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Negative effects of technology on children

This is the age of technology. The world has changed drastically after the industrial revolution. According to Merriam-Webster technology can be defined as “an application of knowledge to the practical aims of human life or to changing and manipulating the human environment. Technology includes the use of materials, tools, techniques, and sources of power to make life easier or more pleasant and work more productive. Whereas science is concerned with how and why things happen, technology focuses on making things happen”. (Technology, 2014) But the best way to look at technology is by comparison with the past as we continue to strive to create a better world with a superior standard of living. Smallpox was eliminated by a vaccine; the internet helps overcome social, racial and sexual barriers. Computers have revolutionized knowledge and education by making it more accessible to all the people, but can we always regard that more technology is the answer to all the world’s problems? Some may argue otherwise, the atom bomb and the race for nuclear weapons was a result of technology, and ozone depletion is a direct result of the pollution caused by the industries with capabilities of mass production. Many studies have concluded that children’s physical, personal and social development will suffer due to the excessive exposure to technology. (Dorman, 1997; Miller, 1993) Some of the technological gadgets that our children have access to include computers, mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, digital cameras, social media platforms and networks, software applications, the Internet, etc. So today our children are brilliantly using their screen devices while they are unable to ride their bikes or tie their own shoes without relying on help from others. Therefore, parents need to limit the amount of time a child uses his or her screen device and instead encourage activities that enhance the child’s overall physical and mental well-being. Introduction of computers to children at a very young age can have adverse effects in their personal lives, relationships in the family and friends since they will constitute a major part of the children’s lives. (Welch, 1995) In America, about 40% of the children have access to a computer and most parents encourage their kids to use a computer on a frequent basis. (Green, 1996) At the same time, concern should be expressed about the possibility of having isolating effects of computers on children. Such effects of excessive preoccupation with computers leading to social isolation have also been seen in adults hence, it poses a danger to both. (Kupfer, 1995; Stoeltje, 1996) “Technology addiction can lead to social isolation which is characterized by a lack of contact with other people in normal daily living which could in the workplace, with playing video games with their virtual friends online rather than socializing with their real friends and doing something funny outdoors. A study done on a 1000 students in 10 different countries including China, Chile, the U.K and Uganda were unable to voluntarily unplug themselves from using any technological devices for only 24 hours. The study also concluded that students felt frustrated, lonely, anxious and had heart palpitations. (Dakin & Chung, 2011) Many studies have been conducted to create a correlation between time spent by children to their body mass index (BMI). “A statistically significant relationship exists between TV viewing and body fatness among children and youth although it is likely to be too small to be of substantial clinical relevance. The relationship between TV viewing and physical activity is small but negative”. (Marshall, Biddle, Cameron, Gorely & Murdey, 2004) This was supported by another study which studied the associations between physical activity, screen time and weight from 6 to 14 years. Based on the study it can be concluded that most unhealthy characteristics are established in early childhood which means that physical activity, screen time and weight status of a child at age 6 can predict the outcome at 14. The results presented in the study highlighted the importance of intervention as most kids in the present generation are already glued to their screens and overweight. (Hands et al., 2011) There is a tendency for both adults and children to eat more while watching television and all the food advertisements can make it difficult to resist. Another health concern which is on the rise in children due to them being attached to their electronic gadgets and screens is the digital eye strain and computer vision syndrome. This condition is because of the focusing up close which is difficult and tiring to the eyes and causing dryness and headaches and eventually may lead to more nearsightedness. These vision problems can be averted by taking a break every 20 minutes from focusing on the screen and looking at another object at least 6 meters away for about 20 seconds which will relax the eyes from focusing up close, changing the position of the screen from 0 to 15 degree below the eye level, wearing computer glasses or using anti glare screens. (Barthakur, 2013) Apart from children’s physical strains and mental health, there are other concerns and hence a child should never be allowed to spend a lot of time with their computers without adult supervision. One of the big ones is safety, there are a large number of chat rooms where predators could try to lure children and take advantage of them. “Pedophiles are finding new ways and new opportunities to network with each other on how to exploit children” said [a] U.S. Attorney present at a news conference where federal agents who warned that seemingly friendly Web sites like MySpace or Facebook were often used by sexual predators as victim directories. “Young girls who are innocently posting very personal information, or their identities, on these sites are setting themselves up for disaster” [he] said. (Filosa, 2007) Most of the content which is easily accessible by children might not be appropriate for them. Children are also show traits of higher aggression when they are exposed to violence on television or computer. They are misleading to believe that violence towards other kids is normal. Since younger children can be molded easily, they can easily pick up wrong traits from television shows such as stealing, doing drugs, smoking etc. It also instills fear in them as most of the kids would rather send a message on Facebook or text to someone they have differences with rather than sort it out face to face. Finally, if one was to ask a child today to solve a simple math question a majority of them would have to refer to a calculator to answer the question simply because they have always relied on technology. Many kids are also dependent on spell check to correct their mistakes which does not have the same learning effect that getting a dictionary and looking up a word would have on

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