Due enough evidence to make any concrete

Due tomodern technology, such as computers, game consoles, tablets andsmartphones, today’s world for children is very different than it wasfor their parents. Is this a good thing, or is it bad? While thereare good and legitimate arguments on each side as to whether the useof technology by children is positive or negative, most shouldconclude that when used in moderation and with supervision,technology’s effect on young children is one we should ultimately bethankful for because it has opened a new, and maybe even untapped,horizen of knowledge. By summarizing a few points of the negativeimpact versus the the positive impact debate, and an explanation ofusing technology in moderation with supervision, most should be ableto come to agreement that the effect is ultimately good. Parents alwayswant what is best for their children’s physical, mental, social, andemotional development, but most struggle with knowing which way tolean as far as modern day toys and products are concerned. There havebeen a lot of studies done by various groups that explore the prosand cons of children using technology at very young ages, but sincethe topic’s history is only one generation, there is simply notenough evidence to make any concrete determinations. No one trulyknows whether technology is more of a help or mostly a hindrance tothe development and well being of children. There can onlyspeculation at this time.

It would beeasy to believe that today’s children are inherently born with atechnology gene. According to a survey done on parents of youngchildren by ASHA (AmericanSpeech-Language-Hearing Association,) 68% of 2-year-oldsuse tablets, 59% use smartphones, and 44% use video game consoles. Itseems to come naturally to them. Marc Prensky, an internationallyknown speaker on education, came up with the term “digitalnatives,” which reflects the belief in the youngchildren/technology bond. Children who have been around technologyever since they arrived in the world and aren’t intimidated by usingit are the digital natives.

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Anyone who does not fit that descriptionare “digital immigrants” (Prensky). This group had to learn touse and adapt to it later in life. It doesn’t come naturally to themand taking it on can be quite intimidating at first.

Itisn’t uncommon to hear parents, somewhat jokingly, say their toddlersknow more about navigating their smartphones than they do themselves.They are proud that their babies are tech savvy, as they should be. Many parents expect that their children will be using technologieswhen they start school, so they believe the children would be behindfrom the start if they do not have some technological skills ahead oftime.

Some parents lack confidence in their own technologicalabilities and want to make sure that their children are betterprepared. Even financially disadvantaged parents want to be sure thattheir children have opportunities to learn, so they let them spend alot of time at public libraries or with friends or relatives who havecomputers at home. Many try to acquire used computers. Onthe flip side, some parents feel that it is totally unnecessary fortheir young children to have early knowledge of using electronics.They argue that “there is no benefit in an early start because 3technologiesare changing so rapidly.

Anything learned when they are 4 will be outof date within a few short years” (Plowman). Also, they feel thatif they encourage their child to be familiar with technology, thechild might become too absorbed in it and neglect other learningopportunities. “Technology, it is thought, has particularly adverseeffects on preschoolers because they are still developing cognitivelyand socially, leading to advice that young children should not beexposed to computers or television because this will be detrimentalboth at the time and later in life” (Plowman). As long as technology is used appropriately, interactions with technology can provide excellent learning opportunities. For example, learning how to control different types of technologies, getting them to operate a certain way, and having opportunities for personal input to get a personalized response, is great operational learning.

Interactions with technologies can help children to better comprehend the ways of the different cultures of the world. It can create an early yearning to learn more and to be persistent about it. This will help with self-confidence as digital media navigation becomes less intimidating. With the gain of self-esteem, there will be a wider range of pursuits to tackle as the young child grows into an older child, and then from a teenager into adulthood. If misused or overused, however, there can be several negative effects on a child’s development and quality of life. Many homes are saturated with leisure technologies, which can lead to too much television viewing and hours upon hours of playing console games. “24% of 2-year olds use technology at the dinner table-a prime time for the kind of interaction that fosters strong communication development.

By age 8, that percentage nearly doubles (45%.) Also, by age 6, 44% of kids would rather play a game on a technology device than read a book or be read to. By age 8, a majority would prefer that technology is present when spending time with a family member or friend” (New ASHA Survey of U.S. Parents: Significant Percentages Report That Very Young Children Are Using Technology).

“The most rapid period of brain development takes place before age 3,” says Judith L. Page, PhD, 2015 ASHA president. She adds, “The primary way young children learn is through verbal communication that technology simply cannot duplicate.

