Imagine where the world was at just ten years ago. We didn’t have tools like the Echo Dot to create shopping lists for us and certainly never imagined a platform like Facebook to be our main source of communication, even over texting. The world around is rapidly changing due to many recent technological advancements. Although technologies are designed to make life more convenient, if they’re being utilized by children, then it’s taking away from the raw social experiences that every kid should have.
Suddenly, technology has provoked hysteria among parents. Take for example films like The Little Prince and The Hunger Games. Although they take on a very exaggerated version technology versus humans, they reveal how technology can destroy childhood as we know it. We are subjecting our kids to a world where they suddenly have to compete with robots and obtain social interaction through Face Timing or via Facebook and Instagram accounts. Although this is already the reality, it means that we should work that much harder to balance our children with normal childhood activities such as eating dinner with the family at the table without any smartphones and going outside to shoot some hoops.
Physical activity is not only healthy for kids physically but mentally as well. We can’t restrict kids from going online altogether and experiencing the web for themselves, but we can certainly encourage a healthy balance in order avoid the following ways technology might actually be destroying childhood.
15. What Boredom?
It’s actually a good thing for kids to be frequently bored. Don’t you remember being bored as a child and what you did with that boredom? You had long dialogues with yourself and played pretend doctor with your siblings. You went outside to collect insects and played hopscotch with your imaginary friends. If you were to suggest any of these activities to a child from this generation, they’d look at you like you were a lunatic. Then they’d kick and scream for an iPad so that they could catch up on poorly made Youtube videos that review the latest toys so that they can feel like they were playing without having to. Kids these days will never know the freedom of boredom.
14. It Makes Kids Dumber
Yes, in many ways the internet is informative and educational. But in more readily available ways, the internet is also flooded with trashy and useless information. It also encourages a trend towards what is catchy rather than classy, and now you have teens writing in acronyms and saying ridiculous things like, “Cash me ousside. How bow dah?” A bad infection starts off with one kid saying things that are so incredibly dumb via a comment, vine, or youtube video, and now every kid wants that same kind of attention by also doing and saying dumb things that really don’t make any sense.
13. Everyone’s a Bully
If a kid sees a hilarious meme, he/she wouldn’t think twice about sharing it without realizing that the meme could possibly be ridiculing another human being. Yes, some people have actually initiated lawsuits due to the fact that they’d unintentionally become the face of an embarrassing viral meme. It sounds funny until you’re the object of unwanted attention with the whole entire world as your audience. In some ways, the internet dehumanizes kids because they don’t have to see anyone face-to-face. It makes it so easy for kids to bully others without actually feeling like they’re doing any harm at all.
12. No Creativity
And with that said, kids these days will never know what true creativity looks like. They will never know what it’s like to build forts out of sofa cushions or create chalk art on sidewalks. They’ll never experience the satisfaction of folding a perfectly crisp origami frog or turning a cardboard box into a replica of a castle. Instead, they’ll be creating useless memes and PhotoShopping selfies in their free time. Okay, some of those memes are pretty hilarious, but you get the point. It’s sad that kids these days are limiting their creative activities to just what their fingers will allow them to do to a screen.
11. They’re Lonely
Kids these days will never be able to reminisce on ridiculous childhood memories they shared growing up because most of them were spent in seclusion. Technology turns kids into vegetables who can spend literally four hours sitting in the same position, playing on a tablet or laptop. It’s not unusual to also see parents in front of their own devices and family members having limited interaction with one another. It used to be a joke that you’d text someone sitting in the same room as you, but now it’s common practice. Technology is teaching kids to stick to themselves and that less human interaction is better. It’s not, and sadly it’s turning kids into lonely human beings.
10. They’re Lazier
And if kids don’t have a reason to get up and move, they won’t. Kids these days will never know what it’s like to walk to the library and check out an encyclopedia just so they can write a research paper. Drive by any local park or playground. They’re looking rather empty these days. Slides and swings just don’t get used as much as they used to anymore. Kids would rather stay home and watch Youtube videos or play online games than join a soccer team. And if Siri or Alexa can tell you anything from the weather forecast to your shopping list, then that’s even fewer work kids have to do.
