Bad behavior, health problems, social skill issues, self-danger – these may just be some of the negativities technology can bring to children. No wonder why parents are starting to fear to have their kids attached too much to their gadgets.
If you have a child, you will always want what’s best for him and to raise him as a decent human being. With all the warning parents hear more and more nowadays about the negative effects of technology, they start to push their kids away from these. Parents start to opt for recreational activities and expose them to real-life experiences rather than allowing their child to be glued on their gadgets.
But our society is evolving and technology is a big part of it. Changes happening in our society highly includes technology – from socializing, learning, working, doing daily tasks, and other essential and regular routine. Devices don’t have to be totally prohibited to children – the key is moderation.
In this section, we will go deeper in exploring and understanding the pros and cons of technology and the internet to kids.
Kids and the internet
In today’s society, there’s the real-life experience and the online experience – sometimes they both differ in one human. A person can be very shy in person, yet very vocal and expressive in the online community. And, all these online experiences are done through the internet. The internet is now a big part of today’s culture, mainly to the youth – for the purposes of socializing, gaming, studying, and more.
The internet comes with various pros and cons and there is a lot to consider – especially the security and safety of the child. A parent should know all the way around the computer and internet more than the child can.
Keeping kids safe on their phones and the internet
Online crimes are rapidly growing – calling a global attention. Just to name a few, some of the usual online crimes are cyber-bullying, online child sexual abuse, and online scams. Now, these are all possible to happen to a child when there is no proper guide and monitoring from an adult. It’s either the parent should know way more about how the internet and gadgets work, or they should teach the child to practice precautions and safety while on the internet.
Currently, in our society, it seems to be normal or even essential for young children to own phones and gadgets. Parents say they give their child these for the purposes of communication, as a training tool, to keep them distracted, or just because of the child’s demand because “ other kids have their own”. A child has a lot of activities he can do over his phone and the internet, mostly to keep himself entertained. One thing a parent should closely monitor is when a child joins an online chat room in which he can be exposed to different kinds of people and strangers.
Luckily, phones and the internet are with us and have settings to enable you to protect your child. You can go on full-parental control in certain browsers, block certain websites, and you can even purchase some safety tools for parents. These ways are definitely not crossing your child’s privacy – especially when they’re still too young to know what’s right. Knowing the importance of keeping up with how the technology and the internet works, will make you want to know more about doing so. Here are some other ways you can start doing to ensure your child’s safety:
- Be mindful of the safety tools their phones and the internet browser has for you and learn how to activate them or set preferences on the browser’s settings.
- Familiarize yourself with the websites your child visits and be aware of the activities they are doing on those sites. For social networks, get a feel of what is going on with your child’s interaction and determine if it is suitable to your child’s age or if it’s too adult and such.
- If you think you’re not too knowledgeable on how gadgets and the internet works, you can sign up on courses that teach on this subject. It is worth the effort to know more deeply about these if it means keeping your child safe in a world ran by technologies and have easy communication with strangers from anywhere around the globe.
Kids and television, video games
Kids, starting at a young age and growing up, can easily learn from what they are exposed to and imitate what they see. For this reason, every parent should be careful in what they allow their kids to see and hear. Majority of the household have television and other devices that are most likely offering games, too. Of course, children will engage in these technology no matter what. But as mentioned earlier, you can have control over the time usage so as not to allow them to go overboard.
TV shows and video games can extremely keep a child distracted and entertained for the longest time. And, as we all know, too much of these have a negative impact on a child’s development – physically, mentally, and socially. Besides these, with technology around us, it is such an easy access for them to engage in contents that aren’t appropriate for them. There may be shows that have adult content and video games that may have actions like killing, and other explicit contents. You must be aware that there are dangers lurking just from these technologies that we should be aware of to know the necessary actions to take.
Pros and cons of technology for kids
Our society is currently in an advanced stage and continually advancing in big extents. People wonder if these advancements have helped or harmed children? Well, the answer is both – but that also depends on how they are accustomed to using it. No matter what, the young generations now and in the future will become tech savvy. It will be customary for them to be experts in technology – particularly the usual gadgets and the internet.
Now, should children really use technology? This isn’t the question you should be asking. The right questions are, when? starting at what age? how much? to what extent? Too much of everything is bad – and this doesn’t exempt technology even though it has a lot to offer. Technology has some pros and cons for kids that we should be aware of – especially the cons. By being aware of the disadvantages, we will be able to set limits and apply rules to our children so they won’t go overboard.
