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Children and Technology – Should you be Concerned

Children and Technology – Should you be Concerned

Media technology is here to stay and has become a permanent part of our lives. But there is great concern about how it may be affecting our children. I believe we can learn to embrace its advantages, reduce its adverse effects and raise children who can still relate heart to heart with people, appreciate and participate in the beauty and wonders of nature and grow up to be well rounded, healthy, caring and compassionate adults. The challenge for parents is to understand the benefits and pitfalls of children’s technology use and to help their children create balance in their lives.

Why should we be concerned?

The amount of time children spend using media technology, including computers, cell phones, video games and MP3 players among others, is setting off alarms. The fear is not only that this technology is replacing physical and imaginative play, but that it also may be diminishing development of social skills, heart connection and empathy for others.child at computer

Children and teens between ages eight and 18 spend an average of seven hours and 38 minutes daily playing video games, going online and watching TV, and most have no household rules governing how much time they’re allowed to spend doing these things, according to the 2010 study, “Generation M2:  Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds,” conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Add to that the time spent eating, sleeping and attending school during the week, and little time is left for anything else such as playing outside or at the playground with other children, participating in athletics, socializing with friends and family or engaging in afterschool and weekend activities.

Studies over the past decade have concluded that a large number of adolescents and teens today are having difficulty identifying emotions in people, thus creating an inability to feel empathy toward others who may be feeling pain, sorrow, anger and other emotions. There is concern that excessive viewing of real or contrived violence online and/or playing video games that are violent or contain other age-inappropriate content could be numbing the sensitivities of young people, immunizing them from experiencing compassion and caring for others.

I strongly encourage parents and adults to closely monitor children’s media technology habits and the time they spend with media, beginning at an early age and continuing through adolescence and the teen years. It’s important to help children to create a balance between their relationship with technology and activities that nurture their social, emotional and physical skills.

Why should we be encouraged?

My philosophy is that technology can also play a role in helping children develop socially and emotionally, when used in balance. Media has helped children care about what is happening on the other side of the world, giving them access to people of different cultures and lifestyles in a click.

father and SonTechnology is creating common platforms of socialization, exchange of information leading to more understanding and connectedness to the greater whole. Online polls allow teens to participate in social issues. Through blogging, many youths feel they have a voice on different social issues, allowing expression of their perspectives and learning about other people’s perspectives as well. Many are getting involved in online social causes and movements happening worldwide, from saving endangered species to raising money for the homeless.

Video games also offer ways for kids to collaborate, take turns and learn basic principles of teamwork and sharing, while increasing logical thinking, grasping the interrelationship of various inputs and developing motor skills and hand-eye coordination due to movements needed to effectively navigate a mouse or play a video game. New software being designed specifically for classrooms promises to be a remarkable tool for developmental learning and creativity.

Text messaging can also be a developmental tool. Researchers from Coventry University studied 88 children aged between 10 and 12 to understand the impact of text messaging on their language skills. They found that the use of “textisms” could be having a positive impact on reading development and a positive effect on the way children interact with language, rather than harming literacy.

There is also media technology available today designed to significantly enhance social and emotional learning, which is critical to the development and future success of children. HeartMath developed a scientifically validated hardware/software system (emWave®) that teaches children emotion-balancing and coherence skills that can improve their academic performance, relationships with family and friends, heart intelligence and empathy, and even their ability to make wiser choices in their lives.

The technology world is a place for parents and grandparents to interact and communicate with children, even though the learning curve can be a challenge for many of us. It’s important to enter into the world where our children are increasingly spending more and more time. By learning to navigate that world with them, we can better guide them on how to manage themselves and their time within it.

As mindfulness trainer Maya Talisman Frost told TechNewsWorld: “The key to managing kids’ technology use is to establish clear ‘tech-free’ zones,” she explained. “This means recognizing times when the present moment is the priority and technology is given a secondary role. Kids need to learn that there are times when paying attention to those around you is of primary importance, no matter what type of urgent phone calls or instant messages might be coming their way.”

How do you feel about children using technology, and do you have any guidelines with how and when your children use technology?

Mother and Child

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Read more: Children, Family, General Health, Health, Home, Life, Mental Wellness, Nourishing the Heart, Spirit, Teens, , , , , , , , , , ,

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Sara, from Institute of HeartMath

Sara Childre is President and CEO of the non-profit Institute of HeartMath. Since 1991, Sara has helped oversee and develop HeartMath trainings, educational products and scientific programs. She was appointed vice president and CFO of the institute in 1992, then president and CEO in 1998.

64 comments

+ add your own
3:13AM PST on Nov 6, 2013

How about doing your job..as a parent instead of waiting for someone else to tell you that you should teach your kids t be responsible!!!!

2:36AM PDT on Oct 12, 2013

"Contrived violence" has been around since cartoons were first shown.

2:02PM PDT on Oct 8, 2013

also pay attention to proper ergonomics to keep them from getting a repetitive motion injury before they are even an adult

10:01AM PDT on Sep 23, 2013

excellent article

7:46AM PDT on Sep 23, 2013

Just like anything else in life, children have to be taught everything in moderation and balance.

10:57AM PDT on Sep 22, 2013

Thanks/

8:17PM PDT on Sep 16, 2013

I know I'm into media too much myself. we're not doing kids and teens any favor. (and I'm not doing myself any favors!) and cyberbullying is a special concern, which too often isn't addressed until severe emotional damage has been done.

10:20PM PDT on Sep 15, 2013

In the future, children will grow up to be fairly socially inept, out of shape with poor distance vision, but they will know how to text all the abbreviations - lol!

3:57AM PDT on Sep 13, 2013

ty

12:26AM PDT on Sep 13, 2013

Thanks for sharing.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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