Despite advances in technology, it remains critical that children have sufficient opportunities to develop their vocabulary and communication skills by listening, talking, reading, and interacting with their parents and others, for which there is no 4 substitute.” Many parents are exhausted after working all day. It can be tempting to use electronics as a “babysitter,” even when it is against parents’ better judgment.

Technology over-usage can cause children to be more sedentary. Instead of being active with physical play, a child might sit for long periods of time using a tablet, a smart phone, a computer, or watching television. This can set the child up for a long lasting struggle with obesity that can eventually come from the lack of exercise.

Another issue is Vitamin D. This vitamin comes from sunshine and is important to our immune system. Since the sun shining on the screens of devices makes one unable to see the screen well, it is easy to conclude that the indoors option will usually win.

Thus, too much use of technology can indirectly cause a deficiency in vitamin D. Besides so muchtime spent inactively due to electronics, excessive time spent insolitude might cause a lack in social skills and emotionaldevelopment. It can be more difficult to develop friendships, andthere can likely be a lack of engagement with the family. Developingcommunication skills is critical in order to do well in school and inlife in general, so it makes one wonder what will happen to so manywho shut themselves off to necessary socialization. What will it doto their self-worth? There have been confusing messages about how touse media from the experts themselves. “For many years, parents andteachers have heard warnings from the American Academy of Pediatricsand other health-related organizations that emphasize the dangers ofchildren consuming media at the expense of social interaction. Animage of a child looking at a screen causes concern, making some saythings like, ‘Those poor kids. They are so isolated and addicted,their brains are turning to mush.

‘ Some parents, 5often those inmiddle- to upper-income demographics, brag that they have never’exposed’ their children to a screen” (Levine and Guernsey). After weighingout the positives and the negatives of the use of electronics byyoung children, most would likely conclude that moderation is thekey. Balance the use of technology with traditional activity.Children’s early experiences with various technologies can complementtheir learning, especially when they are supported and monitored byadults. With parents helping their children when things aredifficult, encouraging and giving praise for achievements and helpingthem manage their emotions when they get frustrated, playing andlearning with technology will be no different from the playing andlearning they’re achieving from other kinds of activities. Newresearch has been done and is getting noticed. The result is lessconfusing and more helpful messaging to families. “In October 2015,for example, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced that itwould be making changes in the next year to its recommendations onhow children use screen time.

Representatives from the academy havecalled for new guidance that is less about avoiding media at allcosts and more about guiding parents and teachers to use it to helpchildren learn” (Levine and Guernsey). A few yearsago, a study was conducted on two Philadelphia libraries, one locatedin an affluent community and the other in an economically distressedpart of the city. For nearly a decade, Susan B. Neuman and Donna C.Celano, along with their research assistants, sat in the twolibraries, carefully observing how parents and children used thebooks and computers within.

Even though one of the libraries was in alow-income area, it provided the same level of offerings of books andcomputers, due to the generosity of a local funder who wanted tolevel the playing field and give disadvantaged families the samelearning opportunities as more well-off Philadelphians. Even thoughthe same offerings existed, the disparities did not go away. Thepresence of computers did not automatically give 6adults and theirchildren a leg up. In the poor community, Neuman and Celano sawexample after example of adults struggling to fill out forms or workwith new software after waiting in line for their allotted 30 minutesat a computer station. They saw children looking at picture books inshort bursts, with few adults around them to guide them throughstories and ask them questions.

They saw kids playing with computergames that took them off on tangents that had little to do withreading stories or learning new skills, or that were not designed tohelp them learn, leading to the pounding of keyboards, frustration,and eventually giving up. Meanwhile,children at the other library were using computers with an adult bytheir side, one who had the technological expertise to guide them toappropriate games and early literacy software, not to mention thetime to ask them questions about what they were playing with. Notonly were these children benefiting from conversation and anintroduction to new skills, they were absorbing information about howcomputers work and how to use them to gain knowledge and solveproblems (Levine and Guernsey). While there are very good explanations from those who are advocatesof technology usage at an early age, as well as reasonable argumentsagainst it, now it should be more evident that when used inmoderation, technology’s effect on young children is significantlymore good than bad, because usage with supervision allows interactionand bonding, gives opportunities for teachable moments, and enhancesknowledge by being much broader in its capabilities.


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