Despite the advent of the digital age, it is often alarming to see how children of all ages are becoming such prolific users of smart technology. The dependence on digital devices has led to several benefits; however, there are some cons to this as well.
What is smart technology?
Smart Technology (ST) devices, including tablets and smartphones, are electronic devices that can provide various functions that users need in their day-to-day undertakings, such as making phone calls, cameras, Internet access, telecommunications media, and rich software applications. ST devices have functions similar to a PC or laptop and allow users to access the Internet through their mobile phone, where most of the online activity is based on online communication (such as WhatsApp), social networks such as Instagram and Twitter, and entertainment (such as gaming and movies). The availability of these features inspires people to use these devices anytime, anywhere, and for a chosen amount of time, contributing to addiction.
Over the past decade, screen technology has continued to permeate the lives of children. During the pandemic, the online activity on children’s devices doubled. Several applications were introduced that enabled parents to monitor their children’s technology habits. While the spread of technology opens up opportunities for education and communication, its increased use poses distinctive challenges for the physical and mental health, and development of children; issues that have been heightened with the onset of the pandemic. Some issues that parents face with their children’s incessant use of technology are:
Dangers of unsupervised browsing
Both children and adults are rapidly relying on the Internet as a dependable and accurate spring of information. Thanks to the Internet, children today have access to an almost boundless amount of information and opportunities for communication. Nevertheless, there can be real risks and dangers to a child without supervision. Many online platforms provide children with separate resources such as guides, current news, and access to libraries and other valuable resources. However, the curiosity-induced urge to “click” here and there is a natural impulse in children and this can often be harmful, if not kept in check.
Luckily, many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as Cox have realized this need of their customers. Cox provides a variety of plans and packages for its customers, and some of these include the option of incorporating parental controls as well. Cox internet helps support their customer’s efforts to ensure that their kids have a safe and fun internet surfing experience. This also extends to their smart TV packages as well. If you are a single parent, or your job simply does not allow you to supervise your children all the time, then this service is definitely for you!
Other ways to help protect your children in the digital world can include:
- Limiting the amount of screen time
- Teaching children to avoid talking to unfamiliar people online
- Teaching them to never share personal information online
- Never give kids access to credit card numbers or passwords
- Teach them to come to you in case of any such issue
Emerging health issues
Excessive use of mobile devices can harm the health of children. The more they use mobile devices, the less physical activity they have. The problem is that online games are combined with snacks and replace a balanced diet. Because kids spend more time in front of these screens, usually on the couch, they spend less time outside playing, running, and burning calories. Gradually, this can lead to obesity and other issues associated with it. Technology also has the potential to affect a child’s brain development and ability to solve problems. For example, instead of using brain connections to solve a problem and find a solution, a child can rely on a device to solve problems for them. Furthermore, when children use their devices before bed, it can lead to poor sleep quality and affect their overall well-being and immune system. Not to mention, the adverse impact long screen times have on their eyesight. Staring at a computer screen for a long time can also cause discomfort, dry eyes, fatigue, headaches, blurred vision, and other symptoms of eyestrain.
The use of smart technology can increase children’s aggressive behavior in three ways. Firstly, since exposure to violent media through games or TV is associated with increased aggression, it would be expected that access to unsuitable content via technology would also be associated with violent behavior in children. Secondly, the amount of time spent on mobile technology will result in wasted time that could have been spent on developmental assistance activities. These offer better opportunities to promote self-regulation. Third, since poor self-regulatory skills can be evident as aggressive behavior, one might expect that if increased use of mobile technologies promotes poor self-regulation, aggressive behavior will also increase.
Relationships are affected
Research has shown that tech-addicted kids have lower levels of emotional skills and creativity. This greatly affects the family and reduces family time, socialization, and personal interaction. On the other hand, parents have also immersed themselves in their own technological lives instead of trying to connect with their children. It deprives the family of learning and exercising social cues, developing interpersonal relationships, communicating, and developing connections with each other.
The crux of this debate is that modern parenting should now focus on using the exclusive passions, morals, and principles of the family to make parenting decisions that result in nurturing good children and developing sturdy bonds with them. Furthermore, by learning more about the impact of technology on children, parents, educators, and healthcare professionals can develop strategies to counter its potentially negative effects. There is also the arising need for parents to be more aware of their children’s online activities and interactions, and to not take it lightly. While it is important to not micromanage and give them independence, it is equally necessary to set rules to guide appropriate usage. Moreover, it is more vital than ever to develop good relations with your children so that they feel safe discussing issues with you.