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What did children do in the free time during the 1200s? They went outside, played hopscotch, and experienced the outdoors. What do children do in their free time in 2015? They sit and stare at their phones, scroll through social media, or bury themselves in their dark room for 12 hours and play video games. In the past decade, technology has driven society to a world nobody would have ever imagined to exist. Humans have recently developed a dependence on technology, and can rarely go a day without using it. For example, the other night, the entire north campus at Saint Louis University ran out of power. Almost every student on campus immediately overreacted, claiming they were unable to do any homework or study because of the power outage. People considered apart of Generation Z (born in the mid-1990s to 2000s) fail to realize that students who attended school thirty years ago did not even have computers, yet they were still able to complete their work and studies. This dependence on technology by young people creates a huge problem that must be solved before long-term damages such as lack of social skills or attention problems start to show. Although technology positively contributes to both the individual and society in many different aspects, an abuse of technology by young adults and children creates problems which can be solved by parents limiting children’s time on technology, controlling what games they play, and making sure the technology is used for educational purposes.
Children all over the country play on some sort of technology for most of their day, which could likely come back to haunt them in the developmental process. A study done by the Kaiser Family Foundation says “Today, 8-18 year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes (7:38) to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week)” (Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation 1). This research concluded in 2010 is a little outdated; however, with even further progresses in technology, the number of hours most likely exceed higher than seven and a half of media per day. Although there can be positive educational values and some social improvements, too much technology at a young age could cause a dependence or other mental issues. At a young age, children subject themselves to distractions. They constantly need to do something, or seek attention from other things when they are not the center of attention. This could show why children obsess over things like tablets or smartphones, because they need something to distract themselves with. What better than a bunch of cute, fun games? According to the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Use of mobile media to occupy young children during daily routines such as errands, car rides and eating out is becoming a common behavioral regulation tool: what the industry terms a ‘shut-up toy'” (Radensky, Schumacher, Zuckerman 2). Parents have now started to give their children technology distractions to relieve their annoyance, which, according to the journal, can ultimately lead to self-control and problem-solving issues. Younger children will grow up and have a completely different outlook on not only their social life but work life as well, which contributes to why this problem must be solved.
Although the problem of young children abusing technology occurs across the globe, a few simple instructions followed by parents could result in this problem vanishing off the face of the earth. Parents can limit how much time, when, and what the children interact with while on their devices. A parent could easily allow children access to their phone for only an hour a day, instead of giving them their own iPad at age five where they will have accessibility 24 hours a day. Many commercials on TV say “ask your parent’s permission before going online,” yet how many children actually ask their parents before hopping on one of the three computers available in their house? Parents do not limit what type of video games their children play, and if the wrong game finds its way into a child’s mind, it can lead to violent and aggressive behavior (Anderson, Buckley, and Gentile 1). Another way a parent can limit their child from spending too much time on smart media is to not give them anything to use in the first place. Children under the age of 7 do not need to play “Clash of Clans” for 4 hours a day. Parents can use up the time their children spend on mobile media by spending time with their children and developing a loving relationship in the early years of the child’s life. Lastly, if parents choose to let their children use technology in moderation, they can take away the media as a form of punishment, exemplifying that technology is a privilege, not a necessity.
Most people would agree on the fact that the advancement of technology allows humans to progress and develop more efficiently. Technology has ultimately increased the pace at which we think, perform daily tasks, and learn information. Why would it be bad for children to use? Big differences exist between technology used for educational purposes and technology that provides leisure. TV shows such as Sesame Street or other interactive learning tools like Leapfrog use technology to increase the attention span, social skills, and development of younger children (Lillard, Peterson 1). Hands-on learning like this proves extremely useful to the social ability and learning in the child’s future. However, TV shows like SpongeBob Squarepants only slow down development and increase distraction and awkward social skills. In fact, another study from the Journal of Pediatrics says that young people who watch one of the most popular children’s show of all time, SpongeBob Squarepants, “performed significantly worse on the executive function tasks than children in the other 2 groups when controlling for child attention, age, and television exposure” (1). As technology further advances, nobody can predict the amount of technology children will have available once the younger generation begins to move into adulthood.
To conclude, an abuse of technology by children can create long-term problems such as distraction, a lack of social skills, and aggressive behaviors. It classifies as an issue that not many parents are aware of, which provides further evidence to why this problem must be solved. Technology creates higher production efficiency, better knowledge, and ultimately allows our society to progress further. The world in 2015 thrives off many different forms of technology, and businesses constantly try to market new forms to the public. However, too much technology, especially in children, can lead to many deficiencies in the human brain. With the correct instruction from parents and the use the technology for educational purposes at a young age, these deficiencies can vanish, eventually creating a more productive and efficient society that people can live in.
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