How technology effects children

 Technology is one of the principal driving forces of the future; it is transforming our lives and shaping our future at rates surprising in history, with profound implication which we can’t even begin to see or understand. In today’s world we are plagued with technology. The technology which surrounds almost everyone in the modern society, is changing every day, and will forever be a staple in our lives. Kids in the current generation are enamored with technology. Although perhaps it is not that they adore technology so much but the simple fact they have never lived without. Technology has had a significant effect on children that has brought on some concerns. Our common concern has been that although digital technology has boosted children’s talent for multitasking, their ability to process information deeply may be deteriorating (Carpenter, 2000). There is vast amount of technology in today’s world, but there are three main component of technology that is having the greatest impact on children: video games, television/media, and computers. The modern technologies we have today are tremendously powerful; they attract our genetic biases. The human brain is attracted to visually presented information. Video games, television, movies and computer programs are all very visually oriented and therefore they magnetize and keep the attention of children.

The technology which is just now beginning to be manipulated and harnessed is affecting the minds of small children and adolescents in ways that could be harmful.

By far the largest concern of technology today is video games. There have been so many experiments and studies to try and figure out if video games have a negative or positive effect on our children. A growing body of research is linking violent video game play to aggressive cognitive, attitudes and behaviors (D.A. Gentile, 2004). Video games can obviously be dangerous for our children causing aggression, bad performances in school and obesity. Although we cant blame all of these problems on the use of video games, there have been many studies to prove so. Boys do seem to be more attracted to video games than girls are, Adolescent girls played video games for an average of 5 hours a week whereas boys averaged 13 hours a week (D.A. Gentile, 2004).

The effects of both violent and non-violent video game playing can be determined by the amount of time playing the video game and by the content of the games being played. The content of the games being played could definitely have a factor in how a child performs in school, and how aggressive they are towards peers and teachers. Obviously if a child is playing hours upon hours of violent video games, this can lead to them acting out violence and having no consequences for it. If a child took the time that they played video games a week and used that time to be engaged in reading, homework or even a creative activity we’d have less issues with our children’s school performances. Parents should really be monitoring how long their child is playing video games, but this doesn’t always happen. A child who plays video games for long periods of time could also build up a social wall, become a loner. It is important for children to interact with other children in order to help develop their social skills, which without will make it very difficult to make it in this world. At the age children start playing video games, it is hard for them to distinguish what is reality and what is not. So in some cases the violent acts in video games could make the child believe the world is a scary place.
More than a thousand scientific studies and reviews conclude that significant exposure to media, and video games of violence increases the risk of aggressive behavior in certain children, desensitizes them to violence and makes them believe the world is a ‘meaner and scarier’ place than it is (Tompkins, 2003). Children who are playing endless hours of video games are also said to have less hobbies and activities, which may lead to obesity. Obesity in young children has become an overwhelming problem these days. They are now making “fit” video games such a Wii Fit, which involves actual movement and exercise. Video games like these are excellent especially if your child just needs to play a video game. There are educational video games out now, more and more are surfacing. The amount of time children play these is completely different than the amount of time children are playing violent video games. Educational video games obviously can do a lot for your child, they can improve vocabulary, mathematics, and some fitness. So increasing the time they are interacting with educational video games is said to have a very positive effect on them.

Even though they make video games with the intent to be entertaining, challenging and sometimes educational, most of them do include some form of violence. Recent content analysis of video games show that as many as 89% of games contain some violent content and that about half of the games include serious violent content towards other game characters (D.A. Gentile, 2004). It is now a known fact that playing violent video games increases aggressive behaviors, increases aggressive cognitive, increases aggressive emotions, decreases pro social behaviors and increases physiological arousal. So people do say that children who already have aggressive tendencies get therapy from playing violent video games. By releasing their aggression on playing a video game, they are less likely to be aggressive towards others. Then others believe that violent video games maybe even more harmful to the children who were characteristically aggressive already. Because violence is such an attractive part to a video game, companies will continue to keep selling violent video games, to make more money. Although now they do usually list the rating on the game, but who’s to say that parents will take any interest in the rating. Most parents are to blame for their children playing violent video games, how else would they get the game? Parents need to be held responsible for the effects that violent video games have on our children, they need to be monitoring them more closely.

Recent research has shown that connections between children playing violent video games can cause later aggressive behavioral problems. In retrospect studies have also shown a twelve percent increase in aggressive behavior after watching violent television as well (Tompkins, 2003). For many years it has been apart of the repercussions that television has on children. Now we have those special chips called V-chips to put in the TVs to block certain programs or channels. But who knows what your children are watching when they go to a friends house, or even at school. Exposing your children to some violence almost seems inevitable, everywhere we turn there is some kind of violence on some kind of new piece of technology. Endless hours of watching television may be thought of as somewhat entertaining to a child, but it has such negative effects on them. TV is consistently reinforcing gender-roles and stereotypes which isn’t always a good thing to show our children. A child should be out running around, exploring their environment, participating in activities and sports. Children who view media violence are more likely to have increased feelings of hostility, decreased emotional response to the portrayal of violence and injury that lead to violent behavior through imitation (Tompkins, 2003).

