Technology For Children: A Boon Or Hindrance?
- Technology is very important and useful for toddlers and their parents.
- For educational purposes, fun activities, and information gathering technology must be needed.
- Technology can harm toddlers in many ways it can develop eyestrain, poor posture, sleep disorder, low creativity, and obesity.
- The right way and right time for using digital media are very important and parents should keep a check on their toddlers.
- There are some actions to be avoided for a good technological impact on the babies.
Let's assume you are working from home and your toddler is crying for your attention. What should you do? You hand a tablet over to him and play some cartoons on YouTube, or you simply switch on the TV to keep your child engaged for the moment.
Now, the question is: is this a good thing or a bad thing to do? In this article, we will go through the boons and banes of technology for children, and the internet, and the effect technology has on toddlers.
Technology advantages and benefits
Technology boon or bane? Well, I believe that we can all agree that technology has tremendous benefits. This applies to raising a toddler too. Here’s how.
Helping new parents to keep child health in check with health care applications
Thanks to a plethora of apps online, technology can be used to track the health of your child. These apps do everything, from booking appointments to saving test results in a single place. Parents can schedule doctor visits and blood tests on such applications.
Connectivity, and communication with their long-distance relatives
Digital media and networking sites have enhanced communication tremendously. Your child can now listen to his grandmother’s stories from thousands of miles away, all with a simple video chat or a video call.
Multiple applications that host video chats allow families to connect and build relationships with distant families, extended relatives, physically absent parents, and grandparents. Video chatting helps toddlers to build social and emotional skills. With the help of technology, you can also see and talk to your toddler when you are stuck in long office meetings.
Parents can get information about toddler health care
The Internet is an ocean of information. Anything under the sun has been written, spoken, or documented in some form by the internet.
Many healthcare organizations now have websites where they host valuable information. By using this reliable and resourceful information, parents can stay updated on their child's well-being, hygiene, and parenting skills.
Knowledge and entertainment with remote devices
This is no surprise that toddlers are always brimming with energy. It is nearly impossible to keep them entertained all day. This is where you can make use of technology to keep them entertained.
Several television shows, channels, and podcasts have a ton of information on how to make toddlers utilize technology and time effectively. They can learn DIY crafts, the alphabet, the capital of states, and other productive activities on the internet.
However, one must ensure that the content is appropriate for their age.
Toddlers can build social skills
Earlier, when we were kids, most of us were afraid of being in front of a crowd or would shy away from a camera. However, with early exposure to technology, most children are camera-friendly starting young.
They show off their performing skills in videos shot by their proud mamas and build on their social skills to become confident in the future.
A toddler can access pre-school education material
Infants and toddlers do learn from television and tablets. Children as young as 6 months old can imitate simple actions they see on TV up to 24 hours later and by 18 months, toddlers can remember brief sequences that they saw on TV for 2 weeks.
Video chats and interactive learning can be extremely useful in helping your toddlers enhance their knowledge.
Addiction to technology
Children from the age of zero to three years are very prone to using technology and media. About 75-96% of toddlers use the internet for more than 1 hour a day, which in turn is affecting their health.
A study shows parents use technology as a distraction or as a calming mechanism for toddlers when they experience difficult emotions. Doing this once in a while is okay. However, this strategy is not good for the child in the long run.
Toddlerhood is a crucial time to experience basic emotion regulation. This helps them to develop an emotional reflex to the situation. Infant and toddlers are gradually becoming dependent on technology which is a risk of developing technology addiction.
The use and overuse of technology need to be supervised and monitored. Using technology for escaping strong emotions is increasing the risk of developing technology addiction or technology disorder in further life.
If social media can boost the confidence of toddlers, it is worthwhile to note that it can also make them anxious at the same time. Exposing children too often to social media may affect child phycology. By the time they grow up, some children become validation seekers. These social media posts make them depend on other views. This is a very early stage of anxiety, isolation, and psychic diseases.
There are so much problematic media that interfere with a baby's functioning. Problematic media can cause dysfunction in social, behavioral, and academic activities. Loss of interest in other activities, withdrawal from others, and over-occupied with media. This may cause media emotion regulation and this is likely to get at an early age.
Toddlers with difficult temperaments are more prone to be affected by mobile, tablet, computer, and digital timing. But in reality, they need the attention and support of their parents and family.
So, put your phone away and give time to your toddler. Play, cook, make a craft, and give time and positive attention to them.
At this age, toddlers are getting to learn languages. They first started learning with words and then sentences. One study shows that up until the age of 2 years, toddlers benefit little to none from watching media. TV, social media, internet put so many negative language impressions on toddlers' minds and learning systems. They catch up with bad words very easily.
Early exposure to the TV, and media show a bad effect on cognitive development. In one study, early exposure to media and electronics at school age showed not much benefit either. Each hour of average TV viewing time before age of 3 years only show deleterious effects on a toddler. Technology may affect the attention, and focus of the toddler. If they are watching something on a tablet they didn't give any attention to other activities surrounding them. This may affect them in the long term when they grow up.
A full day in front of a TV or digital screen may affect the eyes as well and it can cause myopia or early blindness, and memory power of the toddler. Watching television for long hours may interrupt their sleep cycle too.
