Recently, I read an article where
it was recommended that handheld devices such as smart phones or tablets should
be banned for use by children.
This article made some salient points such as:
- Sitting and playing games on
handheld devices increases the possibility of delayed development. Moving
around has been found to enhance learning and physical development in children.
Some kids get up in the morning, sit and watch television then switch to a
handheld device such as a smart phone or tablet and continue hours and hours of
sedentary behaviour – never really moving from the spot they first sit.
- Studies have found that the use
of television and video games by children are associated with a rise in obesity
levels. Lack of physical movement is one of the reasons that 21
Century children are more overweight than previous generations and thus have a
greater chance of developing diseases such as diabetes and other illnesses such
as heart attacks and strokes. It is thought that, for the first time and
largely due to obesity, some of the children born today will not outlive their
- Children who spend time on
handheld devices often become sleep deprived and their school work and grades
slip. As anyone with a mobile phone who doesn’t turn off the sound or incoming
notifications at night knows, even an incoming message sound in the middle of
the night can wake you thus interrupting the solid sleep you need.
- There seems to be an increased problem
of aggressive behaviour in the real world in part, many believe, because of the
nature of games played in cyberspace. A game played online where over the top
violence is the norm does not allow the children playing these games to fully
understand the real time consequences of such violent and disrespectful
- As more and more parents become
addicted to technology themselves, they detach from their children thereby
leaving the children spending more time on their own – almost being babysat by
handheld devices and televisions. There are many studies which show that kids are
exhibiting addictive tendencies to electronic equipment, and that this
addictive behaviour is happening to younger and younger children.
- Despite the huge amount of
information available online, it is thought that technology overuse actually
contributes to children being unable to focus on a given subject and learn as
they have in the past. The huge amount
of high speed media content bombarding our kids could mean that children can’t
pay attention for any decent length of time thereby compromising their ability
to learn properly.
While I certainly agree with much
of what I have relayed in the above points, I also believe that we should be
teaching our children how to regulate themselves in regards to their time spent
We do not want to be constantly watching and nagging at them – we need
to take the time to teach them the consequences of all of their actions and
their use of digital and mobile media is just one more area we need to educate
As a parent or grandparent, you
should do your homework and find out more about the issues I have raised above.
Discuss these things with your children (and grandchildren) and help them see
the consequences of their actions (or inactions as it were).
Even though I did not have a
mobile phone when I was growing up and was not in constant communication with
my parents and friends, I can see merit in having this technology available
today. I think that if I lead by example in turning my phone off at dinner
time, for example, and engaging in face to face time with my family, I will be
actively teaching them that this kind of interaction is an opportunity not to
If you want to encourage your
kids to get outside and play then why not get outside and play with them?
Again, lead by example. Our children do learn by watching and listening to us
so merely telling them to put down their cool technology and go and climb a
tree won’t work unless you get out there and get involved too (you may not be
up to climbing the tree but you certainly can cheer them on!)
Conversely, there are often times
where we actively want our kids to be safely occupied while we are doing things
such as making dinner or attending to the needs of others in our family
(especially true of single parent families). I am sure many of you have turned
on the television at such times, or handed over your iPhone, so you could focus
on what you needed to without worrying about whether your now technologically
babysat child was safe. It is important that we do not overuse technology for
reasons like this – there is a time and a place and we, as adults, need to
educate and set this example for our charges.
Another thing I would suggest is
to take the time to sit with your child or grandchild and allow them to show
you the sites they visit on the internet or the games they like to play on
their handheld devices. This way you are taking an active interest in them and are
able to see firsthand their daily activities which are helping to mold them
(whether you like it or not). Showing real interest is always a positive interaction
with anyone in your life – we all enjoy the full attention of someone we love
and care about.
Why not teach your grandkids about the things you like? Why not do some hands on stuff like cooking some healthy food with them? They can do the online research and find a recipe that uses the ingredients you already have in your cupboard - this allows them to show off their technological knowhow on the net (did you know there are apps and websites that allow you to put in the ingredients you have on hand and, as if by magic, ideas and recipes needing those ingredients appear?! Pretty cool I think) You can then use your hands-on knowledge to create a masterpiece that you all can enjoy . . .
Our kids are growing up with a
huge range of technology and, no doubt, the use of some of it will have
consequences we have not even thought of. Let’s use our age and life experience
to help find ways to have this technology enhance our lives together.