Ugh, technology. My arch nemesis when it comes to parenting, well other people’s parenting. No I’m not judging you, I understand why you do it, but as a parent and educator I have to say this — I thoroughly dislike the heavy use of technology for our children, especially those under 5. Yes, I know there are some benefits, but I believe hands down that the negatives definitely out way the pros. As the technology use (tv, movies, iPhone, iPads, games) increases, I am seeing younger and younger children engaged in screens and I am becoming concerned with what our world will look like as children become more and more dependent on them.
Lets look at a few of the big, research based, negatives of technology use in children:
- Children, and adolescents for that matter, have a lack of imagination and creativity. When we are constantly bombarded with predetermined things, it does not allow for children’s minds to be creative on their own. When they are given a storyline and characters there is no need for imagination. Play is where imagination and creativity are fostered!
- It has also been found that children suffer from shorter attention spans due to the fast paced life that is technology. Everything we watch is constantly changing — last I read every five seconds there is a new scene change or new camera angle so that way our brains don’t get bored (how sad is this, we don’t know how to be bored anymore!).
- This is a big one, children are not able to entertain themselves. Watching a show, playing a game, watching someone else unwrap a gift (how is this even enjoyable?!), these are ways for children to be entertained, so when it comes time for a long car ride, or a wait in the doctors office, children are unable to just sit and wait or engage in some sort of make believe play. They need to be entertained. This is a big problem. Again children don’t know how to feel bored and when they do they don’t know how to rectify the situation without a screen.
- Children have difficulties interacting with others, or they are lacking in their social skills. They don’t know how to initiate a conversation with others or engage in small talk — they prefer to stare at the screen. Umm, how are they going to hold a job in the future?!
- Obesity has continued to increase over the past decade, one of the reasons being that children are engaged in screens rather than playing outdoors (this has led to the idea of nature deficit disorder, I will talk about this eventually!).
- Young children (under 2) who watch a lot of television or use handheld devices are seen to have a delay in language. This is large in part due to the fact that children are watching and not actually fully engaged, their brain is on autopilot, and as we know learning happens through active engagement and participation!
- Lastly, and probably the most important one for me, is that children have been found to be lacking in their emotional skills. They have discovered through research that this is in large part due to technology. Children, and everyone else for that matter, are becoming desensitized, and are unable to feel empathy for others. They have actually found that there is a part in our brain that controls empathy and that section of the brain is being turned off when on social media! This is very troubling. In the book titled, UnSelfie by, Michele Borba, she found that adolescents are 40% less empathetic than they were 30 years ago. This makes my heart ache! What are we doing parents?! Creating a generation of young narcissistic adults who don’t know how to express kindness and understanding for others. So sad.
Ok, technology use can be good, like the use of FaceTime to connect with others a child may not see often, but other than that too often I see parents use it as a babysitter and that’s not ok. Think back to before screens — what did we do, what did our parents do?! They seemed to survive, right? So I think we need to do better parents. I think we need to make sure that the next generation is not suffocated with technology and lacking in so many important life skills! It is never too late to start getting rid of the heavy technology use.
If you want to know more, watch this TedTalk on why screen use is taking over the lives of parents too and how it makes us feel:
I’m going on 2 years of no technology for my son and it has been glorious! Has it been hard work, absolutely, but he will thank me when he is older and able to hold a conversation with others, have an extraordinary imagination, and express empathy!
Breathing out the technology,
P.S. If you have any topic suggestions, or have any questions, please let me know by commenting or emailing me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: Not everything I do with my child will work for you and your family; every child and family is unique, so please keep this in mind when you are reading.