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12 Things That Happened To The Kids Growing Up In The Digital Age…

12 Things That Happened To The Kids Growing Up In The Digital Age…

Kids growing up now have great fun and learning experiences with new technology such as iPods, iPads, cell phones, skype, and podcasts. But, alarmingly, they are missing out on a whole range of learning, social interaction, physical activities, and emotional intelligence skills. Let me tell you what has happened to these kids. You cannot say you were not warned!

1. Kids are not playing outside anymore

More and more children are playing inside and are attached to their devices, computers, and video games. The UK government has got alarmed about the drop in the numbers of kids playing normal childhood games in the open air.

They have invested over £300 million to encourage teachers to do more sport in schools. They also want more kids to play games like hide-and-seek and hopscotch. The benefits are enormous as kids will be healthier, happier and less prone to obesity.

At the moment, about 33% of boys are not getting the recommended daily hour of exercise. The Play England site has loads of ideas on how to reconnect children with nature.

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2. Kids are not learning through face-to-face interaction

How does a baby learn to express and judge emotion? How do they start to learn language? They do it by watching their parents’ facial expressions and they begin to become social creatures, acquiring essential skills which will be vital when they start playgroups and schools. But guess what is happening? The parents are increasingly absorbed in their electronic devices and cannot be bothered to even look, smile or coo at their own children! Watch parents in a café and you will see what I mean.

The alarm was raised by several paediatricians. One of these, Dr. Jenny Radesky, actually carried out a study of 55 groups of parents while they were eating at fast food joints. She and her researchers spent a whole summer doing this. She does not claim that the study has been done scientifically but has just observed what is going on. Needless to say, she is urging parents to put away their smartphones and give their children some attention. It will be vital for their development.

3. Parent-kid relationships are negatively affected

The digital parents are opting out of parenting and this is unfair to the children. The use of devices was also having a very bad effect on the way the parents actually interacted with their kids. There was a lot of negative, harsh interaction when it actually took place. It also made parents more cranky.

This is mentioned by Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson of Seattle Children’s Hospital in her blog. She recommends that making boundaries for use of digital devices is very important, so that real parenting can be done. She also says that both kids and parents should take digital breaks together.

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4. Kids’ reading ability may be affected

There is not much research on this. But one initial study done by the Schugars of West Chester University suggests that the kids reading comprehension could be negatively affected. Their study showed that the kids who read paper books were better at comprehension than those who were using only ebooks. Kids on ebooks were inclined to skip the text and concentrate on all the interactive visual features such as popups. The best solution would be to encourage kids to read more paper books.

5. Kids have never played board games

Kids are online most of the time. Figures show that this has jumped by 38% since 2009. Whatever happened to those board games? Look at all the benefits a child gets, when you play together:

  • Child learns vocabulary, counting, math, reading
  • You can bond with him or her
  • Child learns about turn-taking, winning and losing
  • She or he can gain confidence, builds self esteem
  • Satisfies competitive urges
  • Increases attention span and focus
  • Helps concentration

While many games and apps on smartphones are also good at building some learning skills, they can never replace the human interaction.

6. Kids do not know what real friendship means

When we grew up, we had friends, real friends. Virtual friends did not exist. Look at today’s teems who can count up to a few hundred friends on Facebook. The problem is that they have never seen most of them and they only know them very superficially through a virtual friend of a friend. Staying connected is great and today’s teens send an average of 3,000 texts a month.

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But it seems that the concept of friendship and intimacy is being irrevocably changed and this will impact relationships later on. Studies at UCLA show that digital bonding is considerably less than real face-to-face interaction.

7. Kids are losing their creativity

Trevor Baylis, the famous inventor of the wind up radio, fears that children are not getting the hands on experience that he got when he was a boy. This is affecting their creativity. He learned about putting things together by playing with a Meccano set or by building model aeroplanes and so on. Few kids now never get their hands on games like this. Everything is done for them.

8. Kids are not learning empathy

Being tolerant, caring and controlling your emotions are life skills that will serve you well. But the digital era kids are not learning any of these skills at all. You cannot empathize with a device, at least, not yet! The best way is to play with other kids and to learn about sharing, turn-taking and giving. No, I don’t think there’s an app for that yet!

9. Kids’ scores in math and reading are not increasing

Look at what is going on in the Kyrene School District. They have invested over $33 million on updating classroom technology. Students get to create Facebook pages based on Shakespearian characters. Some choose song tracts and rapper tunes to match the mood of a character in a play or novel. It is all innovative and very exciting. The only problem is that the test scores in math and reading in this school district have remained just the same as in 2005 when there was no high tec in the schools.

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10. Kids are getting no input on values and attitudes

The lack of real social interaction with parents and peers means that there is less and less time spent on teaching core values such as tolerance, kindness, honesty, diligence and respect. The devices are great for some learning activities but the parent-child relationship is becoming tenuous.

11. Kids are losing sleep

Dr. Kimberley Young, Director of the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery, has warned that children may lose track of time while they are online. This has serious consequences for doing household tasks and chores. It also affects their mood and they become irritable when they are forced to switch off. One of the most serious aspects is loss of sleep because this impacts on schoolwork the following day.

12. Kids need supervision

Parents should be on the alert for any sort of online addiction. They themselves have to set the example and make sure that there is a balance between more traditional games and online activities. A happy balance can be achieved with these tips:

  • Use Skype together to bond with grandparents
  • Play video games together
  • Negotiate digital break times where both parents and kids switch off all devices
  • Encourage outdoor activities when possible

Digital media is here to stay. They are great learning and entertainment tools but they need to be used with caution and not at the expense of real face-to-face interaction.

Featured photo credit: mzacha via morguefile.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on November 5, 2019

How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

Here are some tips for installing the habit of continuous learning:

1. Always Have a Book

It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

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Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

3. Get More Intellectual Friends

Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

4. Guided Thinking

Albert Einstein once said,

“Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

5. Put it Into Practice

Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

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If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

6. Teach Others

You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

7. Clean Your Input

Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

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8. Learn in Groups

Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

9. Unlearn Assumptions

You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

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11. Start a Project

Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

12. Follow Your Intuition

Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

13. The Morning Fifteen

Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

14. Reap the Rewards

Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

15. Make Learning a Priority

Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

More About Continuous Learning

Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

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