The Effects Of Technology On Children
Technology is in the hands of more kids today than ever before. It is undoubtedly a powerful educational tool, but it can also be used as a weapon, especially against children. Exposure to graphic or mature images and information can forever impact a young mind. We still have yet to understand how mobile devices impact kids, not to mention AR/VR. Our children are now in uncharted territory, and regardless of your views on technology for kids, they will find it and be exposed to it. Teachers and adults now have an obligation and responsibility to kids that is more important than ever before: contextualization.
Children benefit from the educational aspects of technology. There are obvious advantages like access to information. As recently as the 1990s, resources like dictionaries and encyclopedias were cost prohibitive for lower income families. Now, with the ubiquity of internet access and mobile devices, kids from all walks of life have an unprecedented access to information. This open access brings new challenges with it. How do we keep kids from seeing age inappropriate content on already popular sites like Youtube?
There are also counterintuitive advantages to some aspects of technology. Studies have shown that some video games have actually helped kids develop real life skills. Yet, those same games have also been shown to reduce the amount of exercise kids get and can worsen their eating habits. In some cases, video games have been linked to violence and mental issues. Probably the biggest factor is how we look at parenting. If parents are actively involved in monitoring what their kids are consuming and how it affects them, the outcomes are usually favorable. Certain technology for kids actively involves parents and there are brands like 1st Media that create content specifically for millenial parents as the market grows. Buzzfeed and NBCUniversal are handling the challenge by creating a new platform called Playful that starts with educating parents with content like “Little tricks to teach your kids the basics,” “9 kid-friendly science experiments” and “How I make mom friends.”
Many detractors of technology for children argue that technology is making children less socially adept, but many apps like Kid Pass help parents and their kids source new and fun activities. However, like all things this is subject to the context of the technology and how kids are interacting with it. One definite negative trend is the proliferation of anonymous communication apps. It takes no courage or social skills to tear down your peers with no accountability or fear of consequence and the effects can be disastrous. But again, context is key because anonymity can also make it easier to report bullying.
The bottom line is that technology is helping and hurting. That being said, the next Elon Musk or Nikola Tesla is out there right now with an insatiable curiosity. Thanks to widespread internet connectivity and access to information, that child, whomever he or she may be, has the tools available to change the world. The same way that modern medicine has advanced to save more lives, our grasp on technology will only improve with time. We can’t map uncharted waters without first sailing through them. While parents need to closely monitor how technology affects their kids, the situation presents a set of opportunities that no other generation has had access to. It’s our responsibility as adults, creators, influencers, and people who work in technology to be conscious of the fact that kids will consume what we create. We can only try our best to maintain ethics while navigating the ins and outs of new technology. Its implications impact the future of humanity. No big deal.