Internet addiction disorder is a condition that affects toddlers' brain function. This disorder is associated with functional impairment like depression, anxiety, and some psychopathological symptoms. The Internet is dangerous for babies. It may put negative thoughts during growing age.
Internet cause laziness and it does not make toddlers smart. Toddlers are becoming more dependent on digital media. Sometimes, children don’t eat until they get to see their favorite cartoon or TV show. Such behaviors can severely harm their appetite.
Physical and psychological issues developed by excess use of technology in toddlers
- Physical health issues
Long-term use of mobile, tablets and television may lead to eyestrain in toddlers. They may have blurred vision, dry eyes, and head, shoulder, and neck pain. Screen time, brightness, viewing from too close to the screen, screen glare, and no mobility in shoulder activity are some of the factors affecting eyestrain.
Toddlers taking regular breaks may be able to cope with eyestrain.
1. Poor posture
The way toddlers use mobile or any other device may also cause poor posture and musculoskeletal problems.
How does your toddler sit to use the tablet? Straining their necks to look down at the phone or tablet. If they watch cartoons in a sleeping position or use the tablet in a half-sitting position, there is a major chance of having neck and spinal issues. A study states that more children are having upper back pain, and shoulder pain from a very small age. Make sure your toddler gets a regular break from technology.
2. Sleeping problems
Using electronic devices during bedtime may cause issues in sleep. Toddlers and their parents both should have control of using phones before bedtime. According to a study, toddlers who use technology at bedtime were more likely to be tired in the morning, feel lazy the whole day, and can’t eat their breakfast properly. This may affect their BMI ratio.
3. Psychological health issues like isolation
As technology connects people, it also causes isolation in some scenarios. Toddlers are spending their whole day in a room with their tablets. This could lead to social isolation and social media addiction.
Overuse of technology in toddlers may experience issues such as:
- Less attention in academics
- Low creativity
- An issue in language development
- Physically inactive
- Aggressive behavior
- High BMI
How to use technology responsibly
Parents should look for some options when it comes to their child’s tech use:
- For toddlers under 12 months, do not give them access to use any kind of technological device.
- For toddlers under 18 months, avoid screen time except video chatting.
- For toddlers 18 months to 24 months, parents should choose programs that are helpful for toddlers, and limit screen time to half an hour a day.
- Parents should establish safe technological use for their babies.
- Toddlers learn things from their parents. So it’s up to you to be a good role model. If parents frequently use their phones, Laptops, or other technological devices in front of their children it put a negative impression on toddlers. That's why limit your usage of technology in front of your children.
- Explain to your toddlers that tablets, phones, and other media devices are not toys, and should be handled with care.
- Discuss the benefits and drawbacks of technology with your toddlers. This discussion should become more detailed as toddlers get older.
- Establish rules which do not look like a punishment to toddlers.
- Encourage your child to go out and play with their friends outdoor in the fresh air. Go out with them on a walk. Give them your undivided attention.
- Restrict phone or other devices 1 hour before bed. Using digital devices or playing games at night can affect the sleep quality of your toddler.
- Instead of using the phone before bedtime implement a habit of reading, playing, bathing, stretching, or spending time with family.
- Sometimes some toddlers find it difficult to connect with people in real life that's why they use media and electronic devices for playing games. Help your toddler to build social skills and real-life relationships.
- Be aware of what your toddler is watching online and does that activity help in growth and development.
Fun alternatives to using technology
Today, babies are born and growing up in the technology world.
Here are some things you can do to ensure your child does not fall prey to the vices of technology.
- To avoid the use of technology, spend more time with your toddler. If you are working enroll your toddler in baby care, make an environment where they interact more with the real world, and play games with their siblings, cousins, and friends.
- Go to the park and give them exposure to play with pets, and make new friends. They need free exploration of the surrounding environment.
- Babies of this age are naturally drawn to use media, and switch on or off the lock screen. Every media they are using should be in interactions with parents.
- Avoid passive screen time. Some parents think that babies only get calm through videos. There is a study that suggests that distressed toddlers need comfort and care from parents or adults. They do not need an electronic toy.
- Use technology to engage your toddler with images of families, friends, animals, objects in the environment, and photos of other toddlers.
Technology is widely used in today’s day and age. The right amount and right way of using technology, screen, digital media, and electronic devices have their benefits.
But excess and misuse of technology for children are one of the major risks of digital addiction. It's the parent's responsibility to make sure how much and what kind of technology their toddlers are using.
Toddlers have a direct impact on their parent's actions. If parents reduce the usage of technology it will put a good impact on toddlers. Now, that you have a fair idea of technology’s influence on your toddler and how to use it in the right manner, go ahead and implement it at the earliest.
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- Fuller C, Lehman E, Hicks S, Novick MB. Bedtime use of technology and associated sleep problems in children. Global pediatric health. 2017 Oct 27.
- Moturi S, Avis K. Assessment and treatment of common pediatric sleep disorders. Psychiatry (Edgemont). 2010 Jun 1;7(6):24.
- Playing with the technology available at N HSGGC
- Digital guidelines: promoting healthy technology use for children available at APA