It seems like every generation has something that could affect the well-being of children. Back in the 50’s, Elvis was viewed as a horrible influence on the youth, then came the Beatles, short skirts, the Simpsons and so on. Most fads either eventually become an acceptable part of our society or they fade away. But, what about this new technology that is at the fingertips of our youth? Is it something we need to worry about or embrace?
There are many pros and cons of children having cell phones, video games, television, iPods, the internet and so on. After doing some research, I have found many suggestions to modern technology.
Video Games: Video games have been proven to improve hand-eye-coordination. Yet, video games alter kids’ perception of reality. Children live vicariously through video games rather than going out and learning to do what they are playing on their system. Therefore, monitor the playing time and the games they are allowed to play. If they are playing a game (for example) like skateboarding, encourage them to explore the actual sport thereby getting them away from the television while combining the enjoyment they clearly hold for that game.
Television: When watching fast paced television, it decreases the reptilian system (the part of the brain that provides instincts such as fight or flight and basic emotions.) Also, it prevents children from creating their own pictures in their head like they would when reading a book. This decreases their ability to create their own symbiotic thought. To prevent this, ask your child about what they are watching, this forces them to recreate the image in their own head and strengthens their symbiotic thoughts. Monitor the types of shows and the length of time the children are viewing television.
Internet: The internet can be a very scary place. A big hit with kids these days is MySpace, which is a site where anyone can put up their own picture and have their own mini-website to talk with other people on MySpace. It is an excellent way of keeping in touch with friends, but kids need to be careful of sexual predators. In July of 2007, MySpace administrators found and deleted 29,000 accounts on MySpace that belonged to convicted sex offenders. But, being a nineteen year old who has had a MySpace for years, I know that it’s very easy to avoid these people. Talk to your kids and warn them of this. Make sure they only accept friends on there that they knew previously and to never meet someone in person no matter how nice they seem. The internet also decreases social activity, since they are not looking directly at the person they are talking to nor having to actually participate in an on-going conversation. Make sure you limit the time your kids can spend on the computer.
Cell Phones: Cell phones are perfect for emergencies and a great way to stay in contact. There are not too many downfalls to a cell phone except for the obvious of talking while driving. Each parent should decide based upon their personal situation and maturity of their children when a cell phone would be appropriate.
Overall, modern technology certainly makes life easier and provides readily available entertainment. However, at all times, it should be monitored and at no time be allowed to consume the entire free time of children. Children still need to socialize face-to-face without the use of an electronic device.