List of Pros of Technology to Kids
They have fun!
The feel-good chemical known as dopamine raises as a child has fun with a gadget. Entertainment is one of the main offers of technology, especially to children. Kids can have so much fun with their phones or tablets – be it a simple racing or puzzle game, or any other simple trending games like angry birds, temple run, and such. Children are aware of the action and reaction aspect making them know how to play these games.
They gain knowledge and skills
Technology has been advancing at a fast pace and has been building gadgets, tools, applications, programs, and software dedicated to educating children. It even has the power to teach kids worth of 10 years of education in school. Technology can contain in-depth and essential information that children should know in order to have a deeper understanding of the world. It has shown positive impacts in improving a child’s solving skills, critical thinking, and mathematical thinking. Also, this allows a student to learn at their own pace – remember that no two students are alike when it comes to their learning style. A student can use a gadget as a learning material and study in their own comforts and pace.
They learn responsibility
Children can learn responsibility through parents granting them a usage of their technology when certain tasks are done, good grades or a reward is achieved, or if they’ve shown good behavior. Parents can dictate conditions in order for them to use their gadgets – in this way, the child would learn how to prioritize physical and real-world tasks over technology and the internet. If this discipline is done correctly and mindfully, you’ll be preparing your child to be responsible in the digital age where it’s too easy to be sulking on gadgets and be unproductive.
Technology prepares them for the future
Technology will continually be present in our society and be part of our advancement, whether we like it or not. With schools using technology as educational tools, this will expose the kids on how they work. As time passes, starting in their young age, they become more familiar with it and seek to learn more about how to function this technology. Kids become comfortable using tech which makes them easier to keep up with the advances. Forward-looking, this is important in a world where technology progresses almost day by day. In short, allowing your child to use them will help him secure a job in the future.
Improves Engagement and Teamwork
As stated earlier, kids have lots of fun with technology. What if it is used as a teaching tool? Children will be much more excited to learn and become more engaged in lessons, which is great! They can learn more and become active learners with this kind of teaching materials. There are also programs that allow the kids to do activities together with their classmates, which leads them to cooperation and teamwork skills. They will learn how to share the gadget, work with others, and communicate through the computer. Technology, when used for productive and educational purposes, can surely make the students learn faster and more – compared to eras that only used traditional teaching which can easily bore children.
List of Cons of Technology to Kids
Develop disorders and poses other health-risks
Yes, technology can really have bad effects on a child’s physical and psychological health. Too much use of technology in kids can affect their brain in terms of relaxing and unwinding. This can cause problems in behavior and make them have a hard time sleeping. Also, excessive use of technology makes kids prefer to be unbothered in their digital world, making them lose interests in initiating face-to-face interaction with other people – this will lead to a hindrance of their brain development. Because, at a young age, kids should have an adequate level of personal communication and interaction with other people in order for their brain to fully develop.
Other health risks that can be caused by technology to children are obesity, anxiety, ADHD, depression, and other psychiatric disorders. This is a serious matter that parents should be aware of. One of the top causes of psychiatric disorder to a child is through cyber-bullying, which seems to be normal nowadays over social networks, which makes it more alarming.
They can become distant and less sociable
Technology and social networks’ general idea is to make it easier for people to express themselves and communicate with each other through the digital world, but in reality, it says otherwise. Kids being too engrossed in technology can hurt their Emotional Intelligence. Note that EQ is essential to understand people, make proper interaction, and build genuine personal relationships. Another thing is, being too engaged in the digital world will distract them from the real world, leading them to isolation. At a young age, the child should mingle to develop his social skills – and isolation will just make him struggle in communicating with others in person and making friends, which in time may cause loneliness and more distance from others.
The physical development of a child can be highly affected by too much screen time and technology use. Gadgets can be very entertaining to kids which makes them prefer to sit or lie down while they watch their favorite cartoons, play their games, and browse the internet – this causes a child to become unfit and unhealthy. Children are starting to choose technology over experiencing the natural joys of playing outside, doing sports, and other activities that will keep the body moving, which is essential to a child. Sometimes, kids would even feel irritated when they’re bothered and asked to help in the chores.