During the first 2 years of a child’s life, the brain is at a critical developing period. Television can get in the way of a child exploring, learning and spending time interacting with their parents and other children. Having time to play with others helps kids develop the skills they need to grow cognitively, physically, socially and emotionally. If parents limit the television that their pre-school age child is watching it can be a good thing as long as what they are watching is educational or age appropriate. If you allow your children particularly ages 2-7 to watch shows or movies with scary monsters, they will remember those scary faces. Children this age have a hard time distinguishing between real and fantasy, so to tell them that monsters don’t exist, wouldn’t really console them. While kids 8-12 are usually scared by natural disasters, the threat of violence and victimization of kids. Many shows or movies now a days depict risky behaviors, such as sex and substance abuse. They portray these things as cool, fun and exciting, and there is often no discussion about the consequences of these actions. More and more now we are seeing alcohol ads on television, and more underage children are being exposed to them. Over sixty percent of television shows being shown in prime time contain some form of violence (Tompkins, 2003). They are now linking child obesity to over watching of television which includes four or more hours a day. While watching television kids are usually inactive and usually snacking. Kids are getting overwhelmed with the many ads on television encouraging them to eat unhealthy foods. The ads are meant to target children, by showing sugary cereal, or sugar filled soft drinks. Children are being manipulated by advertising companies, so then they beg and plead with their parents to buy them exactly what they have seen on television. In another study of preschoolers (ages 1-4), a child’s risk of being overweight increased by 6% for every hour of television watched per day. If that child had a TV in his or her bedroom, the odds of being overweight jumped an additional 31% for every hour watched. Preschool children with TVs in their bedroom watched an additional 4.8 hours of TV or videos every week(Dennison, 2002). Parents should treat watching television as a privilege, maybe not allowing television in their child’s room will help reduce the percentage of overweight children. Its simple, reduce the amount of time your children are doing nothing with their minds or body, and increase the amount of time they are exploring things and participating in physical activities. So over all its apparent that watching too much television isn’t healthy for any child of any age, or even any adult.
While boys tend to be more attracted to violence on television, girls tend to be more attracted to the teeny bopper shows. Some of these shows include situations that are not likely to ever happen, or that are too mature for the child whose watching them. The image that most female television/movie stars, and models are giving to young girls is that the skinner you are the better. We are in a vein world, where somehow everyone got the impression that its not alright to look healthy, better to be overly skinny. Eating disorder experts say prepubescent girls are developing eating disorders as young as 5 and 6 years old. They may be getting their obsession from parents who are preoccupied with their own body images, and media images of skinny stars like the Olsen twins, or even Kiera Knightly, whom stars in a very popular movie series Pirates of the Caribbean. Which is a movie directed towards the younger crowd, considering it is a Disney movie. If we take a look at the figure of Barbie, who’s body is considered to be perfect, yet no girl or woman could achieve a body like this, this figure is a definition of beautiful. Unfortunately the only way to help change the outlook of body images is to help our children know its ok to be a different shape than someone else, to teach them its not okay to poke or make fun of children who are bigger sizes. This is not something we need to change just for our children but also for ourselves and our world.

Some programs that may seem age appropriate for our children, are still showing some sort of sexual activity. Young girls are getting the image that it is okay to engage in some sort of sexual activity, even if that is just kissing. Some of these shows are saying that having a relationship at a young age is okay, kids need to be kids and not worry about relationships until they have at least approached puberty. Blaming only television and technology for these acts is unfair, because parents have a lot of effect on their children as well. Children are just getting the wrong message from a lot of these shows, that premarital sex is the thing to do, that even something as simple as kissing is okay. This all depends on the age of the child, some parents need to make sure that the shows their child is watching is age appropriate. Maybe some parents need to watch a couple of minutes of the show their child wants to watch and get the feeling, and voice of the show to determine whether its appropriate for their child.

