2 minute read

Are Children Becoming Over-Dependent on Technology?

- by Carlin Armstead

The concept and practice of using technology has brought about a global revolutionary during the past 30 years. Technology has its advantages and disadvantages. In terms of education, it has enhanced the way students learn by bridging gaps in communication, shortening time and providing resources that are available indefinitely. My experience as an educator and mental health specialist has put me in situations and environments to see how technology affects children.

Technology gives everyone, including children, ways to communicate in a viral way. One tweet, one text, one email can travel around the world in seconds informing millions about something that is going on in our lives and communities. Being in the moment and being in the “know” makes people feel they are a functioning piece of society’s puzzle.

Technology via social media and other methods, has brought the world closer together and peeled back the skin of socialization to reveal a new way of life. Cell phones replaced rotary (dial-up) phones, music streaming eliminated CDs and cassettes, Online applications and DVR have made it where people can watch anything anytime they want.

While technology has its positives, there are challenges that may limit development of social skills in children as they come of age. Technology seems to have shortened attention spans in some children. An example of this is when someone is eating with family and friends, but they are not having full face-toface conversations because they are having texting other people. Some people have chosen to accept it distraction while others feel it’s a sign of disrespect.

Online video games with friends bring late nights and not getting the right amount of rest, especially during the school year. It shows at school with changes in behavior, inattention during classes and lower grades. Teachers teach, but technology sometimes acts as a barrier, a distraction to learning.

So, what can we do to help children refocus on learning and developing appropriate social skills? Exposing children to different experiences like going outside and playing, establishing boundaries like a decent bedtime and monitoring of online access and behavior. It all starts at home with parenting. Showing and not just telling children how to be prepared, productive, positive, and polite will go a long way to balancing technology with proper socialization at home, school and in the community.

Many times, there is a blame game going on when it comes to why some children are regressing academically, socially and emotionally. Teachers blame parents, parents blame teachers, and both blame systems. Everyone needs to come together to work on solutions, find common ground and redeem children from the ills of society. After all, Whitney Houston sings in “The Greatest Love of All:”

“I believe the children are our future Teach them well and let them lead the way, Show them all the beauty they possess inside, Give them a sense of pride to make it easier, Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be.”