Every once in a while, we take a trip down memory lane and relive the days of our childhood, before technology, when everything was much simpler. Children today look at the world through a small lens, one at the back of a device they constantly hold in their hands. About 25 years ago, the idea of a child having fun was playing with friends in the park or building a fort inside the living room. Having fun didn’t require expensive devices or constant parental supervision. The world children lived in two decades ago was technology free and simple.
Analogue Days of the Past
Children had chores that they had to complete on a daily basis and family time was imperative. Every evening, families would sit around the dining table and share stories of their day as they ate dinner. But the families we see today are much different than what they used to be. In the 21st century, technology is all there is for kids. It isn’t only taking their childhood away but it is also fracturing their basic foundations.
Every child needs a set of instilled family values that help them realize what is at stake when they hurt those closest to them. It comes from proper parenting and a normal childhood. Kids today spend most of their free time using apps on their smartphones. Instead of playing outside with their actual friends, they play with them online from behind their computer screens. These kids rely excessively on their smart devices and it has a major impact on their sensory and motor development. Such technology is giving way to chaotic sensory stimulation in kids that is resulting in delayed development causing children to achieve literacy later than they are actually supposed to.
“The difference between technology and slavery is that slaves are fully aware that they are not free.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Children and Technology: Constant Need for Entertainment
In 2010, Kaiser Foundation’s study showed that children in elementary school spend an average of 7.5 hours every day using their smart devices for the sake of entertainment. 75 percent of these kids have televisions in their own bedrooms and 50 percent of the homes in North America have their televisions constantly switched on. Remember when you had to finish all of your homework on a Thursday before mom would allow you to watch TV for just an hour, and only for cartoons?
What Technology is Doing to Children
So what exactly is the impact of all this on children all over the world? Rapidly advancing technology is doing these children more harm than good by increasing the rates of physical, psychological, and behavioral disorders among them. Child obesity has become an epidemic in not only the United States but also in Canada and even Mexico. There are more cases of coordination disorder, developmental delays as well as sleeping disorders in children that are associated with the excessive use of technology. This is growing at an alarming rate and health and education systems all over the world are only beginning to realize what technology is doing to children.
What a Child Needs
There are four basic factors that a child needs to develop properly: movement, human connection, exposure to nature and nurturing. These four factors lead to bilateral coordination, optimal arousal states, posture development as well as the necessary skills a child needs to get admission into a school. Children under the age of 10 require at least 3 hours a day of outdoor activities to stimulate their tactile systems.
“We all need a technological detox; we need to throw away our phones and computers instead of using them as our pseudo-defense system for anything that comes our way. We need to be bored and not have anything to use to shield the boredom away from us. We need to be lonely and see what it is we really feel when we are. If we continue to distract ourselves so we never have to face the realities in front of us, when the time comes and you are faced with something bigger than what your phone, food, or friends can fix, you will be in big trouble.”
Evan Sutter, Solitude: How Doing Nothing Can Change The World
By spending an average of 7.5 hours a day glued to a phone, children are wasting valuable time that they could use developing their skills. We suppose parents are to blame for this. Even in an age of technology, the use of it can still be limited if parents are vigilant enough in doing so. The world does not deserve to be seen through Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook. It deserves to be seen through your eyes.