As I watch my 10 year old son socialize with his friends I notice that he is very similar to me, when I was his age. He plays and enjoys himself either on the soccer field or at home playing board games and occasionally squabbles with his sister. I observe that he and his friends are ambitious in their own ways, trying out new things, enjoying school trips and interacting at school, socializing in the ‘real world’.
When I compare his childhood with mine the biggest difference obviously has been the addition, I would rather say invasion of the technology elements in his life. But I am convinced that these element – robotics for kids, gadgets like video games and access to internet just adds to his mental development, provided it is regulated.
The required regulations and moderation can be ensured by setting ground rules – regarding the form of technology and the time they have access to these forms of entertainment and fun. Even Steve Jobs, the Apple icon was tech-averse as far his kids were concerned; he said “We limit how much technology our kids use at home”. More importantly their access needs to be monitored as un-monitored online access has the potential danger of children viewing unsuitable material or forming inappropriate connections. Unregulated usage also leads to decreased physical activity and has be proven as a major factor of child obesity.
With controlled exposure these tech environment and gadgets actually can increase their social skills. They can meet up other children with similar interests across the world and engage with a larger group of people both virtually and in real life. But this tech age has certainly brought in new kinds social pressures on children. Through cyber-socializing the malice of cyber-bullying has emerged which is spreading amongst school kids. But again this can be controlled by regulating and monitoring children’s online activity.
According to Jim Taylor of Psychology Today magazine technology can be both beneficial and harmful to different ways in which children think. Technology is wiring their brain very differently from the way brains of earlier generations are wired. The rise of the Internet is strengthening their ability to scan information rapidly and efficiently while books trained the brain to be focused and imaginative.
The internet opens up a vast world of knowledge and information that can help them improve their educational attainment. Technology also provides entertainment – it offers a world of possibilities to a child at their finger tips – it offers inspiration, can stimulate imagination, and help children explore the world in a second. When children are interacting with technology they are thinking, reading, analyzing, creating opinions and using their brains.
According to a research presented in a special issue of Developmental Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association (APA) there are other positive factors for children using the internet. This research found that online interactions provide essential social support for isolated adolescents. But on the other hand online forums also encourage self-injurious behavior. The online community actually bring together children with self-injurious behavior and encourages that behavior. On the flip side the internet is a good educational medium for hard-to-reach populations and its access actually improved their academic performance when it was provided to them for 30 minutes per day.
It is evident that technology is having an affect on kids but it is for parents to supervise children’s tech related activities and present them appropriate alternatives of STEM toys, robot toys, video games and websites to make sure that the effects are positive and beneficial.
2 hours per day screen time – Recommended by American Academy of Pediatrics for children up to 18 years of age
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