Children are natural ‘manipulators’ of the world-they learn through controlling the movement of and interaction between objects in their world: dolls, blocks, toy cars, and their own bodies. With television, they watch and do not control anything, computers allow interaction. Children can control the pace and activity and make things happen on computers (Perry, 1999). Computers are becoming apart of everyone’s daily lives. We have them at work, home and even at school in children’s class rooms. Computers like all technology have their pros and cons. Obviously the computer can open up a world of intelligence for children, you can look up and explore anything you want on the internet. Studies indicate that the media can promote pro-social behavior, that some computer games can hone visual intelligence and that classroom use of the internet links children with distant mentors and resources, enriching the way kids learn (Carpenter, 2000). Computers are now being used as a learning tool, we have access to them, we might as well try and use them for good. Technology offers children a sense of empowerment and provides kids with the tools needed to solve problems (Goessl, 2002-2008). Educational websites, and games are at the reach of our children’s hands, not to mention if they want to know everything to know about Alaska, or who holds the record for chewing gum the longest, they can. Computers can have a great influence on developing hand- eye coordination, since it does take this skill to type and use a mouse. But still the time they spend on the computer should be limited, because kids still need social interaction, and physical activity. We must encourage our children to develop the ability to think first and then give them a computer (Fanning, 2007).

Even though we can see many positive outcomes from children using computers, there are also many negative views. Computers are being introduced to children younger and younger these days. Which is making our children lazy, they can now type papers that automatically spell check for them, they don’t even have to go to the library to do a research paper, the computer puts all information at a click of the mouse. While it is a nice way for children to communicate with their friends, whatever happen to hand writing a note. Our kids are talking in chat rooms, to who knows, they could be talking to a sexual predator. We have seen this in many cases, the world is such a crazy place and we have to do the best to protect our children from it. Hours and hours of computer use can also be physically damaging to children causing bad posture, hand problems and can effect their eye sight. A child who is always on the computer can cause a lack of social skills. Children need interactive time with peers and adults to really develop correctly. On the computer our children can come across things that aren’t age appropriate for them such as violence, and sex. All they have to do is type in a word and somehow it can be referenced to sex, and link them to a pornography site.
Computers are now being linked to as a factor to anti-social behaviors, primarily because computers are replacing normal social activities. Anti-social personality disorder is characterized as a gross disparity between behavior and the prevailing social norms. Children who constantly use the internet as a form of socializing can develop social anxiety disorder or a internet addiction. You may think that young children cant have an internet addiction, but today it is becoming more common. Some children would rather rush home and get onto the internet rather than go play outside with friends or do a creative activity with their parents. Children are isolating themselves from the ‘real’ world with the excessive use of computers. They are only knowing the web world.

Some may not realize it but cell phones do have an effect on our children. In fact they say that children under the age of 8 shouldn’t even use one. Cell phones can not only cause brain tumors, but also impaired cognitive functions. Scientist have now discovered that even a two-minute cell phone call can alter the electrical activity of a child’s brain for up to an hour after the phone call. This finding has lead many doctors to believe that the disruption in brain activity can lead to psychiatric and behavior problems and can impair learning ability. The alteration in brain waves can lead to aggressive behaviors, lack of ability to learn and memory loss. A study found that children who used cell phones, and whose mothers used cell phones during pregnancy were 80 percent more likely to have behavioral problems such as emotional symptoms, inattention, hyperactivity and problems with peers compared with children who had no cell phone exposure as fetuses or in early childhood. Children whose mothers used cell phones during pregnancy but who had no other cell phone exposure were 54 percent more likely to have behavioral problems (Roan, 2008). Excessive cell phone usage can also be linked to an earlier onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Many parents have no idea how a cell phone is

impacting your child’s brain. Some scientist have found that cell phone transmissions damage the ability of white blood cells to ward off infectious diseases by disrupting the immune system’s electromagnetic communications. The biophysicist from Lincoln University in Christ Church, New Zealand has also found that cell phones can murderously modify moods. In brains and bodies seriously derailed by tiny imbalances in trace minerals and hormones, depression, suicide, anger, rage and violence can result when calcium and serotonin levels are disrupted by cell phone transmissions (Thomas, 2004). Its amazing that all of this time we have been exposing our children to something that is unrecognizably harmful to them.

As we can all recognize, technology today is vastly growing, and is out of our hands. What we do have control over is how much of that technology we expose our children to. It is inevitably up to the parents to monitor and react to the technology being used by their children. This may not seem very serious to some parents, but more and more we are seeing children, young adults walking into their classrooms and shooting theirs peers and teachers. All because maybe they played one too many violent video games growing up, or have felt like an out-cast due to a social-anxiety disorder which can be caused by dissocializing yourself with video games, computers and even television. Even though not one research conducted could really prove either positive or negative long term outcomes of technology, it is apparent that technology does have a great effect on our children’s lives and developmental behaviors. Technology has many effects on our children today, but how couldn’t it when our society is transforming into a technology world. Children these days will never know what life is like without technology so it is important to make sure we use the technology we have for what its worth. Although there are many negatives to the use of technology, we need to embrace the ever changing world, and just learn as parents to pay attention to what o 

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