children.
If you are the parent of a young child, most likely you have not yet experienced many of the above problems. However, for parents of teens and tweens, children may be dealing with these issues without parents’ knowledge. It is important for parents to begin to set limits or to avoid the use of the internet until perhaps high school. Most parents see children on their devices and think they are learning or there is no problem. Problems exist because in many cases there are predators or pedophiles on the other side of the screen watching the moves of children. For every filter created to protect children, there is a hacker who has discovered a way around the filter. Never become secure in filters protecting your children, only you can do that.
In situations where children are required to use devices for school, be sure to monitor their activity and require devices be kept where you can observe. The latest research is showing children spend on average 9 hours a day online including school, however, only 15 minutes is attributed to homework. Children are distracted by texts, emails, social media, video games, YouTube and Tik-Tok. With all of these distractions, children are not able to focus on an unexciting assignment.
For more information of the impact of the internet on children, I have the book, Why Children Are Overdosing On Technology. There is much more information in the book, including a chapter on the Dark Net.