Kids and Technology- Being Respectful and Responsible
If you go out often, whether it be for dinner, or the grocery, or even the library, the chances of you seeing children using technology is very high.
Kids and technology aren’t a new thing. Kids have been using the same technology adults have, we are just seeing the amount of screen time increase, and the accessibility to kids has become easier and more targeted.
Technology is being used for both entertainment and education now more than ever. What was once only thought to be a tool for learning has become a way for parents to entertain their children with minimal, if any effort. Unfortunately, some parents are teaching their children to use and abuse technology by letting the technology be a babysitter.
So, I’ve done some research that I want to share with you. We are in a technological world, and it isn’t going away any time soon, if ever. A recent article that was published shared that adults spend an average of 9 hours and 22 minutes each day using technology. It has never been more important to teach our children how to be responsible and respectful with technology than it is now.
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Positive and negative effects of technology on children
How does technology affect our brain?
Undoubtedly, technology affects our brains. It has begun to change the way we think, the way we act, heck, it has even affected the way we sleep. Technology has the power to affect the way we remember things, as well as our attention spans. We have trained our brains to expect things to happen immediately, which can really be tough for teachers and parents especially.
I’m going to trail off here for one second because I think this is important to note. One topic that comes up often about technology is whether or not it has helped us to be better at multi-tasking. Some people claim that it has strengthened our ability to do more things at one time.
But, I read something recently that talked about how on a computer, for instance, we waste an immense amount of time bouncing back and forth between tasks. One minute we are checking email, and then all of a sudden we are shopping for a new pair of shoes.
It’s because of things like that, that many claims we as employees are wasting our employers time and money. So, I’ll leave the verdict out on this one, but it certainly makes you think.
Positive effects of technology on children
Children who are exposed to technology have improved visual-spatial capabilities. When things are abstract for students, using technology is a great way for students to comprehend new knowledge.
A person’s visual-spatial ability is their ability to mentally manipulate objects that are 2-D and 3-D. So, when students are using a mouse to manipulate things on a screen, they are strengthening their visual-spatial function.
Another positive benefit of technology is that kids have a better understanding of where to find things. Instead of memorizing things, kids are able to LEARN HOW to find the things they need to know. We have, in turn, changed the way kids are trained to think.
When I was growing up, we did a lot of memorization. This is still happening in schools, certainly, but, we are in a technological day and age when times are changing, and the emphasis put on memorization isn’t quite what it was.
Negative effects of technology on children
Technology vs Printed Text
Towards the end of my time teaching, before stay8ing home with my kids, we had just done away with textbooks completely for math. Think about that. Teaching math without a textbook in front of students.
It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around that because I am a very visual learner. The change that also came with this dismissal of textbooks was the amount of readily available technology. Students are spending a lot more time online and using programs that are designed especially for student learning. It is a sign of the times for sure.
So, where does the negative part fall into this? With technology, kids are just beginning to scratch the surface of a topic, whereas if a student is reading a book about a topic they get a more in-depth understanding of the content.
Sure, if a student chooses to look further into something, they’re likely going to find more, but we are in a fast-paced society who likes to find what we need a move on. They are losing the ability to really dive into something at a deeper level.
Kids are obsessed with technology. The reality- as parents, many of us are too. It is virtually impossible to set expectations for your children with the expectation of them meeting those expectations if you aren’t willing to hold yourself accountable as well. And, as a parent, that can be hard.
The reality is that kids need guidance and instruction on how to use technology appropriately. We need to model to our kids that there are other things to do instead of sitting in front of the television, a video game, or a cell phone. There is so much more to life.
Issues with Sleeping
When you are constantly using technology, your brain is constantly digesting information. There are sights, and sounds, and information streaming into your brain and it takes energy to process those things. If you are not giving your brain enough time to shut down before lights out, the chances of you getting a good night’s sleep are slim.
Not to mention that we have become so attached to the devices that we have trouble sleeping sometimes because we wonder if someone is going to text us, call us, email us, or comment on our latest status or picture. The anxiety that builds with that is unhealthy and it’s having a negative effect on our sleep patterns.
If you have looked at any social media platform recently, then you know that people are always posting pictures of themselves. It can be super easy to compare yourself to others. Unfortunately, this can be really hard for teens and kids.
Young females especially are at risk when it comes to self-confidence because there is always someone who is prettier, smarter, has better hair, etc. We need to make sure that our teens and children are being built into at home so that they can have a healthy level of confidence and understand that Photoshop is a real thing.
A Decline in Physical Activity
I 100% agree that we have become a lazy generation who in many ways do not to the amount of physical labor of those who have come before us. Notice, I didn’t say that we don’t work as hard.
I think it takes a lot of mental energy for things like digital programming and engineering, just like farming and building take a lot of physical energy. You can’t really compare the two.
I think that a large part of the decline in physical activity is because of the readily available technology. We are not up and moving near the amount we used to. Even something as small as having a TV remote, where it used to be that you had to get up to change the channel on the television.
The more your kids are on technology the less active they are likely to be.
Trusting Everything on the Internet
This is a BIG one. It is imperative that you teach your children that not everything or everyone they meet and see on the internet is real. There are so many horrible cases of your children trusting people they “meet” online.
It’s awful and avoidable.
Even the best parents think they have their children safeguarded. All of this begins with laying a firm foundation of your kids understanding that they can’t trust everything on the internet.
