"It is not what technology does to us, it is what we do to technology. Get smart with technology, chose wisely and use it in a way that benefits both you and those around you"
Children today use technology more than ever. Most of them have easy internet access and cell phones, and spend hours texting friends, creating online videos and social networking.
Technology is providing many advantages, such as immediate access to information and easy communication with family and friends. However, it also has a negative impact on the intellectual and social development of our kids.
Today, I would like to create awareness about how technology is impacting the way children think and interact with others, and what you, as a parent can do to help your kids use it wisely.
- Technology affects your child’s focus and memory: A scientific research has shown that when kids are constantly distracted and interrupted, as they tend to be when looking at the screens of their computers and mobile phones, their thoughts become disjointed and their memory become weak.
- Technology affects our children’s sleep: In a recent study on technology and its impact on children’s sleep, researchers found that kids aged from 11 to 13 slept significantly less, due to late night networking.
- Kids lose face-to-face interactions: Most of the time, kids will choose playing with an ipad or even texting over playing with a friend. When it becomes an addiction, it causes children to miss out an important social learning with family and friends.
- Many kids, especially teens, engage in inappropriate conversations on social networks: while it is the trend nowadays to be part of a “group chat” on WhatsApp which helps your child connect with others, children are using inappropriate vocabulary or even sending private pictures and videos. This can be harmful and cause others to use them to offend your child.
- Cyber-bullying is very frequent: technology has provided some people to use internet to post texts or photos intended to hurt or embarrass another person. Be careful! Actions steps to help your kids avoid the negative effects of technology:
- Ensure safety on the internet: such as controlling the privacy setting on all social networks. It is important to explain to your child that online means forever. After something had been posted, IT CAN’T BE DELETED!
- Limit “screen time”: The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends limiting “screen time” to a maximum of two hours a day, or else it becomes an addiction which seriously affects the release of dopamine in the brain of your child.
- No screens before bedtime: Most screens these days use LCD that emit blue light that inhibit sleep. Make sure you take your child’s mobile or ipad at least one hour before bedtime. Replace it instead with a good book or soft music as they calm down the stimulation of the brain.
- Encourage time spending on other activities: such as face-to-face conversations and hobbies. It can help strengthen sense of self and confidence, as well as social interactions and skills.
- Parental role modeling: Ever catch yourself checking your email, using you mobile or watching TV while your child talk to you? Stop using the device and communicate with your child face to face. This will help establish empathy and also set a good example.
The demand for parents to stay informed and aware is becoming critical. Make sure to Increase your understanding about the technology and social networks your kids are using and remember to stay open to discussion. Asking a child to stop using technology devices is not possible and will not help. The impact of technology and social network on children can be beneficial if we, parents understand that it is possible to maintain control by being involved in our children’s lives.
Youth, Parent and Family Coach