• Kids and Technology: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

    There have been so many articles about technology and kids in the news recently. 10 Reasons Why Handheld Devices Should Be Banned For Kids Under 12 has been shared all over Facebook. There was also a rebuttal to that article, called 10 Reasons Why I Will Continue To Give My Kids Handheld Devices.  Coincidentally, I just read a book, The Big Disconnect, which talks about how families have become more disconnected from each other because of technology.

    After reading all these, I’ve been thinking a lot about where I stand on this topic.  I will continue to be thinking, learning, and formulating my thoughts, but in the meantime I wanted to share with you some of the interesting facts I’ve learned.

    (The facts below are taken from The Big Disconnect unless otherwise noted.)

    The Good:

    • Technology can help kids learn information quickly and easily.
    • Technology is utilized in almost all work environments, and learning it at a young age can help kids be prepared better to use it in their career.
    • Technology can connect kids with their peers and promote social interaction.
    • Technology can teach skills such as collaborative play, strategic thinking, and problem solving.
    • Technology is a useful tool for parents to keep kids entertained when kids are bored or when parents need time to complete other tasks without interruptions.

    The Bad:

    • Kids can be exposed to violent content, sexual content, and generally adult topics more easily through technology.
    • Through the media, kids are exposed to stereotypical gender messages and sexualized images, which they often try to imitate in real life.
    • It’s difficult for children to develop empathy for other people when they aren’t interacting with others face to face. They are more likely to bully or be rude when using technology than in a face-to-face encounter. (Watch Louie C.K. talk about this issue here!)
    • Technology takes away time for free, unstructured play. Play time is necessary for kids to learn to think creatively, problem solve, and develop reasoning skills.
    • Kids and teens are naturally more impulsive than adults. Allowing them immediate access to internet and texting can make it very easy for them to make bad decisions that they will later regret.
    • Violent media can cause more aggression in kids, both in the short-term and long-term.
    • Mistakes are permanent and easily shared – if a teen sends a nude picture to someone else, it can easily be saved forever and sent out to everyone in that person’s contact list.

    The Ugly:

    • The average 8 to 10 year old spends nearly 8 hours per day using some type of media, and for kids older than 10, the average is least 11 hours a day. Wow! This leaves little time for physical activity, unstructured play, and face to face interactions.
    • Technology can literally be addictive. Getting a text or snapchat gives the brain a rush of chemicals – the same ones that are involved in drug addiction. It’s no wonder it’s hard for teens to refrain from texting while driving!
    • For infants, exposure to technology is particularly problematic. It slows down their motor development and hand-eye coordination
      . Viewing technology as an infant predicts  attention problems in elementary school. It also wires their brains to be more “passive” rather than “active” by letting technology entertain them, rather than learning to entertain themselves. Spending time with Ipads and TVs as an infant can change the way their brain forms, therefore affecting the rest of their life.
    • Studies have shown that media use can lead to attention problems, cognitive delays, more tantrums, school difficulties, sleep disorders, eating disorders, and obesity.

    So those are the interesting facts that I found about technology and kids. While I’m working on putting my advice about technology into words, I want to hear from you! What are your thoughts about kids and technology? How do you handle this with your own kids?

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