Tremendous scientific advancements have enabled the creation of computers along with the wide range of functional potential that they possess. Computers are notable for their application in medicine, military complex, science, education, and entertainment, of which the last two have come to be the most controversial of functions. The point is that children are used to spending plenty of time in front of computer screens, whether for the purpose of education or entertainment, which cannot choose but produce health-related concerns among medicine and health experts who claim computers to have a negative outcome for maturing children’s minds. Healy (17) notes that technologies always tend to shape growing minds, and the younger it is, the more ductile it proves to be. The young age of computer technologies speaks volumes for the fact that they are unproven scientifically the way they should be. Hence, the exposure of children’s bodies, brains, and spirits to digital technologies should be the matter of scientific concern (Healy 17).
User profile suggests that children use computers for the better part of their daytime. Shields and Behrman (5) note that one of the reasons for children to resort to computers is information accessibility, that is to say, they can receive whatever information needed, without attending a library. Computers can convey personal messages in lieu of telephones or post offices. More importantly than that, these technological devices are second best to no type of media, such radio, newspapers, and television in terms of providing news and entertainment on a daily basis. These are the reasons children spend so much time sitting in front of computer screens. As it stands these days, educators opine that the acquisition of competence in using computers to integrate into the today’s technologically advanced society socially, politically, and economically, which is something they agree on unanimously. Guided by this principle, parents think of computer as being the source of usefulness, albeit children’s exposure to commercial, brutal, and sexual content proves the contrary of the statement. Shields and Behrman (6) do admit that children computer time both at school and at home is exceedingly extensive. That said, little research has been conducted to link computer application with the negative effects on children’s maturing organism.
According to Shields and Behrman (6), Subrahmanyam, Kraut, Greenfield, and Gross (124), interesting point is that the healthy development of children requires them being involved in physical and social activities. In addition, computer time should not occupy a substantial amount of the day as it mostly does (Shields & Behrman 6). What experts point to, is that children’s spending too much time gaming or surfing the internet leads them to under-receive physical and social experience they may otherwise obtain by socializing with peers in what is known as social interaction. Using computer leaves children leaves them sitting for the most part of screen time, which is detrimental from a purely physiological viewpoint. Muscles can either atrophy or remain undeveloped, which has its own medical ramifications. According to Shields and Behrman (6), the extent to which computers can develop children is more limited than parents and educators believe; hence, much remains to be studied to let computers perform educational purposes, with no physiological harm inflicted.
Subrahmanyam, Kraut, Greenfield, and Gross (124) claim that computers may be considered television replacement. When it is, computer are viewed in a positive light; however, when they are chosen over sport and social activities, such exposure may threaten physical and psychological wellbeing. Obvious as it is, more research on the negative influence on the aforementioned activities has yet to be made, for current results are ambiguous. According to Stanger and Gridina (n.p.), a survey from 1999 demonstrates that children who have computer access tend to spend 4 hours and 48 minutes a day on average in front of a computer monitor or television screen. Interestingly, children who do not have computers at their disposal have proved to spend 3 hours and 40 minutes in front of TV screen, which is more than one hour less as opposed to their computerized peers (qtd. in Subrahmanyam, et al. 124-125). Clearly, accessibility, versatility, and interactivity of computers make children ignore activities other than computer ones, which is the case among device owners. Television seems to be losing this contest.
Hill and Peter (n.p.) claim that sedentary occupations, such as applying computer or watching television, are the reason as many as 25% of American children suffer from excessive weight and obesity (qtd. in Subrahmanyam, et al. 126). According to Gortmaker, Must, and Sobol (n.p.), in contempt of no systematic research on the correlation between obesity and the use of computers, excessive weight is thought to be due to five-to-six-hour computer use (qtd. in Subrahmanyam, et al. 126, Shields & Behrman 7). Hill and Peter (n.p.) believe that the risk of gaining weight is particularly serious if computer application is coupled with that of television (qtd. in Subrahmanyam, et al. 126). According to American Academy of Pediatrics (n.p.), parents ought to make more emphasis on physical conditioning, athletics, and imaginative play (qtd. in Subrahmanyam, et al. 126). Pitman (10) admits that obese or overweight children face the lifetime risk of developing such health issues as cardiac disease and type two diabetes as a result of inactivity due to excessive television watching. Obesity follows from the imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended with the aid of exercises and physical activity. According to the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (n.p.), television disarranges this balance by means of decreased metabolic rate by watching television or being engaged in electronic media activities, such as internet surfing, reduced physical activity, and enhanced calorie and food consumption (qtd. in Pitman 10).
