Having grown up in the age of video games, today’s generation believes that the true meaning of play is to enter their iPads and beat the greatest gamers! Are those born in the 1990s of the same opinion? These folks recall how they used to anxiously wait for summer vacations to pack their luggage and travel to Grandma’s house? However, kids today have a different experience. The food court, roller rink, the town pool, the basketball court and the neighbourhood hangout have all been supplanted by virtual venues accessible via apps and the internet. Instagram, Facebook, Snap Chat, WhatsApp and the most recent addition, Club House, are all driving the wheels of communication and socialisation.
Almost every week, a new gadget or an app is released that you feel compelled to use, or a fresh ‘item’ that occupies even more hours that an individual can always spend doing more constructive things. Most of us have been brought up with new technology constantly emerging by our side. It’s quite likely that any toddler will be able to unlock a smartphone or tablet and make some in-app purchases within seconds of being given one. A result of the technology boom, youngsters are becoming computer savvy at a very early stage in their lives. The term “digital natives” isn’t thrown around lightly for children these days. As it is becoming increasingly unusual to see youngsters and teenagers without a digital gadget in their hands. The phrase “too much television will destroy your brain” is one that many people recall hearing as a kid. Too much of anything may be harmful, but when it comes to children’s use of technology, we as a society should be more concerned about how it will affect their conduct in the long run.
As per Ofcom, young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 spent more than 27 hours per week online. New technology gadgets such as tablets, phones, laptops, etc. have made it simpler than ever to connect to the internet. This is anticipated to rise during the next decade. No one can deny the importance of technology in our everyday lives. However, it prompts the issue of whether technology is having a negative impact on the kids. Electronic gadget overuse may hinder a child’s social skills development. Included in this is the capacity to create real relationships, accept responsibility for acts, exhibit excellent manners, use polite language, regulate emotions and anger, obey verbal instructions, and develop empathy for others.
One of the paradoxes of young people’s lives is that, although they are spending far more time under the same roof as their parents, today’s teenagers can scarcely be claimed to be closer to their parents than their forebears were. Even while two-thirds of young folks believe that online communication is simpler than face-to-face connection, more than a third believe that modern technology has an alienating effect on their life. Additionally, teens who use social media late at night could be jeopardising the quality of their sleep and raising the risk of sadness and anxiety. When children and adolescents are exposed to electronics before bedtime, they are twice as likely to sleep poorly at nighttime, according to a research in JAMA Pediatrics. There’s also an association between inadequate sleep and having access to a media device prior to bedtime, even if the item was not actively utilised. In general, kids under the age of 13 need between 11 and 14 hours of sleep per night, based on their age and maturity level. Sleep is crucial for youngsters because it promotes development, improves heart health, impacts weight, increases attention span, and even enhances learning. In contrast, if youngsters don’t receive enough sleep each night, these traits might be harmed.
An excessive reliance on gadgets can be hazardous to children’s health since they become less active the more they use them. And when youngsters select screen time for physical exercise, they tend to combine it with thoughtless eating and other bad behaviours. To make matters worse, youngsters are spending less and less time outside as result of spending more time in front of screens. Weight gain and other health issues may result from these practices over time. Vision problems, distortion of the skeletal structure of the body, neck pain, overstrain, arm, hand, finger numbness are but a few problems associated with the use of digital technology. Youngsters who use electronics excessively report continuous bodily sensations of “trembling,” increased respiration and heart rate, and a general feeling of uneasiness. In addition, we may argue that a children’s physical development is hampered when he or she is immobilised by electronic gadgets, which decreases the time that should be dedicated to activities that promote muscular growth, such as walking, jogging, leaping, and playing physical games.
Constantly using computers, cellphones and tablets can lead to distractions and poor attention. In addition to affecting children’s academic achievement, technology has a number of other detrimental consequences on them. The cause of such issues is the extreme unconscious use of technology, rather than the technology itself. However, youngsters are unaware that utilising digital technology is a choice. The ONS recently revealed fresh statistics indicating that youngsters preferred to socialise via Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat instead of face-to-face. To escape difficult or bad emotions, some young people use technology and screen time. Most mental health experts agree on the importance of emotion regulation and that interfering with it during infancy and adolescence can lead to anxiety and depression. Aside from that, screens are a great way to distract children from dull or complicated tasks, like schooling, which can lead to concentration problems. An attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnosis is more likely to be made on youngsters who spend at least two hours a day staring at a screen, according to a Canadian study.
According to Oxford University’s Internet Institute, social media makes youth increasingly selfish. We all know that youngsters have a more expansive imagination than adults. As a result, individuals are more susceptible to the information they encounter. Children may be exposed to disturbing aspects in the movies, cartoons, or games that they watch and play . Children who are unable to distinguish between the actual and the imaginary might be subjected to undesirable conditions such as dread of being alone, nightmares, and the inability to go to the bathroom alone, etc. The same is true when kids watch or play violent movies or games. To prevent harmful emotions from piling up, children should have access to a safe and secure internet environment.
Given that the technology that youngsters are engaged in are typically interconnected to the Internet, we must be mindful of potential external risks. Children may be subjected to harassment and cyberbullying in games and applications with online communication choices. Adults who are malevolent can abuse them. Malicious people might once again get personal information about a youngster or his family and worse. Privacy is an alien concept to teens and youngsters, who have grown up in a technological environment. As important as cybersecurity is today, it is not without its flaws. It is possible for cybercriminals to take identities and harass youngsters with the use of technology. Stealing, privacy concerns, harassment and more are on the rise as a result of technological advancements.
Children and adults may both benefit from learning how to navigate the technological world, despite the fact that it can be a challenge. Keeping in mind that technology is still in its infancy means there haven’t been any long-term research on the impact of digital technology on child development. As long as kids and adults are aware of the possible dangers of overusing technology as well as the repercussions of overusing it, they may be at ease and get more out of the technology they use.
– Uttara Jantwal
Picture Credits: heavy.com