There is no denying the digitization of the world. People do everything from banking to socializing online or through mobile networks. While the primary goal of technological development is to assist humanity, one must begin to question whether its execution is as noble and whether too much exposure to a system rife with regulatory obstacles and concerns is causing psychological harm, especially to children.
With their developing brains, hormones, and social skills, the youth count on the example of others to help them define their role and responsibility in society; unfortunately, much of the example given to the young stems from the internet, often from the various video or social networking platforms. The goal of parents, then, in the digital age is to understand how technology is shaping the young and how it might be inhibiting correct social and personal development.
How Can Technology Affect Children's Social Skills
Before diving into the possible adverse effects of technology, it is necessary to highlight its usefulness in social development. Many people, including children and teens, express how positive and respectful online interactions, through group chats and social network sites, make them feel more connected to people they know.
Children and teens who have social anxiety disorders might also feel more comfortable developing the necessary skills to communicate in the real world by first practicing in forums and online support groups. Technology, at its core, is most often used to connect people positively; unfortunately, because of a lack of regulations and established global social constructs, not all interaction with technology is positive or leads to stronger social connections.
Negative Effects of Technology on Children
While technology can lead to positive interactions and connections, it is not all good news. Because children are developing, technology can lead to social problems and health issues, including:
- Poor in-person communication skills
- Low attention span
- Risk of depression
- Falling grades
- Bullying (victim or aggressor)
Attention & Imagination
When reading was the focus of education and entertainment, children developed sustained focus and the capacity to hold onto a large amount of information. Reading also encouraged creativity and imagination to turn words on a page into visuals in the mind. Technology changed everything.
Technology forces people to scan and select information rapidly, efficiently. While that might seem like a benefit, you never get something without a cost. The malleable brains of children mean they learn and adapt to their environment. Since most children are more exposed to technology than books, their brains become influenced by the new norm, meaning there is less need to slowly process large amounts of data or develop complex visualizations to remember it.
That does not mean children are incapable of focus and imagination. It only means that parents need to work harder to ensure their kids experience the beauty of the world beyond their computer, tablet, or cell phone screens.
Tips To Limit Technology Use
As a parent, you don’t want to make your child sad or upset, but it is necessary to place boundaries when it comes to technology. There are at least five ways to encourage tech-free time.
- Don’t put a TV or computer in your child’s room
- Place a time limit on use
- Allow one show or one level of a game
- Turn it off during social events or family time
- Find alternative uses for time (Reading, board games, walks, etc.)
How To Encourage Healthy Social Development
Encouraging healthy social development is not as complicated as it might seem. You want to talk to your children, establish routines, encourage outdoor and team play, setup times for peer interactions. Social development is about healthy and positive exposure.
Technology is a useful tool, but it should not be the only tool your children depend on for social and educational interactions. A healthy mind requires time away from the screen to interact with the world.