Due and taking it on can be

Due to modern technology,
such as computers, game consoles, tablets and smartphones, today’s
world for children is very different than it was for their parents.
Is this a good thing, or is it bad? While there are good and
legitimate arguments on each side as to whether the use of
technology by children is positive or negative, most should conclude
that when used in moderation and with supervision, technology’s
effect on young children is one we should ultimately be thankful for
because it has opened a new, and maybe even untapped, horizen of
knowledge. By summarizing a few points of the negative impact versus
the the positive impact debate, and an explanation of using
technology in moderation with supervision, most should be able to
come to agreement that the effect is ultimately good.
Parents always
want what is best for their children’s physical, mental, social, and
emotional development, but most struggle with knowing which way to
lean as far as modern day toys and products are concerned. There
have been a lot of studies done by various groups that explore the
pros and cons of children using technology at very young ages, but
since the topic’s history is only one generation, there is simply
not enough evidence to make any concrete determinations (Plowman and
McPake, 2013). No one truly knows whether technology is more of a
help or mostly a hindrance to the development and well being of
children. There can only speculation at this time.
It would be
easy to believe that today’s children are inherently born with a
technology gene. According to a survey done on parents of young
children by ASHA (American
Speech-Language-Hearing Association,) 68% of 2-year-olds
use tablets, 59% use smartphones, and 44% use video game consoles
(New ASHA Survey, 2015). It seems to come naturally to them.

Marc
Prensky, an internationally known speaker on education, came up with
the term “digital natives,” which reflects the belief in
the young children/technology bond. Children who have been around
technology ever since they arrived in the world and aren’t
intimidated by using it are the digital natives. Anyone who does
not fit that description are “digital immigrants.” This
group had to learn to use and adapt to technology later in life.
It doesn’t come naturally to them and taking it on can be quite
intimidating at first. (as cited in Plowman and McPake, 2013)
It
is common to hear parents, somewhat jokingly, say their toddlers
know more about navigating their smartphones than they do
themselves. They are proud that their babies are tech savvy, as they
should be. Many parents believe that since their children will be
using technologies when they start school, they would be behind from
the start if they do not have some technological skills ahead of
time. Some of these parents probably lack confidence in their own
technological abilities and want to make sure that their children
are better prepared. Even low-income parents want to be sure that
their children have opportunities to learn, so they let them spend a
lot of time at public libraries or with friends or relatives who
have computers at home (Plowman and McPake, 2013).

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On
the flip side, some parents feel that it is unnecessary for their
young children to have early knowledge of using electronics. They
argue that there is no benefit in an early start because
technologies change quickly or become obsolete. Anything learned
when they are 4 will be out of date within a few short years
(Plowman and McPake, 2013). Also, they feel that if they encourage
their child to be familiar with technology, the child might become
too absorbed in it and neglect other learning opportunities.
Technology, it is thought, has particularly adverse effects on
preschoolers because they are still developing cognitively and
socially, leading to advice that young children should not be
exposed to computers or television because this will be detrimental
both at the time and later in life (Plowman and McPake, 2013).
As long as
technology is used appropriately, interactions with technology can
provide excellent learning opportunities. For example, learning how
to maneuver in different types of technologies, getting them to
operate a certain way, and having opportunities for personal input
to get a personalized response, is great in educating children on
operation and control. Also, interacting with technologies can help
children to better comprehend the rest of the world because they
have more ability to see and witness other cultures and lands.
Technology can create an early yearning to learn more and more. This
will help with self-confidence as navigation becomes less
intimidating. With the gain of self-esteem, there will be a wider
range of challenges to tackle as the young child grows into an older
child, and then from a teenager into adulthood.

If misused or
overused, however, there can be several negative effects on a
child’s development and quality of life. Many homes are saturated
with leisure technologies, which can lead to too much television
viewing and hours upon hours of playing console games.

