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- Technology is having a surprisingly negative impact on our children.
- Some reasons include a weakened ability to focus and recall information. Other include a growing disconnect with the outdoors.
You know too much of a good thing is bad for you.
Technology has made life easier. We can now raise kids with more helpful advice and resources than ever. However, the speed at which we’ve welcomed technology into our lives is also making it hard to understand the damaging effects of it – especially when it comes to our kids.
Negative Effects of Technology on Children
Research has been focused on studying the impact of social media on kids. Other studies focused on screentime effects. Some of them warrant our concerns.
These are what we find most surprising.
1. Kids are losing their ability to Focus and Recall information.
- Kids’ brains are now more wired to scan information than to read that information. They’re easily distracted and less focused. There’s so much information coming at them that they’ve learned to scan for relevant information rather than focusing and reading for depth.
- Studies show that people who read text uninterrupted by links and ads are better at understanding and remembering details.
- The good news is that the ability to retrieve data is becoming increasingly more important now that kids have access to the likes of Wikipedia. After all, you don’t need to memorize facts if you know where to find them at any time.
2. They’re less Self-Reflective.
- Reflection requires deep thinking and thinking requires reading and critical thought. Reading is still better than any visual media at promoting reflection and critical thinking skills.
- Kids who aren’t reading for depth will find it difficult to reflect on the things they’ve learned.
- No time to daydream. Daydreaming is imagination.
- Another surprising negative effect technology has on our children is that they lack boredom. Boredom is good for kids. It’s a time when kids process the information they learn. Kids are being bombarded with new information all day long. Boredom is a time when they can reflect on what they’ve learned and is crucial for creativity and free play.
3. Children are Losing Touch with Nature.
- Some kids would rather do chores than to go outside and play. They’d rather do indoor activities like watch TV, play with their games and toys, and read books.
- Without that desire to play outside, kids can lose their ability to appreciate nature. They lose out on the emotional and physical health benefits of unstructured outdoor play.
- Physical exercise in the outdoors is hugely beneficial for regulating mood, boosting self-esteem and for increasing creativity and focus.
- There’s also evidence that being in nature has a soothing effect on kids. This is especially helpful for those who suffer from attention deficit disorder.
4. You’re Constantly Competing With Big Social Media Companies for Your Child’s Attention
- You are competing for your children’s attention with social media companies. Social media and other kinds of technology and services for kids are always going to be attention-grabbing. These apps and technologies are designed to capture our children’s attention. They design their services to be as addictive as possible.
- It can be an uphill battle once your child forms a social media habit. These companies have spent millions employing strategies that will keep your children’s attention trained on their services. It may be a good idea to make sure this habit never forms in the first place.
5. They’re More Likely to be Socially Awkward. They May Also Be Less Independent.
- Kids are meeting up in real life less than their parents’ generation. Their social development is impacted by the fact that they’re simply less practiced at face to face social interactions.
- Some other negative effects of technology on children’s social development include feeling lonely and left out, especially for kids who spend a large part of their free time on social media.
- Kids also crave less independence than their parents’ generation because they no longer have to leave the house to socialize with friends.
- The instinct to leave the house to find a parent-free zone is gone. Now, they can socialize without even having to put on their shoes. No commute and no pre-arranged time to meet up with friends. It’s an extreme convenience.
6. Kids Are More Likely to Get Sick.
- Kids are spending more time indoors. This means less physical exercise.
- Physical exercise, fresh air, and sunshine are essential for maintaining health. Vitamin D helps us fight infections. It prevents us from suffering from colds and the flu and helps the body boost our immune systems.
7. Screen time Prevents Kids From Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
- Screen time, especially in the evening, can delay sleep time and can shorten our children’s sleep duration.
- Screens are stimulating. There are endless funny videos and exciting games. Unfortunately, none of these help prepare our kids for good shut-eye.
- The light from our screens can also disturb our natural sleep-wake cycle making it hard to get proper rest. Considering that good sleep is crucial to regulating mood and appetite, as well as every other cognitive ability, not getting enough sleep can mean that our kids are more likely to experience mood swings and have shortened attention spans during the day.
- Even with the help of blue light screen filters, any screen time near bedtime is not a good idea.
Technology isn’t all bad when it comes to raising kids though… in fact, it’s fantastic for teaching kids.
The positive effects of technology on children are numerous. So before you ban your kids from screens, take note that just because some of the things above can happen, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will.
There are so many sophisticated apps and tools that help us raise and teach kids. There are countless educational games, tv shows and toys that teach kids complex concepts as they grow up. Not to mention how easy it is now to find an answer to any of our parenting questions.
Technology is also great in helping our teachers incorporate their lessons in the classroom. They make learning more efficient with software systems and more fun with enriched media.
Tips for Helping Your Kids Use Technology Responsibly:
If you have young kids, it’s a good idea to filter content. You can keep them from stumbling onto information that may be too mature for them. You can take a look at the built-in settings of your computer and browser or look for a device that does this for you throughout the home like this parental control and filter device from Disney.
You can also try software like Net Nanny that help you with parental control settings. It blocks apps and filters content. You can even keep an eye on what your kids are browsing if you are so inclined.
Set a Time Limit
Establish a healthy time limit. There are built-in time limits on some mobile phones as well as tools that will help you with setting a time limit throughout your household. Rules and restrictions, especially with technology, need to be enforced so that kids understand that life doesn’t revolve around technology, that it’s just there to make life more convenient and enrich their already full and fun lives.
Educate & Talk To Your Kids About Technology
Help your child understand what technology is and the pros and cons of using technology. Show them different examples of websites they might come upon.
Guide them. Talk to them about social media and how pictures they see online don’t always reflect reality. Give them the framework for identifying what they see online.
Teach them to seek information from credible and trustworthy sites. Show them examples of misinformation.
Pick up a Blue Light Filter Screen Protector
If you or your kids have to be around a screen in the evening, it’s a good idea to pick up a blue light filter screen protector. These help make the light emitted from your devices less disruptive to your sleep and wake cycle.
- This blue light filter screen protector for 23″-24″ inch screens here.
- For iPhones, you can give this one a try.
- If you’re like me, and have a habit of looking at your iPad and other devices at night for recipes and light reading, then check out these blue light filters for older iPads, the iPad Pro, and the iPad Mini.
Be their Model and Encourage Them To Go Outside
Kids take on the habits of the adults in their lives, so be their role model. Go outside!
Make it your lifestyle choice. They’ll see your enthusiasm for spending time outdoors and develop the same attitude.
Being a Tech-Literate Family (Digital Literacy)
Technology raises our quality of life. It is something that we have to learn to incorporate into our lives in a healthy way.
Our goal should be to find a balance in our technology usage and to help our kids do the same. We can teach them how to navigate their lives around technology by educating them about it and helping them adopt healthy usage habits.
What do you think? Leave me a comment.