Fuchs and Woessmann (5) suggest that computer application can have baneful influence on school students since it helps them avoid using their minds in for finding solutions. Computer-aided instruction can confine children’s creativity. The fact of the matter is that computerized programs allow children to act in a way established in advance with a restricted set of creative opportunities, which is likely to decrease schools students’ ability of solving problems and putting creativity on display and enhance thinking in predefined schemes rather than finding independent and creative solutions by themselves (Fuchs & Woessmann 5). The above-mentioned opinion makes a lot of sense since computer software suggests to students plenty of opportunities of solving tasks, without them having to seek creative decisions by performing tasks, such as translation, mathematical calculations, or creative writing. In resorting to computer-aided instructions, children grow idle and hardly use brains to their full potential. An increase in computer application by home task performance is inversely proportional to a subsequent decrease in creativity and school performance.
Rocheleau (n.p.) claims that home computers have been attributed to better academic performance results. Thus, for example, a 1995 longitudinal study has shown that students who have computers receive higher overall grades and better results in English and math in particular as compared to their peers who do not (qtd. in Subrahmanyam et al., 128). Still, Subrahmanyam, Kraut, Greenfield, and Gross (128) opine that children with personal computers have parents with higher family income and education, which are more obvious contributors to better academic performance. Even if computers do not contribute to better school results, there is a growing body of evidence that these devices are serious distractors. Fuchs and Woessmann (5) suggest that computer can distract from studying and doing homework especially at home, as the device may be applied for playing games. Wirth and Klieme (n.p.) insists on computers being used as toys at homes (qtd. in Fuchs and Woessmann 5). Internet access can offer similar distraction by online games or chat rooms, which critically decreases the amount of time that could otherwise be spent in learning (Fuchs and Woessmann 5). It is safe to infer from the above that children simply do not develop their learning capabilities and skills by dedicating the lion’s share of their time to gaming or surfing the internet instead of learning that grants these attainments. Worse, as has been mentioned above by Fuchs and Woessmann (5), computer-aided instruction and software can reduce children’s creative thinking and prevent them from acquiring problem-solving skills.
According to a history professor at California State University, Theodore Roszak, there is an alarming trend among young students. They prefer receiving information from the internet to deriving knowledge from books. There is certain danger in doing so inasmuch as the World Wide Web is the mixture of incomplete information and misinformation. All the majority of students know is how to deal with information, without being adept in such advanced forms of intellectual activity as interpretation, thinking, evaluation, and mastering great ideas. Young students do not acquire the skills of intellectual exploration or spadework by simply clicking on icons or surfing the internet. There is more to it than that, since all computers do is create a false impression of helping children learn in a funny manner. Satisfaction comes with hard learning that may not be gratifying, and it involves a measure of attention span. Computers appear to fragment attention spans to such a degree that children end up losing the capacity of following a train of thought though a book or a chapter (Bennetts n.p.). That being said, computers seem hazardous, as they do a lot to atrophy children’s attention abilities and other mental skills or leave them undeveloped.
