In today’s world Technology is everywhere. We use computers for almost everything in everyday life, including “babysitting” our children. Computers can have both positive and negative effects on children, while some of the negative effects on health and development are unseen. As adults, we understand the physical world around us and the concepts inside computer programs. Children, on the other hand, need to learn this with traditional play and outdoor activities. Adults, over about 30, know the world without computers. Our younger generations are starting to use computers at very a young age. They are maturing in a world of instant answers and satisfaction. The first of many issues is obesity. Computers are contributing to our growing epidemic of childhood obesity. Children no longer go out and entertain themselves with physical activities, like riding bicycles, playing outdoors with friends and sports. They are now leading more sedentary lives watching television, playing gaming systems, texting on phones or socializing on the internet.
In fact, “the reported screen time varied greatly by age, however, ranging from 2 to 3 hours per day for ages 2 to 7, to nearly 6 hours per day for ages 8 to 13”. (Subrahmanyam, Kraut, Greenfield, Gross 2000 p 125) Our Children need to be guided and supervised so they get the benefits of technology, but not to cross the fine line to cause ill effects. There are also negative, unseen physical and psychological effects of technology. Carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis have been reported in repeated over use of wrist and thumbs. Seizure activity has also been report due to the flashing effects on the screens. To help reduce these problems, children should take breaks every 20 to 30 minutes. The break will not only rest their eyes, wrists and hands, it also increases circulation and relieves tension. In addition to negative physical effects, there can also be negative behavioral and social effects, as well. For instance, many children now have their own computers, televisions and gaming systems in their bedrooms.
“The computer often may be used in solitude, robbing children of time for social activities and interfering with the development and maintenance of friendships.” (Subrahmanyam, Kraut, Greenfield, Gross 2000 p 131) Often too much isolation can lead to loneliness and depression. Children need to learn self-control and how to pay attention without computers. They can achieve this by giving them plenty of play time outdoors to stimulate imagination and learning. Gaming systems have been linked to negative behavioral effects and “The potential for violent games to cause increases in hostility and aggression. Such games are also believed by some to desensitize players to violence and to other peoples’ suffering”. (Debell, Chapman 2006 p 4) Majority of children are aware of the rating system for videos and games, while majority of their parents are not.
Parents need to not only limit computer and gaming time, for children. They need to supervise them and keep technology and content age appropriate. On the other hand, technology can have a positive effect on learning and education. Computers can help children from preschool age up through college. Younger children play more learning and educational games to assist in school readiness, In one study, two groups of preschoolers were tested for school readiness. One group (experimental) participated in computer assisted learning, while the second group (control) was given a traditional curriculum. “The experimental group performed significantly better than the control group on the school readiness test”. (Li, Atkins, Stanton 2006 p 239) This test did not have any evidence for motor skills that children also need. Finally, Older and College bound students are using computers for online education, communication, information and research.
The internet provides a vast amount of information that is available at your fingertips and the click of a button. Technology has also made it possible to attend school online, which for working adult. This is a great advantage to be able to continue education on a tight schedule. Even, as older students and adults, we need to pay attention to the information accessed and the time we spend on the computer. “The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to limit time spent with media and to emphasize alternate activities and physical play”. (Subrahmanyam, Kraut, Greenfield, Gross 2000 p 140) Computers have become an important part of everyday life and people will grow more dependent on them as technology progresses. Technology is not a cure for schools, but can be part of the improvement for learning as long as it is used correctly, with caution, awareness and well supervision. This can help children benefit from computers while avoiding the possible problems. Technology will continue to enhance and stimulate learning, but further studies and research, on what is beneficial and its effects are needed.
Effects of Technology on Children DeBell, M., Chapman, C. (2006). Computer and Internet use by students in 2003 (NCES 2006-065). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, D.C: National Center for Education Statistics. This study was conducted by U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. “This report uses data from the October 2003 Current Population Survey (CPS) to examine the use of computers and the Internet in nursery school and students in kindergarten through grade 12. (DeBell, Chapman 2006). It addresses computer and internet use by parent (education level and income, household types, Spanish and not Spanish only, metropolitan and poverty status) and student (grade level, sex, race/ethnicity, physical disability status and public or private school enrollment). They further break these areas down into number of students and Internet use locations (own or someone else’s home, school or public library) and reasons for computer/internet use.
There are multiple tables and graphs for me study and compare. It helps me to see how these statistics contribute to the effects on children. I am able to use the information in this study to compare the findings to that of my other sources and see how close their findings are. Li, X., Atkins, M. S., & Stanton, B. (2006).
Effects of home and school computer use on school readiness and cognitive development among head start children: A randomized controlled pilot trial. Merrill – Palmer Quarterly, 52(2), 239-263. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/230095046?accountid=158686 This study reviews the effects on Head start readiness testing using computers. The children were tested in the areas of: school readiness, visual and gross motor skills, and cognitive development. They performed an initial test and a follow up test of the children, months later, and compared the results. They found that the children, ages three to five years, who used computers, scored higher with computers in school and home. They divide the results by age, sex income, siblings (younger and older), parent level of education, access and frequency of use, to computers outside of school. This study assists me in using younger children in my comparison. It is important to find and maintain the fine line of beneficial and too much. Subrahmanyam, K., Kraut, R.E., Greenfield, P.M., Gross, E.F. (2000).
The Impact of home computer use on Children’s activities and development. The Future of Children; Fall 2000; 10, 2; ProQuest Psychology Journals pg. 123-144 This research covers many different factors involved in the effects, both positive and negative, on children’s use of computers and its effects on them. It addresses the displacement of other activities (physical and social), physical wellbeing (obesity, tendonitis, seizures), cognitive skills development, academic performance, gender gaps. As well as, social development and relationships, social effects of computer gaming, moderation, children’s perception of reality, links to loneliness, depression and violent behaviors and greater access to information. They have included tables that explain the computer game rating system and communication option available online. The touch on all these subjects but because technology is fairly new more research is needed to further study to long term outcomes.
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