As the world becomes ever more connected, we as parents have to become ever more cognizant of the role that technology is playing in the lives of our children. Not only do we have to take responsibility for the effect that technology is having on our own lives, but we have to be aware that technology is creeping into the home and the classroom too. And although there are undeniable benefits of having our children exposed to technology, there are also certain risks that should be addressed and questioned before allowing free and unsupervised access to the internet.
How old should kids be before they’re allowed to surf free of parental helicoptering? What are the risks of allowing kids access to tech such as iPads and tablets? How serious is technology addiction and is it affecting our children?
When it comes to children using technology, it’s not all doom and gloom. Technology affords kids a number of different benefits especially in the field of education. It’s a broad field, but there are numerous apps and programs available that can assist your child with learning and memory retention and even make it fun at the same time. This can be great when paired with children who refuse or have trouble studying. It’s not just boring questions and answers either. New advances in artificial intelligence have been integrated with learning software in apps such as Socratic, meaning help and advice can be dished out in a meaningful way rather than relying on parrot-fashion learning. In the case of Socratic, the app scours the web to give multiple explanations for greater understanding and also allows users to input their own questions that they require help with.
While there are benefits to exposing your children to technology and the internet, it’s important to keep in mind that there are disadvantages too. For starters, there is a lot of content on the internet that wouldn’t be suitable for children and which is easily accessible on any device that has Wi-Fi capabilities and no parental controls. On the tamer end of the spectrum, this could mean YouTubers who swear, violent videos on the news, or access to age-restricted films. On the darker side, it could mean exposure to pornography, interactions with cyberbullies, or unwittingly being manipulated by criminals on the internet. There are also psychological concerns. The internet can be inherently addictive, which, if you’ve ever had a child that can’t be pulled away from the TV, you know can be a problem.
Diminished attention spans
There’s also a theory that posits that excessive internet use can have a negative effect on traditional reading. Because of the way in which content is read and digested in an article format – that is, read quickly and skimmed through without lingering critical analysis – there are fears that attention spans and the ability to concentrate are affected negatively, which in turn can have a negative effect on a person’s ability to read a traditional book, or just to concentrate in general.