Technology as we know it has changed drastically over the years. Forget flash drives, floppy disks, and DVDs. Even the iPad is a decade old. These are all things that arguably make our lives better. Constant access to information and a well of data at our fingertips has led to some incredible advances, but could it be hurting your child’s development in the process?
The Physical Impact
Since the 1980s, scientists have been keeping an eye on the relationship between screen time and obesity. Childhood obesity has shown an increase over the last few decades alone. Higher exposure time to screens has been linked to weight gain due to factors such as eating while partaking in screen time, poor diet, and not getting enough sleep. In addition to the more obvious negative physical implications of childhood obesity, a higher body fat percentage, bad eating choices, and sub-par sleep have been shown to inhibit brain function and impact the development of impulse control.
Babies and Tech
There are apps designed to display educational concepts for young children. YouTube is a seemingly endless sea of entertainment. It can be tempting to let the screen do the busy work, but your baby needs a break from the blue light, too. If young children spend too much time looking at screens, it could affect their brain development. Consider guiding them towards toys and activities that will help their motor, cognitive, and social skills in a more applicable real-world setting. Their brains will thank you.
The “Not-So-Social” Social Media
If your child has already been exposed to social media (and let’s face it, they probably have) then chances are, they can’t live without it. And that’s okay. Social media can be a vital networking tool in today’s world and an outlet for creativity. It instills a sense of community and a way to build connections. However, it can also be a breeding ground for unwanted terrors. Exposure to unwanted content such as targeted advertisements, foul language, and potential scams are just a few demons that lurk in the corners of modern apps. In many cases, children and teenagers are able to access adult content with the mere click of a checkbox. As if that’s not scary enough, the Fear-of-Missing-Out aspect of watching our friends have fun without us and trends in cyberbullying can be detrimental to your child’s self-esteem. Even comparing ourselves to others can take its toll. Despite all of this, social media doesn’t have to be evil – but it’s important to keep an eye on what your kids are scrolling through and make sure they know the limits.
Taking the Reins
There are things that you can do as a parent to keep your kids safer. For starters, making sure that they get adequate break time. To avoid digital eye strain, follow the 20/20/20 rule. For every 20 minutes of screen time, look away for 20 seconds at something 20 feet away. It’s also important to establish a trusting relationship between you and your child. You can also consider a tracking app for safety. Transparency is key here. Safety is the goal, not an invasion of privacy, so it’s important that you know your limits, too. You don’t need to read every single text message, but you should still be aware of who your kids are talking to and what sites they visit to ensure that you’re doing everything you can to keep your kids safe.
Change is Constant
“Change is the only constant in life.” This ancient Greek saying has perhaps never rang more true than in today’s technology. The “it” apps are ever-changing, the urge to scroll is strong, and children are more impacted by technology than they have ever been before. There’s a lot that can be learned from the digital world, but don’t let it keep your child’s development at a disadvantage along the way.
Morgen is a writer from the beautiful mountains of Utah. When she’s not writing, she loves exploring the outdoors and traveling around the world. Follow her on Twitter @mo_hendi