Face-to-face contact is highly needed at a young age to fully develop. And, when a child continually ignores people around and chooses to fix his eyes on a gadget, this is where a negative impact on a child’s social skills and emotional intelligence happens. Children will be uninterested to mingle with people around them, be it family or friends. As long as they’re engrossed in their gadget, they will most likely leave all their attention there. As mentioned earlier, technology also makes a child lazy which pulls him away from doing the norms of children which is to help with chores and play with other kids. When a child isn’t exposed to an adequate amount of personal interaction, their confidence may also be affected and may lead to low self-esteem.
May develop computer vision syndrome
Computer Vision Syndrome or CVS is caused by prolonged gadget usage (computer, tablets, cell phones, TV). This causes blurred vision, eye strain, and burning eyes.
The longer the digital screen time, the higher the possibility this may occur to a person, young ones and adult. Children are prone to this since gadgets demand the eyes to move around, which can cause too much stress on their eyes that are not fully developed yet.
What should you do instead?
You have the time to properly discipline your child when it comes to the usage of technology, especially when they’re not exposed yet to the social whirl of school. You even have the choice to totally not introduce technology to them! But eventually, as your child grows, he will be exposed to the reality of a world run by technology. This will challenge your parental skills on how to help you balance your child’s digital and real world. And fear not! Here are things you can do to help you out:
Schedule gadget and internet use
Kids may not notice and be aware of how much time they’ve been using their gadgets – and, during this time is when a child starts to get more addicted. One way to avoid this is to set some strict rules they should follow. You can set a time and time limit for them you use their phones and browse the internet. But even though you’ve sent some rules, children can have the tendency to sneak their devices and go on with their digital activities. One thing you can do to make sure they don’t totally get away with this is to set your router to block internet access in certain time of the day, let’s say during their bedtime at 9 pm.
Set limits on usage
You can set a rule and precedent of the only times they can enjoy their devices, watch tv, and such. An effective trick is to allow them to play with their gadgets after school and after chores – this way, kids will know how to prioritize this important stuff rather than entertaining themselves. At a young age, kids should not be comfortable in using gadgets anytime they want to.
As for media usage, be sure to make limits on what they do with the internet. Keep track of the shows they watch, games they play, and websites they visit. Only allow activities that are suitable for their age and can benefit them. There are a lot of programs that can mentally challenge your child and help him build the necessary skills. You can do some research and install applications that will encourage your child to learn while on his gadget. Blocking websites that are not suitable for them is also possible through the internet browser’s settings.
Watch and Play with them
You and your child can bond over technology – now this is one of the best benefits you can get out of tech! When you see your kid watching a video, join him and talk to him about some parts which will encourage him to socialize in person. When you see him playing games, play with him – the game may even have a multiplayer version which makes it more exciting for the both of you. In this way, you will also be able to keep track of what your child is seeing and learning.
Have a talk with them
This is one of the best ways – have a serious and life teaching discussion with your child. As adults and parents, we are here to guide children and prepare them for the real world. Make them realize that life is short and should be spent enjoying the company of others, doing physical activities, being recreational, and all other real world stuff. At a young age, they should realize that there is more to learn and experience in life without the engagement of technology.
Be an example
Children are highly influenced by their parents’ actions. Set yourself as an example and follow the rules you created if you expect your child to follow them, too. You can start by showing that you are not actively watching TV, playing games, and browsing the internet whole day. Also, be sure to put your phones away in time with family, kids will learn how to do the same and appreciate the company more. Always remember that kids may intentionally and unintentionally follow what you do.
Games for kids to play
If you are worried your child will be too engrossed in the technology world, initiate other activities that will distract them from their gadgets. They should experience having fun in other ways besides playing their favorite game on their tablet. Expose them to nature and recreational activities that will allow them to build essential life skills and help in their proper development. Here are some games your child can play in the real world to keep them away from screen time:
Go to the playground
Children seem to spend more and more time indoors with their tablets, phones, and TV. Don’t allow your child to prefer this kind of lifestyle and teach them how to play and socialize outside – starting on the playground! By playing outdoors with other kids, it will allow them to socialize and run and jump around which is like exercise for them. Playing outside will also make them have a feeling of independence by learning how to play on their own, pick up themselves when they fall, and by figuring out how to use other unfamiliar playing equipment without direct adult supervision.