24%
of 2-year olds use technology at the dinner table. By age 8, that
percentage nearly doubles at 45%. Also,
by age 6, 44% of kids would rather play a game on a technology
device than read a book or be read to. By age 8, most children
prefer that technology is present when spending time with a family
member or friend. (New
ASHA Survey of U.S. Parents)
Judith
L. Page, PhD, 2015 ASHA president, says, “The most rapid period
of brain development takes place before age 3. The primary way young
children learn is through verbal communication that technology
simply cannot duplicate.” She goes on to explain how critical it
is that children have sufficient opportunities to develop their
vocabulary and communication skills by listening, talking, reading,
and interacting with their parents and others (New ASHA Survey).

Many
parents are exhausted after working all day. It can be tempting to
use electronics as a “babysitter,” even when it is against
parents’ better judgment. Technology over-usage can cause children
to be more sedentary. Instead of being active with physical play, a
child might sit for long periods of time using a tablet, a smart
phone, a computer, or watching television. This can set the child up
for a long lasting struggle with his weight as a result of too
little exercise. Another issue is Vitamin D. This vitamin comes from
sunshine and is important to our immune system. Since the sun
shining on the screens of devices makes one unable to see the screen
well, it is easy to conclude that the indoors option will usually
win. Thus, too much use of technology can indirectly cause a
deficiency in vitamin D.

Besides so much
time spent inactively due to electronics, excessive time spent in
solitude might cause a lack in social skills and emotional
development. It can be more difficult to develop friendships, and
there can likely be a lack of engagement with the family. Developing
communication skills is critical in order to do well in school and in
life in general, so it makes one wonder what will happen to so many
who shut themselves off to necessary socialization. Witnessing a
child staring at a tablet or smartphone for a long length of time
causes concern, making those who see it happening believe the child
might be addicted and lacking in social skills. This leaves them
wondering what it will do to the child’s self-worth?
Many who claim
to be experts on the subject of technology use among young children
have very conflicting messages as time goes by.

For many years,
adults heard warnings issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics of
the dangers of children using media at the expense of social
interaction. In October 2015, however, the same group changed their
views to say that media usage should not be avoided, but used as an
educational tool with guidance and supervision. (Levine and Guernsey,
2015)

After weighing
out the positives and the negatives of the use of electronics by
young children, most would likely conclude that moderation is the
key. Balance the use of technology with traditional activity.
Children’s early experiences with various technologies can complement
their learning, especially when they are supported and monitored by
adults. With parents helping their children when things are
difficult, encouraging and giving praise for achievements and helping
them manage their emotions when they get frustrated, playing and
learning with technology will be no different from the playing and
learning they’re achieving from other kinds of activities.

A few years
ago, a study was conducted on two Philadelphia libraries. One was
located in an affluent community and the other in a low-income area
of the city. For several years, two researchers, along with their
assistants, sat in the two libraries, observing how parents and their
children used the books and computers. Each library had the same
level of offerings, but there was still a big difference between the
two. Just because there were computers available didn’t mean there
was an automatic advantage. In the poor community, adults struggled
to fill out forms or work with computer software. Their children
looked at picture books, but didn’t read much. They got bored with
the books because there weren’t many adults around to guide them
through stories and ask them questions. The kids played computer
games that didn’t have much to do with reading or learning new
skills. Some of the games weren’t designed very well, to help them
learn, so the kids just banged at the keyboards in frustration, and
eventually gave up. At the same time, the children at the other
library usually had an adult by their side while they used the
computers, guiding them to appropriate games and software while
asking them questions about what they were playing with. These
children were interacting with adults, enjoying conversation, being
introduced to new skills, and absorbing information about how
computers work and how to use them to gain knowledge and solve
problems. (Levine and Guernsey)

While there are very good
explanations from those who are advocates of technology usage at an
early age, as well as reasonable arguments against it, now it should
be more evident that when used in moderation, technology’s effect on
young children is significantly more good than bad. Usage with
supervision allows interaction and bonding, gives opportunities for
teachable moments, and enhances knowledge by being much broader in
its capabilities than other forms of learning

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