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How has technology changed childhood?
Toddlers and technology
Tablets and iPads– If there is technology in your house, such as a tablet or an iPad, chances are, your toddler will get their hands on it. There are buttons to push, screens to move, and sounds to be made. And, it’s AMAZING how quickly kids can learn how to use them. Our toddler can often manipulate the iPad better than we can. As with anything, I think technology must be used in moderation and with heavy parental guidance.
Toys– If you haven’t walked down a baby aisle recently, you should. There are so many toys that have technology built into them, that it’s actually hard to avoid technology anymore. The toys talk, light up, and sing songs. They will even begin to teach your kids things with the introduction of products from companies like LeapFrog.
Educational Benefits for Toddlers– I wholeheartedly believe that there are educational benefits of toddlers and technology. One of our kids just randomly started identifying the letters of the alphabet. No one had ever sat down and worked on this skill, however, watching Super Why had taught our kiddo their letters.
I do think there needs to be a very rigid limit of screen time set for little ones. I don’t think it’s healthy for their brains or eyes to be glued to a screen all the time. But, I do think there are benefits related to hand-eye coordination, as well as things like identification and recall.
Monitoring toddlers and technology
Length of Time– For us, we only let our kids on technology twice a day (at most!) for 15 minutes each time. We have shelves of books and toys that need to be played with. When kids are this little, their little minds need to be left idle. They need to learn how to play, and their ability to be creative needs to be nurtured. I don’t think any child should have a screen put in front of them as a babysitter, or for any extended period of time. That just doesn’t seem healthy to me.
Managing Content– The awesome part about (most) technology available now is that you can use programs to help monitor what your kids are doing online. You can also set up personal profiles for your kids that are password protected so that they are only on the apps and programs that you have approved. I like to sit with our kids when they are on the technology because I want to make sure that they are using it for the intended purpose which is learning.
Reasons why technology is good for students
One reason I enjoyed using technology as a teacher was that there were FREE programs online that my students could practice their skills and be given immediate feedback.
I loved letting kids work on the skills they needed help with and then the program would give them immediate, step-by-step feedback that would help them understand what they did wrong. I wish I were able to do this for 20+ kids at one time, but I couldn’t. Computer programs, on the other hand, can do that.
Something that is really gaining popularity right now is online school. Kids can stay at home and do their schoolwork without ever stepping foot in a classroom. I know there are a lot of opinions out there about this.
I believe that when used correctly and given a level of respect necessary for the program to be effective, this can be a great option for kids. For kids who have medical issues or kids who are highly involved in a sport or activity, this is awesome. It’s also really good if parents have jobs that require a lot of travel and the kids can go with them.
Kids and Technology Impact on Learning
Any student in public school is going to be exposed to technology. It is just a way of life. And, even is a child is homeschooled, they will use technology if they choose to go to college. The reality is that technology is not even at the grocery store and library with self-checkout. It’s everywhere.
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Technology tips for parents
Teach Kids to Respect Technology
- When and where are appropriate places to use technology
- Limit kids’ screen time- interfere with sleep, social interaction, encourage a short attention span, deters from school work, less physical activity, exposed to unwanted content
- Cut down on access to technology- no technology after a certain time, no TV in bedrooms, find non-technology things to do
Teach Kids to be Responsible with Technology
One of the greatest things your child needs to understand is that spending time with real people is far more important than who they are connecting with, or what they’re playing on their phones.
If they are with people, those people should have your child’s attention.
They need to understand that a person has more value than the technology they are messing with. It’s important that your child learns how to put the phone or tablet down and leave it there.
If a child is going to be allowed to use technology, they need to have an understanding of time management. You should be teaching them that it’s not ok to sit on their phone or play a video game for more than 30 minutes or so at one time.
And as parents, it’s our job to make sure that we are also following this guidance. We need to abide by the same rules and guidelines we set for our kids. Otherwise, we are hypocrites and a bad example for our kids. If you need to, set timers for your kids.
This way, they know that they’re time is up. Our kids as still pretty young, and they only get to be on technology for 15 minutes at a time.
Forever is Forever
Kids need to be taught that the information they put out on the internet is out there is forever. Even if they think they have deleted something, there is still a trail on the internet.
This is so important, especially as kids start to get a little bit older. Sexting is very real, and tweens and teens have to know that what they send is out there forever. Hitting the delete button isn’t doesn’t really make something “go away”.
Manage Screen Time
The awesome part for parents who struggle to track the time their kids are online is that there are software programs you can install to manage your child’s time online.
Being able to control the amount of time your kiddos are on their technology and online, is one thing. Another is that there are programs that allow you to have control over what and where your kids can go online. You can block your kids from accessing things that you know are harmful to them.
Technology Isn’t All Bad
Technology isn’t a bad thing. There are a lot of really great benefits that come with technology. The biggest issue that I see with technology is that parents aren’t doing the best job at teaching kids to learn how to respect technology, or how to be respectful with technology. Both pieces of that are equally important.
If kids are using technology in school, then it is the responsibility of the school staff to make sure that students are using the technology in a way that is responsible and respectful as well.
Typically, problems that arise with technology are things that could have been avoided if there had been more guidance from adults. At the end of the day, it is our decisions whether or not to let our kids use technology. When we give them the opportunity to use the technology we need to teach them the importance of respecting the technology and being responsible for the ways in which they use it.
That is our jobs as parents.
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