The issue of the widespread use of technologies among children has never been as relevant as it is today. An overarching majority of rising generations is not learning how they can expand their minds without the use of technologies and later in life, social media. Thus, what used to be crowded community parks with children running around and playing now transformed into deserted playgrounds with a few occasional visitors. It can be hypothesized that children are not social because of technologies, gain excess weight due to spending too much time in sedentary positions, while parents do not have enough time to tend to their kids, thus resorting to gadgets. There is a range of both physical and psychological issues that arise from the excessive use of technologies, which is why exploring the problem is essential. From a personal standpoint, the problem is close to my experiences interacting with parents and their children who have exhibited an unhealthy addiction to technologies.
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The development of social skills is among the most important when it comes to the healthy functioning of children within social environments. As actual conversations are becoming obsolete with technologies, kids that use gadgets from a very early age fail to have positive experiences of communication. While it is important to understand that technologies offer vast opportunities for learning and entertainment, their excessive use challenges the social accommodation of kids. When using smartphones and other devices for communication with peers, kids can get away being mean to each other without having to face the direct consequences that could have occurred during live interactions. One of my friends that has a six-year-old once mentioned that her daughter called another girl fat online.
Several kids created a group chat in which they can communicate, which enabled them to spend more time texting and less time interacting in real life. My friend also said that the children would sit at their homes and watch movies online while texting their impressions about the film instead of watching it together and communicate in real life. In that group chat, two girls started arguing, which led to one of them being called fat. This later caused some confrontation between the parents because the girl’s feelings were deeply hurt, and my friend had to explain to her daughter that insulting others does not end well. In person, a child could have seen how insults can hurt feelings and think about whether to do it or not. Nevertheless, via text messages, the in-person exchange is lost, which allows children to develop a certain sense of callousness that is associated with the lack of face-to-face communication.
The problem of excessive technology use has also been found to increase the occurrence of overweight and obesity among children. Rosen et al. (2014) who “examined the impact of technology on four areas of children’s well-being, including psychological issues, behavior problems,” attention complications, and physical health (p. 364). For children and pre-teens, excessive media consumption was associated with ill-being and poor health. For instance, the absence of physical activity and inadequate diet choices have been linked to the addiction of kids to using gadgets, playing video games, and communicating on social media. Sedentary behaviors represent the main contributors to increasing weight of children who spend too much time with technologies and less time burning off calories by playing outside or being active in general. Over time, combined with an increase with snacking junk food, the likelihood of kids gaining extra weight increases. If to mention an example from real life, my friend with a six-year-old girl has said that she often had to take away snacks from her daughter because she would eat them all the time when watching TV but then would refuse to eat healthy foods during dinner.
It cannot be doubted that children often adhere to unhealthy food and lifestyle choices as well as use technologies in excess because they lack parental supervision. Parents have multiple responsibilities apart from tending to children, which is why they often get new gadgets for their kids to keep them occupied. My friend bought some devices for her daughter for the same reason – offering the child an entertainment option that does not require the constant attention of parents. This situation is relevant for many parents who do not have enough time to ensure that their children eat well throughout the entire and spend enough time in the movement.
To conclude the current discussion on children and technologies, it is essential to mention that the use of gadgets is inevitable. Nevertheless, they increase the chances of kids getting overweight and not developing their social skills to function in society well. The issue is getting more severe among families in which parents who lack time and energy to entertain their children continuously. Because of this, they buy new toys and gadget for kids, thus unwillingly perpetuating the rising addition of children to technologies. Policymakers in the sphere of healthcare should pay special attention to the problem and help parents make their kids more active through engaging and educational programs.
Rosen, L. D., Lim, A. F., Felt, J., Carrier, L. M., Cheever, N. A., Lara-Ruiz, J. M., … Rokkum, J. (2014). Media and technology use predict ill-being among children, preteens and teenagers independent of the negative health impacts of exercise and eating habits. Computers in Human Behavior, 35, 364-375.
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