Engage them in an outdoor sport
Sports is not simply playtime, it will make the kids feel like it is, but really it is a life-changing game teaching various skills. It comes with other benefits for the physical, mental, and social well-being. Kids can engage in sports like swimming, any ball games, karate, dancing, and the likes. These will not just enhance their total well-being, but allow them to make realizations and learn how to understand relationships through teamwork, comforting each other for losses, by accepting defeats together, and simply supporting each other through the challenge. Now, these are important skills a child should learn at an early age.
Have fun and educational toys around
An actual physical game can have more benefits than games that require a child to fix his eyes on the screen for a long period. Making them play on an actual educational toy will allow them to release some of their extra energy. The right toys will help them develop their creative skills, cognitive skills, motor skills, and problem-solving skills. So, have some engaging toys around them and encourage them to play with it rather than leaving them glued to the screen.
Play with board games
Board games – ah… classic! This fun and engaging learning material just overflow with benefits! A child can learn a lot from these. From teaching them how to plan in advance for their next move, learning how to play by the rules, and improving their interactive and social skills with other players. There’s a wide range of kinds of games you can choose from that can challenge specific skills.
Okay, so you want to be in the comforts of an indoor place while your child has this extra energy that needs to be released. Do not always opt for the comforts of your own home and keep your kids distracted with their devices hoping for them to stay still, be entertained for the longest time, and eventually be sleepy. Instead, visit an indoor playground! Most of these facilities have an area for adults to stay and relax while their kids have the time of their lives playing and socializing with other children. Indoor playgrounds are safe and secure with complete facilities for the comforts of the child and adult.
Games to play with kids
While our kids are young, we should spend time together with them as much as possible, like playing games with them! Times go fast nowadays, and before you know it, your little kiddo is starting to enter the young adult stage. Besides this, playing with them will keep them away from devices and lessen their screen time, which is also one of our goals as a parent. This will also allow the child to feel your full attention and make them feel loved more. So, here are games you can play with your child instead of leaving them alone with their devices.
Scavenger Hunt in the Backyard
A Scavenger hunt is a game that kids will surely have fun with and at the same time help them develop critical skills. This a game which will excite both adults and children with the thrill of finding objects. Whenever a child becomes successful in finding certain items on the list, this would make them feel fulfilled, lifting their self-esteem. Besides improving a child’s physical condition, this game can teach them to pay more attention, become good listeners, cooperate, and navigate on their own – in which they will experience independence. Of course, parents can join them in hunting instead of conducting the game. Both parent and child can go together and help each other – this just equals the benefit a child can get from doing it on his own. They can bond together and the child would feel the strong support of his parents.
Having a shared sport with your child is one of the best bonds you can do together. It requires teamwork and encouraging each other. This is not simply just playing, it’s an activity that requires a challenge, physically and mentally. And of course, this will encourage the kids to live a healthy and active lifestyle, which gives out a LOT of benefits. This will also reduce their time on using their devices.
Board games are classic, educational, fun, and never gets old. Certain board games can enhance kids grammar and vocabulary, cognitive skills, logic, and planning skills. Besides improving a child’s development, it will also help in strengthen the family bond and make each member closer to each other.
Play “I spy” during a road trip
Plan for a road trip with the kids with no devices allowed – but expect them to get bored. This is why playing the I spy game can help them get through boredom and at the same time be educational for them. This game can help children become more observant about the environment, learn to acquire knowledge visually, and allow them to demonstrate their understanding of what they see when it’s their turn saying the I Spy clues.
If you just want to stay indoors but want to keep your child away from their devices, then indoor activities are the way to go. You can have fun with the kids in the comforts of your own home and it will just be as fun as playing outdoors. There is a lot to choose from. You can play hide and seek, cook up a dish together, be creative and do some paintings, do a home workout or even do chores together!
If you want your child to learn essential life skills at a young age and develop properly, they should be exposed more to the real world and not the virtual world. Indoor playgrounds are indoor play centers for young kids. It consists of safe and secure play areas, lounge areas for the adults, and clean facilities.
An indoor playground’s goal is to provide kids a chance to engage in physical and social activities by keeping the kids in a play area with other children and providing playing equipment. They usually have a wide range of activities that can stimulate a child’s brain – helping to develop essential skills. Parents can also be at ease because indoor playgrounds are always meant to be a safe learning environment.