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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 May 21, 2019

13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away

13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away

Creating your productivity ritual — a routine that helps you to maintain a peak level of energy can get you the best out of your days.

Part of creating your productivity routine involves removing activities that drain you (what I call “kryptonites”), and that includes your bad habits.

Like it or not, bad habits are bad for you — mentally, physically, emotionally and even socially in some cases. While some bad habits are harder to quit than others, it doesn’t change the fact that you need to get rid of them. Here are 13 bad habits to quit right away:

1. Stress Eating

I used to be a serious stress eater. I would eat whenever I felt unhappy, stressed, disappointed, anxious, or even… happy! My eating had nothing to do with being hungry, and everything to do with using food to fill my emotional voids.

While eating would comfort me, this feeling was momentary and would disappear right after I was done eating. Instead, what I had left would be the same emotional void that triggered me to eat in the first place (be it unhappiness or stress), a 2,000 excess calorie intake over what I should have eaten for the day, and anger at myself for having stress ate.

I’ve since overcome stress eating. I have healthy eating habits and a healthy relationship with food today where I no longer use food as a tool to fill my emotions.

If you are a stress eater, don’t fret — here’s how to manage your stress better:

How to Manage Stress (A Step-by-Step Guide to Turn Stress Into Success)

2. Nail Biting

Not only is nail biting unhygienic, it is also socially repelling, leads to dental problems like malocclusion of the anterior teeth,[1] potentially cause stomach problems,[2] and lead to severely deformed fingernails in the long run.

People who bite their nails tend to have shorter nails than the average person; their nail plates also experience scarring and may eventually become absent.[3]

Understand what triggers your nail biting behavior and replace it with another neutral to positive habit. Make habits to break habits.

For example, if you bite your nails when you are stressed, go for a walk or listen to music instead the next time you feel stressed.

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3. Hanging out with Naysayers

We all know these people — people who play devil’s advocate to every idea you have and every goal you want to pursue. We are already our greatest self-critics, so it doesn’t help when there’s someone beside us, ever ready to pounce on what we say and tear it down.

Hang out less with these naysayers and spend more time with supportive people who share constructive feedback instead. You will be much happier this way.

Learn how to get rid of naysayers with these 10 Ways to Ignore the Naysayers and Achieve Your Dreams.

4. Being with People Who Don’t Appreciate You

Haven’t all of us been in this situation before? Trying to please people who don’t appreciate us? Bending over backwards to be there for people when they are never there for us?

While we give without expectations of return, we need to draw a line with people who don’t value us because these people damage our souls.

Stop spending time with people who don’t appreciate you, and spend more time with people who do instead.

Unsure who you should get rid of? Learn about it here: 5 Kinds of Toxic People That You Need to Get Rid of Now

5. Smoking

Smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable death globally.[4]

In just the United States alone, about 500,000 deaths are attributed to smoking-related diseases annually. A recent study estimated that as much as one-third of China’s male population will have significantly shortened life-spans due to smoking! Gender-wise, male and female smokers lose an average of 13.2 and 14.5 years of life respectively — that’s over a decade of life right there.[5]

Not only that, smoking causes pre-mature skin aging (i.e. wrinkles), yellowing of teeth, bad breath, and worse of all — jeopardy of the health of people around you, including your loved ones. Studies have shown that non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke are at risk to many of the health problems associated with direct smoking.[6]

Smoking risks

    6. Excessive Drinking

    All of us know that drinking too much alcohol is bad for us, but do you know how bad it really is?

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    According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, drinking too much — be it on a single occasion or over time — can seriously damage your health:[7]

    • Brain problems: Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, making it harder to think clearly and move with coordination.
    • Heart diseases: Cardiomyopathy – Stretching and drooping of heart muscle, Arrhythmias – Irregular heart beat, stroke, high blood pressure
    • Liver diseases: Steatosis or fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, cirrhosis
    • Pancreas problems: Pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents proper digestion.
    • Different types of cancer: Mouth, esophagus, throat, liver, breast

    If you drink a lot, perhaps cutting it out right away will be tough. Cut down the number of glasses you drink each time, followed by the number of times you drink a week.

    If need be, seek help from an AA group — you aren’t alone in this. Change starts from today.

    7. Eating Junk Food (Including Diet Soda)

    Junk food — they are everywhere in our society today. From McDonald’s, to KFC, to Burger King, to 24-hour takeouts, junk food such as fries, highly processed burgers and sodas has become a staple in our society today.

    If you think, “Hey, but junk food is tasty!”, think again:

    A study by Paul Johnson and Paul Kenny suggests that junk food consumption alters brain activity in a way similar to addictive drugs like cocaine and heroin.[8]

    “After many weeks with unlimited access to junk food, the pleasure centers of rat brains became desensitized, requiring more food for pleasure.”

