Technology has drastically changed the way people live. As a result of this, it has also directly affected the way kids are growing up in today's world. Some of these changes are for the better, others perhaps not so much. There are people who will argue technology has made life easier and is beneficial to kids. Others will disagree and say it has created problems.
The latter school of thought typically comes from older generations who grew up in and can remember a very different way of life before things were dramatically changed by technology. Many of the things they are remembering no longer exist in today's world since the birth of modern technology and its subsequent rapid growth.
Does technology hurt kids? Here are a few of the top arguments that support how technology has had a negative effect on kids:
In earlier generations, kids were taught the art of patience. If you wanted something, you had to wait until it was ready or available. While this still exists to some degree, in many ways it has changed. Today's kids quickly learn that if you want something, all you need to do is push a button or click a mouse.
Maybe this started with microwaves? Those who grew up in the pre-microwave era understood that food does not necessarily cook in minutes. Kids today are not accustomed to that concept because all they've ever known is fast ways to cook. And, if you don't want to cook it, there's always the drive through window.
The special feelings Saturday morning cartoons used to bring is non-existent since today's television lineups have multiple channels with children's programming 24/7. Not to mention streaming, on-demand and other similar services. Kids today will never know the feelings of anticipation in waiting all week for cartoons or other special programming. If teens want to listen to a favorite song, they can hop online and search it on the web. No longer do they patiently wait sitting with ear to the radio or an eye on MTV hoping to catch their favorite tune.
One might argue whether or not immediate access is such a terrible thing, the convenience is great, no doubt about it. However, over the course of time, how can this not affect the dynamics of how people think? Seems improbable - isn't it going to have some sort of behavioral effect?
Society today is growing larger than they had in previous decades. It also has started in childhood. According to a 2013 report in the Times-Tribune, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past three decades. 1 Often this is attributed to technology. Starting with the invention of the remote television, technology has only made life more convenient, and erodes the necessity to move around.
Kids today spend time hanging out with friends on the on social media or in live gaming. They are texting, snap chatting and Skyping. Rarer are afternoons and weekends spent roaming the neighborhoods, climbing trees or playing in the backyard the primary recreational activity. Even toddlers learn early on the mesmerizing aspects of television and toys which are based on digital beeps, voices, images and sounds. They inherently know what to do with these devices, even at that young age.
This is a sensitive topic because morals are so subjective and there are many gray areas when it comes to ethical beliefs. However, some may argue technology hurts kids because of the way it has eroded good decision-making and shapes moral fiber. For instance, illegal downloads are a hot issue in current day. Yet, according to a 2011 (small) study, college kids do not find this to be morally wrong. 2 Many kids regularly engage in piracy by downloading copyrighted songs and movies off the Internet. This perhaps goes back to the instant gratification argument. It has gotten to the point that since immediate results has essentially become the standard, many people, including adults, don't even realize their actions are wrong and are actually breaking intellectual copyright laws.
It can also be argued that technology has addiction qualities. Many kids, even when offered the opportunity to get outside and run around, are more content with video, handheld and computer games. How many times have you heard a child say, "Wait, I have to reach just one more level" or similar comment? Some kids may head straight to their Nintendo 3ds or Xbox the moment they awake and, if parents don't intervene, it could be hours before they'll emerge and be ready to socialize with others.
In days of yesteryear, kids lived a more carefree life than those growing up in today's automated world. Today's constant access to news feeds showcase the bad 24/7 and, as a result, has had an effect on parental fear.
Many parents are no longer secure in allowing their children to wander the neighborhoods and tend to keep a much more stringent watch on what kids do. Unfortunately, this often leads back to the television, digital toys and other gadgets because kids naturally gravitate towards these screens. Not to mention there are the dangers found on the online playground too.
It is sad today's children are living in a world filled with fear and trepidation. Parents are afraid of allowing their kids escape to the adventures of the outdoors and this is an indirect result thanks to technology.
With technology, like most things in life, the key is moderation.
It can be argued that technology hurts kids, but what about the positive effects on children?
In many ways technology has indeed improved the quality of life, but as with most progression, there are always tradeoffs to endure as new societal norms evolve. On the up side, there is an easy fix to the problems children are exposed to because of technology. Parental intervention. If parents take the time to offer guidance and teach responsible use, the harmful effects can be eliminated or, at least, reduced.
Either way, whether for good or bad, one thing that can't be argued is that technology hasn't affected our lives. Not to mention, technology is only going to continue to grow and innovative new ways to use it will be developed.
We just have to create a world where technology doesn't hurt kids.