We’ve spent a lot of time at Totoli thinking about the positive and negative effects of technology on children. Technology is an indispensable part of everyday life for our kids at home, at school, on the road, and in the company of friends, family, and peers. We already know from our own lives that it can be an extremely powerful tool, and that understanding technological developments over the years is essential. At the same time, we’re well aware of our dependence on our devices. That’s why we spelled out the pros and cons in this article to help you shape the role of technology in your household in a way that works best for you.
- Access to information
One of the main forms of technology we use every day is consuming content on the internet through our devices. We have so much information available to us that it can be overwhelming, and it’s the same for our children. It’s our responsibility to curate and point towards the kind of high quality content our kids need to help them learn, widen their perspectives, and build their self-esteem. Processing information will also help them improve their critical thinking skills and equip them with knowledge that will complement their existing formal education.
- Digital literacy
Digital literacy means more than just knowing how to work a computer or smartphone. It means being a digital native speaker who knows how devices work, understands internet culture, is adaptable to new technologies, and isn’t surprised by anything that happens in the digital world. Introducing kids to technology early ensures that they get the chance to build a relationship with tech that works for them. They’ll be prepared for both the challenges and opportunities that may come.
- Independence and responsibility
Being introduced to devices and understanding the value of technology can foster a sense of independence and personal responsibility that can last a lifetime. When you trust children with looking after a device and set healthy boundaries around its use, you can assess their readiness and encourage them to correct mistakes as they happen. Sooner or later, kids will all have their own devices and will be free to use them as they please – it’s a matter of preparing them early on so they make responsible decisions unsupervised in the future.
- Learning and education
There’s an abundance of thoughtfully designed educational apps, games, and streaming content that’s all geared towards teaching kids age-appropriate skills in school subjects like math, spelling, reading, and art, and regular developmental subjects like motor skills and problem solving. In addition to those specific applications, all tech usage has some instructive value. Watching TV and playing video games responsibly can be educational as well. In fact, check out all 30 surprising benefits of playing video games in this article.
- Social connectivity
The ability to stay in touch conveniently with people all around the world is one of the biggest benefits of technology that we can all agree on. Video calling and instant messaging make it possible to stay connected to family and friends on a daily basis. More specifically, it’s important to note that social media is the primary method for kids and teens to not only talk but participate in youth culture together. If you remove tech from the equation, you’re removing one of the main ways kids relate to each other.
- Dependence and addiction
If you shudder at the sight of your phone’s screen time measurement, then you’re already familiar with the potential for tech dependence and addiction. We’re spending more time on our devices and in front of screens than ever before, and it’s important to stay aware of the tech usage and habits at home. Our children often mold their behavior after us, so it’s vital to set a good example. Check out our article about the relationship between kids and technology for more information about current usage rates and more.
- Safety and privacy concerns
While the internet can be an enlightening and educational place, it can also be a hazardous area full of inappropriate ads, in-app purchases, harmful content, and dangerous online interactions like cyber bullying. We covered all the ways that kids are using the internet today in this article, and included some internet safety tips for both kids and teens. Stay up to date on what kind of platforms and content are available to kids and keep the safety and privacy conversation going with your kids on an ongoing basis.
- Attention span problems
Being a regular smartphone and internet user doesn’t automatically lead to attention span problems. However, continual passive engagement with any device can cause problems in kids and teens if left unchecked.
- Sedentary lifestyle
Spending an inordinate amount of time with tech, whether it’s consuming content in a sedentary position or playing video games, can add up to a sedentary lifestyle that causes physical and mental strain. Left unchecked, this can lead to musculoskeletal problems and greater risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease later in life.
- Poor sleep hygiene
The blue light from screens suppresses the release of melatonin, the hormone that normally makes us feel drowsy and prepares us for sleep. Staring at a device right before bed is an impediment to healthy sleep. Practicing good sleep hygiene by avoiding devices an hour before bed or even putting them in a separate room from where your kids sleep can counteract this problem, which can lead to unpleasant sleep issues.