It is simply impossible to imagine our life without phones, tablets, computers, and other gadgets these days. Modern kids become increasingly dependant on electronic devices, and every year their reliance on them grows exponentially. Even ten-year-olds know how to edit an essay with a help of paper editor and get an A+!
In some families, a phone or computer has completely replaced grandmother’s tales, mother’s lullabies, and conversations with fathers. Electronic devices are increasingly becoming the main educators of our children. According to UNESCO, 93% of modern kids aged 3 to 5 spend 28 hours a week using their gadgets, and only 4 hours a day communicating with their family members.
Doctors and psychologists have identified several development problems in children who are highly dependant on their gadgets. In addition to the deterioration of vision, they also suffer from problems with posture, and reduced physical activity.
1. Devices Affect Preschoolers’ Development
Imaginative and spatial thinking skills are only formed at a preschool age, so games and applications on smartphones can slow down kids’ development. No video will convey the roundness of the ball or the hexagonal shape of a wooden pencil that we squeeze with our fingers. By watching them, children can get information but are unable to process it correctly.
Rather playing outdoor games with others, when a kid spends a long time using a tablet, phone or computer, they cease to think independently. Why should they if the developer has done all the job for them? Therefore, it is important for their parents to come up with some interesting ways of spending their leisure time. Otherwise, the consequences will be pretty much disastrous.
The first one is a lag in speech development. Nowadays, parents and teachers are increasingly complaining about the delay in speech development: their children begin to speak at a later age, and when they finally do, their speech turns out to be rather primitive. Therefore, a special speech therapy is necessary for almost every kid in a kindergarten.
According to various studies, 25% of 4-year-olds suffer from impaired speech development. In the mid-1970s, speech deficiency was observed in only 4% of children of the same age. Over the last 20 years, the number of speech disorders has increased by more than 6 times!
And it’s pretty easy to explain: kids using gadgets constantly hear human speech. Does not saturation with audible speech contribute to speech development? So, does it really matter who speaks with a child – an adult or a cartoon character?
The difference is huge. Speech is not imitation of someone else’s words, nor is it about memorizing speech patterns. Mastering speech at an early age occurs only through direct communication, and it requires the baby not only to listen to other people’s words but also respond to them.
The kid communicates with their parents not only through hearing and articulation but also through their actions, thoughts and feelings. If you want them to speak properly, you need to make sure that human speech accompanies them in all their actions, and, most importantly, in their communication with their parents. Speech sounds that are not directed at your child do not imply an answer and as such, they do not induce them to action, nor cause any images in their minds to appear.
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2. Impact on Teenagers’ Lives
The Monitoring the Future survey conducted among high school students since 1975 found that teenagers are increasingly more dissatisfied with their lives. This is directly related to the amount of time they spend on the Internet. The more time they spend on social networks, the more often they admit that they are dissatisfied with their lives and their mood.
Doctors claim that iGeneration are withdrawn, lonely, and depressed. Despite the possibilities social networks provide them with, many teenagers still lack communication. However, some of them may deny this fact and claim that they’re quite happy with their lives.
In addition to the need for constant communication, teenagers are beginning to demand more attention to themselves. And if they don’t get enough of it, they start feeling lower.
This is especially true of girls. Since 2010, the number of young females unhappy about their virtual life has increased by 48%. The reason for this is the posts in social networks where someone else’s life seems better, more interesting and more diverse than their own.
Many modern kids are addicted to likes and comments. The evaluation of friends is very important to them. Some admit that they can be seriously upset because of insufficient attention to their Instagram profile. In addition, the Internet becomes a convenient platform for cyberbullying, where you can release your aggression in comments and get away with it with perfect impunity.
3. How to Reduce Negative Impact of Gadgets on Kids
Since it is impossible to completely eliminate gadgets from modern life, psychologists recommend:
- Limiting the time your kid spends with gadgets. It should be no more than two hours a day, with a break every 20-30 minutes. During the break, they can do some exercises, play, walk, dance or sing.
- Showing your kid how to sit correctly. In order for the child’s posture not to be damaged during the game on the tablet, you need to show them how to sit with their back straight.
- Spending more time on handy gadgets and mobile not only damages their eyesight. But also leaves a long-lasting impression on kids’ minds.
- Realistic CGI-characters and inventive mobile games, ultimately force kids to live in the virtual world.
- Picking really informative computer games and applications that will motivate your kid to read, write, and count. They should also develop their logical thinking skills and concentration.
- Spending less time with your own gadgets. Children learn about the world through their parents. So, check how much time you spend with your phone, tablet or computer and be prepared to change yourself.
- Keeping in mind that no advanced gadgets can be a replacement of real communication with your children.
Do not allow your child to spend too much time in the virtual world. Let them know about the interesting things happening in real life. And remember: if you let your kid use their gadgets under your supervision, they can make good progress in their training and development.
Psychologists also advise parents to control the time that their children spend on social networks. According to them, teenagers who spend more than 2 hours a day on their smartphone are more susceptible to depression and suicidal feelings, suffer from sleeping problem, have poor health and experience mood swings.
Fortunately, many teenagers are beginning to understand the detrimental effect of gadgets on their lives. They complain about their friends being unwilling to communicate with them and not responding to their remarks.