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3 April 2014

10 Negative Effects of Technology on Children’s Development

According to both the American Academy and Canadian Society of Pediatrics, children who are below the age of 12 should not be accustomed to technology. Infants who are between the ages of 0 and 2 should not be exposed to technology. Those who are between the ages of 3 and 5 should be restricted to an hour a day and those between 6 and 18 years should be restricted to 2 hours a day. Children who use 4 to 5 times above the recommended amount of technology are susceptible to serious or life-threatening consequences. 

Handheld devices such as tablets, cell phones and electronic games have significantly increased the usage and accessibility of technology. This is especially true for children who are below 12 years. Nearly all paediatricians stand in agreement that parents, teachers and the government should try and stop the use of handheld devices for children beneath the age of 12 years. 

The following are some of the reasons why children shouldn't have exposure to technology:

Delayed development
Technology tends to restrict movements and this usually results in delayed child development. Almost one in every three children currently enters school developmentally delayed. This tends to have a negative effect on the children’s literacy and academic achievements. Movements help to advance the learning and attention capabilities of a child. The use of technology by children who are below the age of 12 years can have damaging effects on their child development and learning. 

Rapid brain growth
When infants are between the ages of 0 and 2 their brains triple in size. This developmental stage continues till they are 21 years of age. Environmental stimuli or lack of it can have an effect on early brain development. Ailments such as attention deficit, executive functioning, cognitive delays, increased impulsivity, impaired learning and decreased ability for self-regulation can all be caused by technological exposure to a developing brain. 

High obesity rates
According to various health researchers, TV and video games correlate with high obesity rates. Parents who allow their children to have technological devices in their bedrooms stand a higher chance of experiencing this problem. Children with obesity issues are more likely to develop ailments such as diabetes. In addition, they are at a higher risk of early heart attacks and strokes, which drastically shortens their life expectancy. Due to the current obesity levels, children of the 21st century may be the first generation who will not be able to outlive their parents. This is a very sad but true fact. 

Unprovoked aggression
Today’s media regularly exposes children to high levels of physical and sexual violence. This type of content can cause a child to become highly aggressive. Video games such as Grand Theft Auto V contain explicit sex scenes, rape, murder, mutilation and torture. This is also the same with most movies today. In the United States, media violence has been classified as Public Health risk because of its aggressive impact on children. There have been increased media reports of seclusion rooms and restraints being used on children who showcase uncontrolled aggression. 

Lack of enough sleep
Almost 60% of today’s parents do not supervise their children’s technology use. They allow items such as tablets, cell phones, TV’s and videos games in their children’s bedrooms. As a result, 75% of these children do not get enough sleep. This causes detrimental effects on their grades. 

Mental illness
The over use of technology has been associated with the rising rates of child anxiety, depression, attachment disorder, autism, bipolar, attention deficit, problematic child behaviour and psychosis. One in every six Canadian children has been diagnosed with some form of mental illness. Many of them are currently on a dangerous psychotropic medication. 

Addictive tendencies
Most parents usually put more emphasis on the use of technology than personal interaction. This type of environment causes a detachment effect. Lack of parental attention and supervision causes children to become attached to their devices, which usually leads to an addictive behaviour. One in every eleven children is addicted to some form of technology. 

Digital dementia
In addition to attention deficit, high speed media content has also been attributed with decreased concentration and memory. This is due to brains pruning neuronal tracks that go all the way to the frontal cortex. Children who are unable to play cannot pay attention. 

Chemical effects such as radiation
Back in May 2011, the WHO or World Health Organization branded cell phones and other wireless devices as a category 2B risk, meaning that they are possible carcinogens. This was because of their radiation emissions. Children tend to be more sensitive to a wide range of agents when compared to adults because their brains and immune systems are still in the developmental stages. The risk posed to children by these kinds of technologies is not equal to that of adults. 

They are not sustainable
The manner in which children are being raised and educated using various forms of technology is no longer sustainable. As we all know, children are our future. However, there is no future for children who over use technology. In order to effectively address this issue, parents and teachers need to adopt a team based approach. This is the only way to reduce the over use of technology by children. 
According to current research, technology has been shown to have social, mental and physical effects on children below the age of 12 years. These effects tend to vary from child to child based on various factors. It usually depends on the amount of time they spend using technology, the kinds of activity they engage in and the type of the content or information that is delivered to them. For instance, there is evidence to suggest that video games usually lead to negative effects if their content is of a violent nature.

Also, online game communications can lead to states of depression and loneliness in children. This usually means that future relationships for such children will be stunted. Some of the common forms of online communication include chat rooms and MUDs. In addition, increased access to sexual material through the internet might lead to premature sexual activity. There are still some other social effects which have not yet been explored.