Six Myths About Technology’s Impact on Children

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Parents and educators tend to have a lot of questions and differing opinions when it comes to exposing children to computers and gadgets. They find it hard to determine what is best, especially since these products were not around when they were growing up. Media has covered and presented several advantages and disadvantages of children being exposed to different technologies, but there is little evidence to go on. In its absence, a number of widespread myths about children and technology have emerged:

1. More active screen time will lessen physical activity.image 1

Cutting back kids’ time watching TV and playing video games may not encourage them to spend more of the day running around outside. A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on just over 1,200 U.S. children, aged six to 11 showed no clear connection between physical activity and active screen time. Tala Fakhouri, the study lead author for CDC said, “I don’t think it’s as simple as, if a child is not watching television, then by default that child will be physically active.” Obesity was once tied both to not getting enough exercise and to spending too much time in front of TV and computer screens, but researchers said the new study backs up earlier findings showing too much screen time and not enough exercise may be separate issues that parents and schools need to address independently.

2. Video games have no educational value.

image 2It was once believed that video games simply cause children to have unfinished school work or develop social problems. However, researchers from the University of Bristol’s Teachers Evaluating Educational Multimedia (TEEM) found many games to be of significant educational value. Head Professor Angela McFarlane stated that, “Adventure, quest and simulation type games have a lot of benefit – they’re quite complex and create a context in which children can develop important skills.” These skills include: strategic thinking and planning skills, visual awareness, the capacity to pay attention to details, quicker attention deployment, faster processing, problem solving skills, and hand-eye coordination. In the end, the educational value boils down to content not the platform.

3. Electronic media impede the development of emergent literacy skills.

Some educators have argued that the digital age has put children off reading and has produced a generation which spends too much time playing computer image 3games. However, more and more applications and games have been created to help children build basic emergent literacy skills – listening, speaking, reading, and writing. More and more interactive e-books offer read-along stories and learning activities based on children’s literature titles. Applications have been created to teach phonics and a number of software have been created to introduce writing tools with speech support in several languages. All these electronic media support emergent literacy skills development. With proper guidance, children can surely increase their literacy through technology.

4. Technology weakens the social skills of children.image 4

Some parents and educators worry that media technology is replacing physical play and social interactions necessary for the development of social skills, empathy for other people, and heart connections. According to Sara Childre, Institute of HeartMath’s President and CEO, “technology can also play a role in helping children develop socially and emotionally, when used in balance.” Technology provides platforms of socialization and exchange of information providing children more access to people of different cultures and lifestyles. They learn to care about what is happening on the other side of the world and gain an understanding and connectedness to the greater whole. Video games also offer ways for kids to collaborate, take turns, and learn basic principles of teamwork and sharing. Interestingly, the TEEM UK study investigation into the habits of 700 children aged seven to 16 also found that, far from being a solitary activity, children preferred to play computer games in pairs or small groups.

5. Technology saps out children’s creativity.

image 5More and more technology are becoming available to help children develop their creativity. Photography, for instance, has grown to be readily accessible. A craft that used to be expensive, children can now take photos of just about anything and edit the images to their hearts’ desire. These types of exposure may then trigger the passion to one day become a photographer. Moreover, various applications on tablets and smartphones help children explore their talents. Some of these applications allow children to create their own music, sing songs, write stories, or learn how to play instruments.

6. Technology takes away the best educational experiences that can be gained from play.

Some children integrate the use of technology in dramatic play. They take digital photos of family, pets or use computers and cellphones in their pretend offices, homes, and shops. Studies suggest that interactions with technologies could support the four main areas of learning (Plowman, Stevenson, Stephen, &Mc Pake, 2012), namely:

Operational learning
Learning how to control and use technologies, getting them to do the things you want and having opportunities to make your own inputs and get personalized response.

Extending knowledge and understanding of the world
By finding out about people, places and the natural world.

Dispositions to learnimage 6
As they become increasingly competent users of digital media, children show greater concentration, persistence and their self confidence and self esteem flourishes.

The role of technology in everyday life
As they observe adults involved in a wide range of pursuits, children learn that technology provides opportunities to design things, order goods, research travel, even though they cannot yet undertake these activities.

The multiple benefits of technology on children’s development outweigh these myths. Parents are encouraged to enter into the world where their children are increasingly spending more and more time. By learning to navigate that world with them, they can better guide them on how to manage themselves and their time within it. With proper guidance and balance, children will surely develop holistically with the electronic devices available today. Get valuable information, tips, and strategies on raising children in the digital age. Click here for FREE UPDATES.

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