Australian children as young as four years old are spending approximately 2.2 hours each weekday watching tv screens and using devices. These figures are only increasing to 3.3 hours as your child reaches the age of 12 and 13.
Effects of technology are long and varied
The long and varied list of the effects on technology include online addiction, access to inappropriate content, reduced physical activity, security, hacking, online predators, sleep difficulties and family conflict. Along with these listed effects, an increase in technology uses includes affected family harmony and wellbeing.
Television has been around since 1954 and in Australia since 1956. Within this period were the days that those who were fortunate enough to have a television often watched television as a whole family activity. But gone are these days.
New technology offers children independence from their parents’ involvement in their social lives with social media networking websites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Some parents can see this as a loss of connection, but it can’t be deemed all the children’s fault. In fact, parents can be seen to be as much consumed by technology as their offspring.
With the advances in Smart phones involving all aspects of our lives; from seeing what others are doing to browsing and reading books. Most of us have our work and personal life all on one device. From e-mails to the ‘ping’ sound at dinner time.
Children are born to learn
It is no fact that children are born to learn and socialise. We have known this fact that without social interaction, relationships and friendships we are denied connections and bonds, that are a core part of being humans. These are explained in Maslow’s theory of basic human needs.
Nowadays, modern family lifestyle often consists of microwave dinners, TV and iPad babysitters which seem to be the way of living now. Yet we have all heard about the numerous studies and warnings on how harmful these are for our society and the impact this will have in generations to come. We are already seeing the scary evidence.
Effects on children’s learning
According to Kristy Goodwin, a former teacher and education researcher studied the effect of technology on children’s learning which was highlighted in an SBS Insights Segment.
Benefits of using devices to create content for storytelling, movie making, creating animations or coding. However, complaints include screen time causing myopia, a condition of the eye where light focuses in the front of the retina instead of the surface, resulting in blurred vision. The research showed that the premature introduction of screens, before the eyes have time to develop was the cause of the condition. Another complaint when it comes to kids and technology is the way screens can captivate and hijack their attention.
The state of insufficiency
There are two main reasons why we all find it so hard to digitally disconnect from our phones.
- The brain releases neurotransmitter dopamine. Looking at social media will give our brain dopamine hits. Dopamine is associated with the pleasure system of the brain. This in turn motivates us to do, or continue to do, certain activities.
- When we’re online, particularly on our phones, Goodwin says “…we enter something called the state of insufficiency. We never, ever feel done. We never, ever feel complete.”
We have all seen the trance like looks on children’s faces- the tantrums and those videos that have gone viral on social media showing children ‘losing the plot’ and having demonic screaming meltdowns due to the lack or removal of access to Wifi or their computer games.
Overall, technology is here to stay. Advice for parents is to be proactive and control it. Don’t fear it. Set boundaries, install parental controls and educate your children on the dangers associated with technology and appropriate information.
Consider how the online world is affecting the way we use our finances and the important lessons our children are missing out on as we move towards a cashless society.