    And you wonder why you seem to crave fast food when you just had some the day before?

    While it may not be possible to remove junk food completely from our diet right away, we can reduce our junk food consumption starting today. Instead of soda, opt for a fruit juice (fresh juice, not the carbonated kind) or mineral water. Instead of fries, switch to mashed potato, a salad, or rice (many food outlets allow for this today). Instead of a fried meat patty, go for a grilled one.

    Where possible, opt for healthy food joints like salad bars and delis as opposed to fast food outlets. Every little step goes a long way.

    Here’re some healthy snacks ideas for you: 15 Healthy Snacks You Should Always Have At Home

    8. Eating Too Much Red Meat

    There has been conclusive evidence that consumption of red meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer; and suggestive evidence that it increases the risk of oesophageal cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, and endometrial cancer.

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    In addition, some studies have linked consumption of large quantities of red meat with breast cancer, stomach cancer, lymphoma, bladder cancer, lung cancer and prostate cancer![9]

    Personally, I’m a vegetarian so I don’t consume red meat, but for those of you who consume red meat, do watch out and limit your intake — better still, cut it out of your diet. World Cancer Research Fund recommends limiting intake of red meat to less than 300g (11 oz) cooked weight per week, “very little, if any of which to be processed.”

    Of if you’re thinking about becoming a vegetarian, check out this guide: 5 Practical Tips For Starting a Vegetarian Lifestyle

    9. Watching Too Much TV

    I stopped watching TV since eight years ago and I have never regretted it. Every once in a while I will switch on the telly to see what is on, and then I will switch it off because it’s just the same boring shtick over and over again.

    Watching TV, particularly well-written dramas, can be a good way to unwind. However, remember that TV isn’t your life.

    Spending three hours every night watching TV will not change your life for the better. Rather, using that time to reflect on your life, take stock, and take action on your goals will.

    It’s not easy to remove TV from your daily routine right away, but follow these 6 Steps To Remove TV From Your Life.

    10. Being Late

    Not only is being late being rude to others, it also means that you’re always rushing from one place to another, playing catch up in your agenda, and having to apologize to every person you meet.

    Stop being late and not being punctual, but practice being early instead. Target to arrive 15 minutes earlier before any appointment and bring along something to do in those 15 minutes (or longer if the other person turns out to be late). Then you can stop playing catch up and stay ahead in life.

    Learn more tips about how to be more punctual here: How to Be On Time Every Time

    11. Being in Bad Relationships

    Are you always dating the wrong guys/girls? Do you end up with jerks all the time? Well, you may not be able to stop yourself from meeting bad partners but you can certainly stop yourself from furthering contact with them, spending time with them, or even… entering into a relationship with them.

    I used to invest myself in this guy who was nothing but toxic for me. After a good five months of experiencing nothing but getting burned over and over again, I realized that he was a total waste of my time and I deserved better. I decided to cut him off, and it was soon after that I met my soulmate.

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    Learn about why you shouldn’t stay in a bad relationship and how to deal with it if you’re in one: Why Trying Hard to Stay in an Unhappy Relationship Is Not Love, but Fear

    12. Leaving Things to the Last Minute

    Burning the midnight oil isn’t fun — it’s exhausting.

    Those of you who got through college by burning the midnight oil would have learned this the hard way. Not only is it damaging for your body, it is also mentally draining as you’re constantly in a hyper-tense mode, feeling anxious about whether you can finish your work on time.

    Start today on a new note. Rather than react to your deadlines, be proactive about them by planning ahead, identifying what needs to be done for the week, and getting things done in advance.

    By staying ahead of your tasks, you can also use your extra time to plan ahead in your life and get more things done.

    Take a look at this guide and learn how to stop procrastinating: Procrastination – A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

    13. Focusing on the Negatives

    In every situation, there are two ways you can react: zoom down to the problem areas and crib about how things aren’t the way you want, or celebrate the areas that are going well and work on making everything better.

    Many of us see the importance of doing the latter but in practice, we do the former. Why though? Criticizing and focusing on the negatives is easy but it doesn’t empower nor inspire us to be better.

    Make a change — for every negative encounter you run into, I challenge you to identify three things that are good about it. Practice doing this for one week, and by the end of the week you’ll find that your first instinct is to think positive, not negative.

    And here’re even more ways to help you stay positive: 11 Tips for Maintaining your Positive Attitude

    The Bottom Line

    So here you find the 13 most common bad habits and their consequences on your mind and body. The good news’ you can quit them all.

    Just spot out your own bad habits and take my suggestions to quit them. Then you’ll find your life a lot healthier and happier!

    Need more tips to break your bad habits? Check out these articles:

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

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