THE EFFECTS OF EXPOSING CHILDREN TO TECHNOLOGY
The current rate with which children are learning to use technology is increasing rapidly. According to a 2013 survey by Common Sense Media, which studies the influence of technology and media on children, tablets and smartphones were found to be used by 38% of children under the age of three in playing games (Rozenberg). A similar study in 2011 by the same organization showed only a 10% usage in the same age group, thus showing a marked increase (Rozenberg). Currently, the question is not whether children will be exposed to technology; but rather how soon, and when is ‘too soon’, to begin thinking about introducing children to technology? Exposure of children under the age of five to technology is not good, because it could have an adverse effect on the development of motor skills and promote sedentary life as normal. ‘Muscle memory’ of sitting in the same position whilst interacting with games or applications, could lead to a willingness to continue this through adult life, and also lead to disability issues linked to repetitive strain injuries or carpel tunnel syndrome.
Experts for early introduction of technology trust that children aged less than five that become informed with computer technology get better prepared for school. However, I would argue that introducing children to technology at a tender age can be a source of distraction to proper skill acquisition and development.
First of all, proponents of early exposure cite the fine tuning of motor skills and the teaching of cause and effect as some of the reasons why early introduction to technology should be fostered. However, as outlined below, the number of points and the reasons against these claims shows that introduction of technology to children aged below five is disadvantageous. First, introduction of such technology and games reduces ‘people time’ which is a necessary interactive time for developing social skills.
Technology games are interactive, but the communication is only between the screen and the user. Children below five need contact with people to develop their social skills and empathy, and have person-to-person stages of fun that can be educational to the children. “There is no educational game or software that can take up this role. Such as, it is necessary that children engage more in basic human communication than in interactions that are technology based” (Rozenberg).
Secondly, introducing children aged below five to technology exposes them to a non-engaging and sedentary lifestyle where they do very little physical exercising. Technology-based games may be emotionally stimulating, but children aged below five should be actively burning energy and spending the extra calories on physical exercises to develop bodily. Physical play is important to the growth of children at this age. This helps the children in building strong muscles, and it is the best way that children discover their talents and skills besides testing their physical limits. In addition, habits established early tend to persist and children exposed to a sedentary lifestyle may get used to it, and thus end with related problems such as obesity and poor eyesight. Therefore, it is important to reduce the time that children interact with technology, and increase physical activity such as digging holes and dancing, climbing trees or playing ball.
Watching television or playing video games for extended periods, can delay physical and mental childhood development in its crucial formative period. “Brain development is fastest in the first three years and any refusal of developmental skills through too much high-tech engagement negatively affects the positive development of children” (Rozenberg).
Thirdly, a hands-on way to be learning is more important than high technology learning based games. There is a reason why children get into and touch almost everything. This is the best way to learn about the world around them. For example, stacking blocks without tumbling, kneading clay from water and soil, and physically shoveling sand into a bucket are important physical skills that can only be learned through actual engagement and not through technology games. These kind of practical skills are hugely important. In fact, trying to teach such skills through computer technology “is not practical to children aged below five” (Rozenberg).
Excessive stimulation from tech-games can pose problems to children aged below five. It is common for a preschooler to be overwhelmed by sensory effects presented by tech games through flashing lights, bold colors, loud sound effects, and persistent gaming action. This frequently presents itself when children get easily frustrated or cranky after sessions of interaction with technology-based games. If such behavior is observed, it is advisable to reduce screen time and dedicate more time to old-fashioned children pursuits or tracking such as drawing, modelling from clay and taking a ride on a scooter around the neighborhood with their neighbor’s child.
The overstimulation caused by technology-based games may also form a challenge because children used to excessive stimulation may find it difficult to reduce it for quieter past times like reading or drawing, playing soccer, or running. Such children may also find it difficult to pay attention to the less high-tech educational mediums such as a teacher (What to expect). Considering all of these, experts for or against technology approve that play is important in both its physical form and advanced form, and they are divided on what qualifies as play. Then it is agreeable that exposure to technology at a tender age should be fun, educational and engaging, for it to be considered good play and help to develop a child’s motor skills.
Overall, conceding all of the reasons, exposing technology to children below five is not recommended for them because it is bad for their health and their brain. This topic is important for all the parents to save their children’s lives from the risks that may be caused by being exposed to technology. Furthermore, this information will help the parents to advise their children to do some physical exercise as part of a better, healthy lifestyle to children below five.
Rozenberg, N, When should children be exposed to technology? 2014. Web. 29th October, 2014. WHAT TO EXPECT. Young Children and Computers: Some Pros and Cons. 2014. Web.