Negative Influences of Technology

It’s 6:00am and the morning cell phone alarm goes off, that familiar melody provided by your cell phone notifying you that it’s time to roll out of bed. Suddenly, your child barges into your room stating their science project is due this Friday. You proceed to tell them to get their tablet and login to their google classroom to check the due date. Thank goodness! It isn’t due until the following Friday. While everyone settles in to enjoying a gourmet cereal breakfast, your neighbor then sends a text on the latest Facebook post about a child in your sons class who has spread lice to a handful of other children. So, as a precaution, you decide to keep the kids home from school today. The children get settled in watching a TV show while you sit down at the computer to begin your online work for the day.

It seems the very essence of our being must rely on our cellphones, tablets and computers to function throughout the day whether we are at home, school or the workplace. What on earth would we do without all of this modern day technology? Yet, do you ever wonder, what are the effects that come from this long-term exposure to these devices? Better yet, who is it affecting more, the adult or the child? And what are those effects?

Around 2 decades ago, childhood consisted of playing outside all day, riding bikes, participation in sports, building forts and pretending the bunkbed was a rocket ship heading into a volcano! During that time, kids moved a lot and the sensory world was nature based and very simple. In families, the dining room table was actually used for the whole family to sit together and eat a homecooked meal. Now, the home cooked meal is replaced by take-out and the friendly family conversation is substituted with the “Big Screen”.

While technology is ever changing, whether we like it or not, we change and adapt with it. As a worldwide evolution, technology has improved our businesses, education, communication, travel and many other aspects of life. On the flip side, undesirable effects such as depression, stress, laziness and other health problems are coupled with the misuse of too much technology. Self control is a skill that must be mastered to prevent us and our children from falling into some of the negative side effects this new technology brings.

In regards to technology, who would have thought that good could be bad. Recent studies have been made with 3 to 24month old babies and educational videos such as Baby Einstein. Now, I’m not saying I didn’t use these videos with my kids but it’s like they say, “everything in moderation”. Also, the main purpose of these videos is to watch and interact with your child while they engage in the activities presented. The blame goes to the parents using them as a distraction to could get the laundry done. These are the participants who found negative results in language development as their child watched these so called “educational videos”. What turned out to be more effective was the parent reading and interacting with the child. At this young age, the brain stimulation is heightened by sensory functions, so human interaction and real-life experiences are necessary for learning and growth. Again, some common sense is all that is needed in this situation.

Proper child development is so critical at a young age. It’s dependent on many factors including physical health, motor skills, social and emotional skills, thinking abilities, language and communication. When a parent exhibits no control of a child’s tablet and allows them to “play” on it for hours on end, the necessary development skills needed for a healthy life are actually being overrun by overstimulation in visual and auditory sensory systems which causes a rewiring of the brain. The upcoming generation is already showing signs of this in studies being made by some of the top colleges around the nation. One research group found that it’s test subjects brain patterns were changing, causing a sensory imbalance which, “creates huge problems in overall neurological development, as the brain’s anatomy, chemistry and pathways become permanently altered and impaired” –NCBI.

So, if a child’s development is so critical and we want the best for our children in this fast-paced world, why not explore more side effects of the improper use of technology. Depression, stress and obesity have climbed in our nation over the past 15 years. The “real” world is being masked by the surreal, “my life is perfect” world through social media. People are looking for more acceptance in others superficial lives on these social media platforms.

Here is something that hits the nail right on the head. There are restrictions on gambling, drugs and alcohol which are addictive substances right? What makes them addictive? Well, when taking them, our brain releases a chemical called dopamine which is the “feel good” chemical. One is then drawn back over and over again for more. Guess what, when you get a text or a ‘like’ on facebook, your brain releases that same chemical. That’s why when we are feeling down, we text our friends or throw a post on facebook in hopes of the quick text back or “like” to our recent post. But do we have restrictions on social media and cell phones, no we do not. It’s like opening the liquor cabinet at the end of the day and saying to our kid, “did you have a bad day son, well here ya go, drink up!”.

When children with no boundaries on cell/tablet devices are faced with problems in life, they do not reach out for help from others around them. They, just as the addict, turn to their phones or other devices instead of real people. They are not learning to develop deep and meaningful relationships with their peers. They hide away in an imaginary world and learn not to deal with problems but mask them. This results in depression, unreliance, selfishness and being a lazy human being. So, would a little self control and limitation be necessary for the adult and child’s devices? Absolutely!

The necessary things to have are some common sense, self control and moderation. As said before, technology is changing the world for good and bad depending on how it is used. So many positive things have come from having access to computers, cell phones and tablets. Aid is brought faster to those in third world countries and our own nation, friendships around the world are formed, communication has improved nationwide, education and learning is more accessible, we can transfer/pay for things like we never could have in the past and so much more. Technology is a train that will steadily move forward while changing on its expedition. As we enjoy the ride, we must keep ourselves and our children safe along the voyage.



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