The technological era has helped us move closer to future. But, while we look at it as a boon, it is also a curse. It has been making our lives easier in many ways, but we have also become quite dependent on it. It is changing the way we live, influencing the way we behave and altering the way we think. You can only imagine the implications it would have on our children?
How is this habit actually built?
Children of the present generation are overly smart, extremely restless & active. They spend their free time in front of the T.V. or are constantly exposed to smartphones. They have been influenced by this drastic technological change that has taken place over the years due to a large number of reasons:
1. Smartphones have become a modern pacifier. They can calm kids down and keep them quiet, but they can also be addictive. You can give them to children and they will not bother you. For the kid, it’s a miraculous world that he wants to be a part of. Thus, once he gets to know of its existence, he yearns for it every spare minute and becomes quite demanding.
2. Children who belong to a household where both parents are busy working are often found to entertain themselves with a smartphone or the T.V. since the parents do not find the time /patience or are too tired to spend quality time after work.
3. Parents live under this false pretext that exposure to the T.V., smartphones, Ipads & Tablets have a positive, effect on children’s creativity and educational use and not a negative effect.
4. Some young people are wedded to their smartphones/IPad/Consoles because online they can achieve considerable success in games and gain status.
5. There are complex issues to deal with: sustained peer pressure, competition over who has the most friends on Facebook or who is scoring the highest in a game.
6. Moreover, the sheer, fast-paced insatiability of social networking sites, which makes them so exciting, also creates a pressure to keep up and contribute.
7. Some young people get addicted to technology since they start living double lives. For example; someone who is extremely shy in school, and who does not have friends can be someone who has many friends online which in turn can make them feel better.
During my experience as a School Counselor, I have had parents telling me that they would prefer to not let their children own their own mobile phone until they are old enough. As a parent, they have mentioned that would consider the purpose of a gadget before they buy it for their children
Why are gadgets bad for kids?
Gadgets have a massive negative effect on children today. Children are found to:
1. Carry a much higher risk of childhood obesity. They do not take part in the outdoor play and run a high risk of becoming “couch potatoes”.
2. Are more likely to display aggressive behaviour. Children naturally model what they see.
3. Have less energy & harder time concentrating in school.
4. Show that having a video or TV on when a child is doing something else can distract them from play and learning, which can negatively affect their development.
5. Hours of background TV has also been found to reduce child–parent interaction, which has an adverse impact on language development. And this displacement is a big concern: if kids are left with screen-based babysitters, then they are not interacting with caregivers and the physical world. There are only so many hours in a day, and the time spent with screens comes at the expense of other, potentially better, activities. Younger children, in particular, need a balance of activities, including instructed play, exploring the natural environment, manipulating physical toys and socialising with other children and grown-ups. The rise in screen use means less of all these things.
6. Another problematic aspect of screens is that they have been shown to disrupt sleep. The blue light emitted by the super-sharp displays can interfere with our natural bodily rhythms, preventing melatonin, an important sleep hormone, from being released. This, in turn, can lead to sleep impairments in children.
7. Today’s children see the internet as a basic necessity. In this bargain, they have a compulsive desire to not wait for something to happen. This instant gratification is the worst for a child because they don’t want to grow up to understand how difficult it is to acquire or achieve something.
You must understand that the importance of a child’s healthy development involves social interaction, creative imaginative play and an engagement with the real, natural world. Unfortunately, the immersive and addictive world of screens dampens and stunts those developmental processes which are vital.
Regardless of our feelings towards tablets and smartphones, these devices are here to stay. So how do we get the most out of them?
Younger and younger children are more engaged with technology and the internet and we need to be mindful of that and set boundaries from the beginning of life
What can a parent do to reduce a child’s screen time?
Set an Example:
Children will always gravitate toward the modelled behaviours of their parents. If they see you reading a book, they are more likely to read. And if they see you watching television, so will they.
Be the Parent:
It is your job to encourage healthy behaviours and limit unhealthy ones sometimes this means making unpopular decisions. Make these tough decisions for your children. And always go the next step of explaining why you have made the decision this will help them follow through and someday choose it for themselves.
Set Limited Viewing Times:
If you are not going to turn off the television completely, choose the appropriate television viewing windows/ timings for your kids. It is much easier to limit their viewing habit if they understand that they can only watch one show during the day.
Encourage Other Activities:
Provide the necessary resources like books to read, board games, art supplies, and/or sporting equipment so that your child can have more than one things to do.
Is it worth it or deemed fit:
Don’t buy a gadget because your children want to fit in with their social circle? Buy it only if you are convinced of it is utility and if it fits your affordability.
Play with your Kids:
Spend more time with your children, kids who are found to be lonely are more likely to look for a sort of companionship in gadgets. For example get down on the floor with your kids and pick up a doll. It takes intentionality and selfless love when they are younger. But when they grow up, you’ll be glad you did.
Be Involved in Their Lives:
For many parents, it is just easier to turn on the television than to actually be involved in the lives of their children. But those intimate life details are required for successful parenting. So observe, listen, ask, and parent.
Create Tech free zones at home:
Limiting your child’s screen time may seem like an impossible chore or it may seem like a battle that is too difficult to fight. But it is worth fighting.