There has been no research conducted on the correlation between domestic skills development and computer use in children. Since domestic skills imply home maintenance, cleaning, cooking, and other daily chores that require spending plenty of time, time-consuming computer application does not allow children to be engaged in such activities. Not acquiring such skills early in life due to computers replacing these activities, children may have problems doing daily domestic chores in the future. However, what render most experts concerned about computer applications are physical risks. Mendels (n.p.) notes that researchers warn about the risk of repetitive strain injuries sustained by children from the use of computers at workstations that are not intended for children as well as plausible detrimental impact on vision that is likely to emerge from looking steadily at computer screens. While it is workers who sustain injuries from repetitive motion or overexertion associated with computer misuse, children face similar physical risks (qtd. in Shields & Behrman 7). Subrahmanyam, Kraut, Greenfield, and Gross (127) claim that, unfortunately, no significant research has been conducted to link computer use to the negative impact on eyes, back, and wrists. According to the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (n.p.), children who use electronic games and computers may adopt awkward and sustained postures associated with musculoskeletal disorders. Extensive computer use may result in negative neurological, physical, and visual changes (qtd. in Pitman 11).
Dangerous are computer games from a neurological perspective since flashing images against a glowing background may be instrumental in stimulating epileptic seizures (Pitman 11). Badinand-Hubert, Bureau, and Hirsh (n.p.) also point to flashing images or “flicker frequencies” as things that launch seizures in those suffering from photosensitive epilepsy (qtd. in Subrahmanyam, et al. 127). Graf, Chatrian, and Glass (n.p.) note that video game-associated seizures were best treated with abstinence from computer games rather than with conventional anticonvulsant medication (qtd. in Subrahmanyam, et al. 127). According to Electronic Games (n.p.), children’s playing computer games may not only produce such physical risks as seizures and hand injuries, but also they can cause changes in heart rate (qtd. in Subrahmanyam, et al. 127). It is worth noting that, according to Brasington (n.p.) computer games may well result in tendinitis, aka Nintendinitis, a type of sport trauma characterized by acute pain in the extensor tendon of the right hand thumb following recurring pressing of buttons when playing (qtd. in Subrahmanyam, et al. 127).
Increased computer use is fraught with serious emotional changes that children may undergo. Kraut, Patterson, and Lundmark (n.p.) note that there is an increase in the feelings of depression and loneliness among children having computer access for the first year (qtd. in Shields & Behrman 7). Scientist have connected the extensive application of the internet with the aim of accessing multi-identity chat rooms, multiuser domains, or multiparty games not only with depression and the feeling of loneliness, but also with the blearing of children’s ability of differentiating real life from simulation. Subrahmanyam together with colleagues has concluded that virtual environment cause children to assume various identities as well as interact with strangers, which blurs the distinction between reality and the imaginary or virtual world. Scientists insist that it is by spending time in chat rooms and MUDs that children develop depression and other emotional disorders. Since children of all ages may be seen participating in simulation and MUDs environments, it is important that further research on their impact on children’s psychological development be made (Shields & Behrman 10). Clearly, depression is the first step to suicidal sentiments, which is why profound research is needed.
Besides emotional changes, excessive computer use may the reason children suffer from social isolation, with relations with peers and family cooling down. Wartella and Jennings (36) note that computers contribute to children’s self-perception as well as affecting their socialization in many ways both at home and in school. Shields & Behrman (7) suggest that computer use influences children’s social development. Griffiths (n.p.) claims that, at the age of seven, children’s interaction with peers, family, community, and school play their unique role in their development of such skills as social competence and interpersonal attainments (qtd. in Shields & Behrman 7). According to Colwell, Grady, and Rhaiti (n.p.) those children who enter into electronic relationships with friends may have interpersonal skills development hindered (qtd. in Shields & Behrman 7). Woodward and Gridina (n.p.) inform that 20% of children aged 8 and 16 have computers and 11% of them have internet access in their bedrooms (qtd. in Shields & Behrman 7). These figures demonstrate that a considerable number of children might apply these devices in social isolation. Kraut, Patterson, and Lundmark (n.p.) claim that an analysis of 93 families showed that children’s first year of online experience caused a serious decline in social involvement (qtd. in Shields & Behrman 7). According to Alliance for Childhood (n.p.), experts fear lest computers should be applied to replace rather than increase child-to-child as well as child-to-teacher relationships (qtd. in Shields & Behrman 7).
