Technology has a significant impact on the growth and development of children, given the interaction they have with tech tools. Parenting has been an issue due to technological advancement over the years as children become engaged with technology. Technology has an immense reach in people’s and children’s lives. In over 96% of American households, technology is present in one way or another (Gottschalk, 2019). Each of these households has at least a television or a personal computer (Gottschalk, 2019). An average of 8 hours is spent by kids aged 8 to 10 accessing various media a day, while the older ones pay close to 11 hours (Gottschalk, 2019). Children tend to spend more time with technology than they do in school. Constant access to the internet, electronic devices, and other modern technology have a detrimental impact on children and overall psychological development.
Today technology is almost everywhere, making it accessible to many, irrespective of their age. Therefore, it is nearly impossible to come across someone without a technological device. Children as young as three years today have access to smartphones, tablets, and computers (Druin, 2009). They also know how to navigate through them without any distress. People’s lives are surrounded by technology, and children use them at home or school. However, if not adequately guided by adults, children can be significantly impacted negatively by technology. It can affect their general health, concentration, and development of social relations (Gottschalk, 2019). Other adverse effects include increased risk and lack of privacy, risk of depression, obesity, social interaction issues, bullying, and falling grades.
Social media use and screen time among children have been extensively linked to the predominance of mental health issues. The influence of technology affects their growth and development as well as social skills. According to Gottschalk (2019), internet addiction has become a widespread issue, especially among teenagers. It has been linked to loneliness, low self-esteem, and depression, sometimes regarded as symptoms when diagnosing mental illnesses (Gottschalk, 2019). Studies have shown that higher levels of technology use among children are interrelated with increased risk of depression and reduced physical activity.
Impact on Social Skills
The majority of children are nowadays shy, withdrawn, and socially awkward due to the increased use of technology. Social skills can only be developed through practice; hence, children might not develop them if technology is in the way (Staff, 2019). As kids use their phones more and more, they become addicted to them. As a result, it is relatively complex for them to avoid using these devices. They spend most of their time on electronic devices, with minimal being spent with family and friends. The majority of the children grow up playing video games, accessing inappropriate websites, and on social media applications like Instagram. Most children spend a lot of time online, which has a significant impact on their relationship with parents and peers (Druin, 2009). Improving several social skills becomes impossible since they do not play or exercise outside.
The overuse of technological devices can be harmful to children’s overall health. They tend to gain weight because children spend most of their time indoors accessing the internet rather than playing and running outside. Apart from playing video games and watching, they combine this with snacking. Instead of playing outside and burning off calories, they are mostly just relaxed indoors, sitting on the couch. Habits that only involve technological use and no exercise are nurtured since they spend most of their time on phones and tablets rather than playing outside (Nechtem, 2021). Technology can also affect a child’s problem-solving skills by being over-dependent on it rather than using their brains. The more time children use technology devices, the less they spend engaging in physical activities. The time they spend on these devices should be managed and monitored by their parents, as problems can only be prevented if balance is achieved.
Lower Attention Span and Reduced Sleep Quality
The ability to focus is greatly affected by technology’s reduced attention span in children. Technology offers instant response and instant gratification, and it moves faster. Children are prone to this since they interact with technology, affecting their attention spans as they rely heavily on it (Yienger, 2016). Electronic devices make it hard for them to concentrate and make it easier for distractions to take over. A research study in Canada showed that the average attention span reduced from 12 seconds to 8 seconds in children and young adults since technology use increased (Nechtem, 2021). Teaching children patience has become very hard given the advancements and accessibility of these devices. One way of combating this harmful vice is by limiting technology while children are focused on other tasks.
A significant number of children use most of their time on phones or other devices and sleep for very few hours. The brain can be seriously damaged because of a lack of sleep. Talking to them will be a better way of educating them on the dangers lack of sleep causes to their brain and overall health. Parents need to work on reducing screen time and help their children improve sleep quality. Parents with kids between five and eight years need to place consistent limits on technology use, while for kids below five, the screen time should be limited to two hours (Gottschalk, 2019). With these limitations, the children will be able to get enough sleep and prevent unnecessary illnesses due to brain fatigue.
Cybersecurity is a significant element in today’s technology though it is not perfect. Hackers can utilize technology still identify and harass children online. As technology advances, other harmful vices, such as theft, harassment, and privacy, also emerge (Impact, 2019). Children are the primary victims of such issues. Browsing online can also be very dangerous as we often come across harmful things such as viruses, phishing, and other unhealthy things mimicking advertisements. Most adults can avoid them, but children cannot and, as a result, may become victims. Children can navigate online searching for everything, but with the proper monitoring, they will not get access to harmful websites or meet dangerous people they just met online (Nechtem, 2021). One way of safeguarding the security of children online is by installing internet-filtering tools to select the content they can access and use parental controls.
Those children spending much time with technology on education-related things see their grades hit. Technology’s changes have made students struggle with reading and writing at home. Less time is spent on homework since much time is wasted on technology usage. Research shows that when kids get too preoccupied with technology for entertainment purposes, they do not engage in complex thinking or learning (Staff, 2019). As a result, their academic performance deteriorates. One recent study indicated that 23% of the light users failed exams compared to 53% of the heavy users (Yienger, 2016). The most suitable remedy to this menace is balancing the time spent on books and the one spent on these devices. Guardians and parents have to be responsible and make sure their children do not overspend time on their devices.
Risk of Depression
More media use leads to depression, thus affecting a child’s mental health. Children who spend more time using media report issues related to mental health so often. If not adequately addressed, it can lead to suicide (Impact, 2019). Cyberbullying is a significant concern in this 21st century. Children and teens use technology to blackmail and bully other kids without meeting them. It is becoming more popular among small children and especially the youth. Just an hour of staring at a screen without moving can be enough to trigger depression (Impact, 2019). The consequence of this is that they will now become less emotionally stable, less curious, and less able to finish tasks. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends an hour or two for entertainment purposes per day and even discourages media use for those below two years.
If used correctly, technology has its benefits for growth and development, but it also has its share of disadvantages if not used appropriately. Some effects have significant consequences, like the emergence of obesity due to lack of play. Spending much time on media can also lead to eye problems that might affect the child until adulthood. To reduce the time spent on technology, an adult needs to engage the child in arts and crafts, games and playing outside to prevent them from relying on technology as their only source of entertainment. However, the child will depend on technology if the adult relies on it to engage with the child. We live in a technologically advancing era where children are exposed to different devices each day. Parents’ task is to groom them to become valuable resources rather than the victims of technological advancement.
Druin, A. (2009). Mobile technology for children. Morgan Kaufmann Publishers/Elsevier.
Gottschalk, F. (2019). Impacts of technology use on children: Exploring literature on the brain, cognition, and well-being. Technology & Innovation, 195(1), 06-31.
Impact. (2019). Effects of Technology on Kids Today and Tomorrow. Western Governors University.
Nechtem, C. (2021). The Impact of Technology on Children. Cerritos.edu.
Staff, T. (2019). Technology’s impact on childhood brain, language development. WRVO Public Media.
Yienger, M. (2016). Too Much Tech Harms Reading Retention in Young Children. Inquiries Journal.