Today’s Children and the Technology That Absorbs Them
I was at the playground the other day with the kids, and their playmate sits in to play. “You know what’s fun?” The boy asks me. I say, “What’s fun?” He rants on about Minecraft and other video games that have a rather violent nature to them such as Call of Duty. Things in my opinion an elementary school child shouldn’t be playing. In a moment, he pretends two sticks are a bow and arrow and I am filled with joy that he has found something “creative” besides video games. That is, until he says, “Yeah, it’s like the bow and arrow I can make on Minecraft!” That comment makes me want to shake my head.
I decide to ask him, “What is your favorite thing to do besides video games?” He tells me, “I like watching videos on YouTube.” I respond, “Oh, I see. What do you like to do besides video games and YouTube?” He smiles and confidently says, “I like to play Angry Birds on the tablet!” At this point, I want to slam my face into my palm. I then said, “Besides all of that, what is your favorite thing to do?” He gave me this blank stare and said, “I dunno.” Each conversation turned back to the video games. He even begs me for a tablet or cell phone to play with since he didn’t have one with him to play. I didn’t realize how badly a child could be addicted to technology. This made me wonder how many cases there were out there.
Technology Addiction in Children
Technology addiction. It’s one of those phrases that breaks my heart, especially when the addict is the child. I was once a technology addict, but I’ll save that for another post. Unfortunately, I can somewhat relate to how some of these kids are feeling. I wasted many teenage years hooked to a computer. What do these children feel when one day they realize their experiences of the world were in front of a screen? What a void they must feel. They become so accustomed to using fun tech. Eventually, they are allowed on these devices a lot of the time or when they feel “bored”, but the time they are on them increases if the parents do not set time limits and restrictions. Eventually, it can spiral out of control.
The Nature They Are Missing
Natural play is being seen as more and more important to development in children. It also has stress and anxiety relief properties for adults. I don’t know about you, but I remember making mud pies, climbing trees, swinging from a rope tied to a tree, and picking up ants with my fingers and placing them in a bucket. We would spend almost all day playing outside. This was the childhood I had and I wouldn’t change it for the world. How many children today can say that they were able to do the things in nature that previous generations did? How many children are losing an important connection with nature? The sad part is…it isn’t exactly all their fault.
Robbing Their Creativity
There doesn’t need to be any studies on this to convince me that their creativity is being robbed from them while being mindless zombies in front of a screen. The moment I asked that boy, “What is your favorite thing to do besides video games, internet, or the tablet?” and he gave me this blank, clueless stare – I knew. When I further asked, “Do you like to build things?” and he says, “Oh yeah! I love building on Minecraft!” This child does not even understand his own interests, or what hobbies he excels at outside of video games. It’s all game, game, game. What is going to happen in life when children aren’t learning hardly anything outside of their games? It sounds like a recipe for depression, frustration, anger issues, anxiety, and more. This is especially true if they aren’t getting Vitamin D out in the sun.
How Bad Is The Epidemic?
There are so many new tech gadgets that come out that it is nearly impossible to keep up. A great majority in the world own cell phones. Up to 75% – 95% of the world has a cellular device. About 1 billion people worldwide have a tablet. Over 50% of American households own a gaming console. More than 80% of American households have internet access. The youngest technology addict being treated in the United Kingdom is only 4 years old. Toddlers are becoming so addicted to tablets that they need therapy. This should be an unpleasant ringing in our ears as to how easily it is for children to access tech and become addicted to it.
It Isn’t All Their Fault
These children are exposed to technology somewhere whether it is at home, with the babysitter/nanny, with other family members, or at a friend’s house. Children also easily form habits and routines. It is easy to start a habit, but it can take an awful long while to break them of it. If you let them watch a little much television or play a little too much game it can become a habit and increase. It is important for parents and guardians to regulate how much television or game time is appropriate for their children. The rest of the day is for going outside and playing creative activities when indoors. It is delightful to see children be able to make up their own games and let their imaginations soar.
Parents & Guardians = The Enablers?
As a parent, I don’t want to be an enabler to anything that will have a negative impact on my children. I hope that many parents or guardians feel this way. Some may give their child a tech screen to entertain them during a time where they need to focus. Perhaps both parents worked all day and are exhausted so they hand their child a tablet. Maybe there is a single parent that needs some time to relax and finds this the easiest way. It’s understandable, children will wear you out along with the events of your day. There are many ways to change this and help your child.
[Image Credit: Samantha Sophia at unsplash.com]