There’s no denying we live in a digital age. With a click of a button, we can access any bit of information ever known to humanity. With another click, we can end up wasting an hour of our day watching cats play piano. What I’m trying to say is that the prevalence of technology today is a double-edged sword.
While it’s easy enough for adults to become consumed by their iPads and smartphones, the real danger is raising children who are downright addicted to electronic screens. Even Steve Jobs, who invented all the best gadgets currently in your home, didn’t allow his children to use the iPad.
Others in the tech industry follow that same idea, sending their children to schools that strictly forbid the use of technology, instead encouraging face-to-face interaction and creative problem solving.
Though it might seem hypocritical for parents who utilize technology on a daily basis at their jobs to put a limit on their children’s use of the same technology, it’s hard to argue with the fact that using technology too much results in:
1. A lack of creativity
When a young child plugs into the World Wide Web, everything is done for him. He can watch a cartoon, play a game, or get answers to his homework questions. If children are taught they can simply go to Google and get an answer to a question, they’ll more than likely stop trying to figure things out on their own. Especially if getting done quicker means they can go back to watching cartoons even sooner.
While it’s important to teach children how to use the Internet as a learning tool, it shouldn’t be the only method they use to solve problems. If they learn to rely too much on technology for answers, they’ll be completely lost when the technology is unavailable to them.
2. A lack of curiosity and passion
Along with a lack of curiosity, children who rely too much on technology will lose their passion for learning.
Remember before the Internet, when you wanted to know something, you actually had to spend a decent amount of time looking it up? You had to go to the library, find the right section, then the right book, then the right page…it took time! But when you finally got your answer, the entire experience left you feeling fulfilled. And that knowledge became part of your long-term memory.
Now, if you need to know something, you can look it up immediately; and you’ll most likely forget it by the end of the day. Children need to understand that learning is a process. If we don’t limit their access to technology, they’ll never truly love to learn.
3. A lack of patience
Since information, communication, and entertainment are now available at the push of a button, we’re becoming less and less patient when we have to spend time waiting. I know I’m guilty of closing a webpage because it didn’t load within ten seconds. But I’m not the same way with most other aspects of life, because I know certain things take time (like cooking a good meal, or driving to the beach).
However, our children are growing up in a world filled with instant gratification. If they get too used to things being automated and happening “on demand,” they’ll have a hard time adjusting to the real world as they grow into young adults.
On the other hand, if parents limit their children’s use of technology and place ground rules around when and where they can use their iPad or laptop, they’ll learn much more than they would given free reign of the electronics in the household.
4. Lack of exercise
It doesn’t take much to prove that sitting in front of a screen all day results in a sedentary lifestyle. And it will eventually become a vicious cycle that will be incredibly hard to break the older your child gets.
Children need to exercise every day. If parents don’t limit their children’s technology usage, they’ll spend all day sitting around the house, making up excuse after excuse as to why they can’t go outside and run around for a bit. Unfortunately, a lack of exercise at a young age could lead to exacerbated health problems as they grow.
5. Decreased test scores
The London School of Economics conducted a study of 130,000 school children, and found that test scores increase when schools put a limit on technology. Across the board, scores rose 6.4% when phones were banned in high schools.
Underachieving students actually faced a 14% increase in scores when their phones were disallowed in school. One of the main contributing factors to such a drastic increase is that students were no longer distracted on a minute-by-minute basis by their phone vibrating with constant Facebook updates and incoming text messages.
Again, while electronics can serve a purpose in the classroom as a learning tool, if used incorrectly, they can be a huge disruption to the learning process.
6. Lack of human connection
Another study was recently conducted by researchers at UCLA which focused on the use of technology and its effects on children’s ability to socialize face-to-face. Two groups of children were studied: one was a group of sixth grade students who were enrolled in a week-long educational camp which did not have any access to electronic devices, and the other group of sixth graders were kids who were left to their own devices, as it were.
After the week had ended, each group was shown pictures of people’s faces as they exhibited different emotions. The children who attended the technology-free camp performed significantly better at identifying the correct emotion shown. They were much more adept at picking out facial and non-verbal cues than their cohort who had spent the week using technology as they pleased.
If we want our children to understand the importance of communicating with each other in a personable manner, we need to begin by limiting their access to technology.
Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm8.staticflickr.com