According to Pitman (8), television may affect children’s health in a variety of ways: they may want to reproduce what they see, their learnt inhibitions against violent misdemeanor may become reduced, and they may grow desensitized to brutality (Pitman 8). According to The Australian Psychological Society (n.p), children exposed to violence are highly likely to have unfriendly sentiments and aggressive thoughts, behave in an aggressive way, and to show no care whatsoever about what happens to the victims of violence (qtd. in Pitman 6). Computer games are no different from television in this respect since games do feature protagonists and antagonists involved in bloody scenes that may involve a measure of unmotivated violence. Besides, it is often after children see action heroes decimate foes or innocent civilians, that they go get themselves parents’ gun and start school shooting or get engaged in hostage-taking for no good reason at all.
Subrahmanyam, Kraut, Greenfield, and Gross (132) suggest that playing computer games beyond measure can enhance children’s aggressive behavior. Pitman (8) goes on to note that games-induced violence may not only lead children to hurt other people, but also to inflict injuries on themselves. The outcomes of early exposure to violent game content may not emerge until after 15 years later in the shape of criminal behavior and domestic violence that may be the recurrence of childhood games-induced delinquencies. However, it should be borne in mind that the ones who are sensitive to violent computer game content are prone to violent behavior in most cases. Wartella and Jennings (38) express concern about children’s excessive vulnerability and exposure to inappropriate content, such sex, advertising, and violence. Furger (n.p.) warns that children may come to access violence and hate sites by surfing the internet (qtd. in Wartella and Jennings 38). This is an important message for parents since children may espouse a violent ideology that is easy to access through internet.
Computers and most notably the internet grant children the opportunity of not only isolating themselves from peers, but also from their retaliatory reaction when once they decide to bully peers online. According to Pitman (12), cyberbullying is a type of communication activity based on cyber technology, which is regarded as being harmful to the well-being of individuals it is directed at by online offenders. Internet-based communication may provide offenders with multiple opportunities of assaulting victims through chat rooms, newsgroups, web sites, email, discussions boards, and home pages, to name a few. Cyberbullying may come in the form of harassment, personal privacy trespassing, predation, stalking, the proliferation of abusive or violent material, detrimental speech, hate group recruitment and a variety of other types. Unfortunately, the failures and incapacity of legislation, parents, and educators to address cyberbullying committed by children are the reason such juvenile offenders largely go unpunished (Pitman 12).
Overall, computer availability and their functional improvement have increased the amount of time children spend in front of screens for either entertainment or educational purposes. Computer home and school application is believed by many educators and parents to help children integrate into society. However, children spend an excessive amount of computer time, which is fraught with serious physiological repercussions, such as obesity due to upset metabolism and little physical load. Children under-receive physical and social experience from interacting with peers and being involved in sport activities. Cardiac disease, type two diabetes, epileptic seizures, vision deterioration, back, wrist injuries, awkward postures, musculoskeletal disorders, and tendinitis are the main physiological dangers children face when browsing the internet or playing computer games for a long time. More than that, computer use may result in children’s thinking in predetermined schemes, not acquiring the ability of solving tasks, and having their creativity reduced. Experts tend to believe computers to serve as distractors that keep children from receiving vital school knowledge. To make matters significantly worse, these electronic devices may render children unable to follow trains of thoughts through book chapters since computers fragment attention spans and make it impossible for them to concentrate on contemplating properly.
Computer application may either cause or re-aggravate the feelings of loneliness and depression and deduct from children’s chances of acquiring the skills of interpersonal relationship. Lastly and most importantly, computer excessive application and exposure to violence featured in computer games do result in aggressive behavior on the part of children who are sensitive to such content, after which they may become involved in criminal activities, such as physical assault or cyberbullying, a dangerous form of online harassment. Little research has been conducted on the negative outcomes of computer application; however, the whole matter may be that big software, game and computer manufacturers simply do not want the negative outcomes of computer use proved. Since if they are, sale rate may slump very significantly, which is highly undesirable. With that in mind, studies on the negative influence of computer games, program and internet use need to be conducted as soon as possible especially if parents and school professors are to rear and educate healthy and psychologically sound children.
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