Itis common to hear parents, somewhat jokingly, say their toddlers knowmore about navigating their smartphones than they do themselves. Theyare proud that their babies are tech savvy, as they should be. Manyparents believe that since their children will be using technologieswhen they start school, they would be behind from the start if theydo not have some technological skills ahead of time.
Some of theseparents probably lack confidence in their own technological abilitiesand want to make sure that their children are better prepared. Evenlow-income parents want to be sure that their children haveopportunities to learn, so they let them spend a lot of time atpublic libraries or with friends or relatives who have computers athome (Plowman and McPake, 2013). On the flip side, some parents feel that it is unnecessary for their young children to have early knowledge of using electronics. They argue that there is no benefit in an early start because technologies change quickly or become obsolete. Anything learned when they are 4 will be out of date within a few short years (Plowman and McPake, 2013). Also, they feel that if they encourage their child to be familiar with technology, the child might become too absorbed in it and neglect other learning opportunities, or worse, a child with loose reigns might somehow stumble upon something he isn’t supposed to find, like pornography or a site loaded with a virus (Edwards, 2017).
Technology, it is thought by some, has particularly adverse effects on preschoolers because they are still developing cognitively and socially, leading to advice that young children should not be exposed to computers or television because this will be detrimental both at the time and later in life (Plowman and McPake, 2013). As long as technology is used appropriately, interactions with technology can provide excellent learning opportunities. For example, learning how to maneuver in different types of technologies, getting them to operate a certain way, and having opportunities for personal input to get a personalized response, is great in educating children on operation and control. Also, interacting with technologies can help children to better comprehend the rest of the world because they have more ability to see and witness other cultures and lands (Feds Weigh In, 2017). Technology can create an early yearning to learn more and more. This will help with self-confidence as navigation becomes less intimidating.
With the gain of self-esteem, there will be a wider range of challenges to tackle as the young child grows into an older child, and then from a teenager into adulthood. If misused or overused, however, there can be several negative effects on a child’s development and quality of life. Many homes are saturated with leisure technologies, which can lead to too much television viewing and hours upon hours of playing console games. 24% of 2-year olds use technology at the dinner table. By age 8, that percentage nearly doubles at 45%. Also, by age 6, 44% of kids would rather play a game on a technology device than read a book or be read to. By age 8, most children prefer that technology is present when spending time with a family member or friend. (New ASHA Survey, 2015) Judith L.
Page, PhD, 2015 ASHA president, says, “The most rapid period of brain development takes place before age 3. The primary way young children learn is through verbal communication that technology simply cannot duplicate.” She goes on to explain how critical it is that children have sufficient opportunities to develop their vocabulary and communication skills by listening, talking, reading, and interacting with their parents and others (New ASHA Survey, 2015). Many parents are exhausted after working all day. It can be tempting to use electronics as a babysitter, even when it is against parents’ better judgment. Technology over-usage can cause children to be more sedentary.
Instead of being active with physical play, a child might sit for long periods of time using a tablet, a smart phone, a computer, or watching television. This can set the child up for a long lasting struggle with being overweight as a result of too little exercise. Another issue is Vitamin D deprivation. This vitamin comes from sunshine and is important to our immune system.
Since the sun shining on the screens of devices makes one unable to see the screen well, it is easy to conclude that the indoors option will usually win. Thus, too much use of technology can indirectly cause a deficiency in vitamin D. Besides so muchtime spent inactively due to electronics, excessive time spent insolitude might cause a lack in social skills and emotionaldevelopment. It can be more difficult to develop friendships, andthere can likely be a lack of engagement with the family. Developingcommunication skills is critical in order to do well in school and inlife in general, so it makes one wonder what will happen to so manywho shut themselves off to necessary socialization.
Witnessing achild staring at a tablet or smartphone for a long length of timecauses concern, making those who see it happening believe the childmight be addicted and lacking in social skills. This leaves themwondering what it will do to the child’s self-worth. Many who claimto be experts on the subject of technology use among young childrenhave very conflicting messages as time goes by. For many years,adults heard warnings issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics ofthe dangers of children using media at the expense of socialinteraction. In October 2015, however, the same group changed theirviews to say that media usage should not be avoided, but used as aneducational tool with guidance and supervision. (Levine and Guernsey,2015) After weighingout the positives and the negatives of the use of electronics byyoung children, most would likely conclude that moderation is thekey.
Balance the use of technology with traditional activity.Children’s early experiences with various technologies can complementtheir learning, especially when they are supported and monitored byadults. With parents helping their children when things aredifficult, encouraging and giving praise for achievements and helpingthem manage their emotions when they get frustrated, playing andlearning with technology will be no different from the playing andlearning they’re achieving from other kinds of activities. A study wasconducted a few years ago that involved two Philadelphia libraries.One was located in a financially well-off community and the other ina low-income area of the city. For several years, two researchers,with the help of assistants, observed how parents and their childrenused the books and computers in each of the two libraries.
Eachlibrary had the same level of offerings, but there was still a bigdifference between the two. Just because there were computersavailable didn’t mean there was an automatic advantage. In the poorcommunity, adults struggled to fill out forms or work with computersoftware. Their children looked at picture books, but didn’t readmuch.
They got bored with the books because no adults helped guidethem through stories. There was no one to ask them questions. Thekids played computer games that didn’t have much to do with readingor learning new skills. Some of the games weren’t designed very well,to help them learn, so the kids just banged on the keyboards infrustration, and eventually gave up. At the same time, the childrenat the other library usually had an adult by their side while theyused the computers, guiding them to appropriate games and softwarewhile asking them questions about what they were playing with. Thesechildren were able to interact with adults, enjoy conversation, getintroduced to new skills, and get educated about how computers workand how to use them to learn and solve problems.
(Levine andGuernsey, 2015) Whilethere are very good explanations from those who are advocates oftechnology usage at an early age, as well as reasonable argumentsagainst it, now it should be more evident that when used inmoderation, technology’s effect on young children is significantlymore good than bad. Usage with supervision allows the interaction andbonding to bring about great social skills, gives opportunities forteachable moments, and enhances knowledge by being much broader inits capabilities than other forms of learning.