9. More Gullible
With the ability to Google anything under the sun, kids are turning to the Internet for 99% of their knowledge base. And they don’t exclusively rely on Google either. Anything going viral on Facebook or any spam feed has credibility in their books. There just doesn’t seem to be a filter for fact-checking in kid’s minds these days. Since the Internet teaches children that it serves as an outlet for anyone to speak their minds, it doesn’t really matter what is true or false these days because everything is a product of opinion. Kids are not only absorbing false information but now producing and spreading it like a wildfire.
There’s a reason why Michelle Obama worked so hard to promote the ‘Let’s Move’ anti-obesity movement among America’s schools. Thanks to technology, childhood obesity has more than tripled since the 70s. The statistics now show that one in every five kids has obesity. This is staggering news considering that obesity leads to a plethora of other ailments including diabetes and depression. But we can probably link the issue to the fact that kids these days aren’t as physically active as they should be. Technology doesn’t require any physical workout besides your fingers, maybe. And even the Wii is a poor source of fitness. Kids should be out shooting hoops and riding bikes, not stuck indoors glued to some device.
Feeling low? Take an angled selfie with some added Snapchat filters and post this to your live feed. And if you don’t like how your makeup looks, you can Photoshop the lighting or color of your lipstick. You’ll get a couple of likes and a few comments about how cute you look and then you’ll instantly feel better about yourself… Until you see that someone else gets more likes for a selfie they posted after yours. If technology has definitely created anything, it’s a generation of self-absorbed narcissistic youths who think that everything in the world revolves around them and their profile.
6. Sleep Deprivation
Who would want to sleep if you could stay in tuned with your smartphone all night long? And just when you’re about to get some shut-eye, you get a Facebook notification and the cycle repeats. If anyone’s going to struggle with self-control when it comes to turning off technology, it’s going to be children. Statistics show that 75% of children under 8 have access to smartphones. This certainly means that they’re also not getting the recommended ten hours of nightly sleep. Also, it’s harder to shut down after lengthy exposure to blue screens. This is detrimental since the lack of sleep also leads to a number of health risks.
Ever heard of computer rage? It’s a real condition that adults have when they get upset towards their devices. Now imagine a child, who has little to no form of self-control, getting computer rage. It’s a terrible thing for a child to have so little human interaction outside of the computer. He/she won’t learn how to properly handle his/her emotions in comparison to the real world. Instead, the bottled-up emotions develop into anger and frustration because the child lacks healthy communication. So if you have kids, do them a favor and make sure they get enough human interaction outside of technological devices.
Studies have shown that increased screen time is actually linked to ADHD. And with more kids having access to technology these days, the rate of ADHD has drastically increased in recent years. The Center for Disease Control says that 11 percent of American children between the ages of 4 to 17 have attention deficit disorder. Technology allows us to multi-task between so many different priorities that we no longer know how to focus on just one thing at a time. The digital age has conditioned our children to divide their attention and to consume as much of everything at once without really devoting their time to any one particular thing.
Seeing what life is like as portrayed by TV shows, Youtube vlogs, and friends’ Facebook posts can be very deceiving. On the one hand, you get to briefly experience what life is like from someone else’s angle. On the other hand, you get a very shallow and inaccurate portrayal. Kids suddenly start comparing themselves with what they see on the surface of the internet and feel like they don’t quite measure up. They utilize the internet as a way to know how to stay trendy and it suddenly also becomes their measuring stick for measuring everything and comparing in life.
2. No Filter
Just like the trending hashtag #nofilter, the Internet conditions children to have no filter when it comes to expressing themselves. Once you get an outlet where you have the freedom to comment or post whatever you want, you begin to take that freedom and run with it. While this can be a very good thing, children also need accountability. They’re still young and learning about the world around them. Before learning to speak and formulating opinions, children need to learn how to listen and understand the big picture. They also need their thoughts and ideas challenged rather than just assuming that their words don’t carry any weight.
Perhaps this isn’t necessarily destroying childhood, but certainly changing it. Just a decade ago, grade school kids were learning how to type via keyboarding classes. Nowadays, kindergarteners are learning how to program and code. Also, it’s not unusual that every child has a tablet at school and that many classroom lessons require the use of one. Kids can now build websites, edit videos, program video games, sketch digital masterpieces, and do more impressive things than some adults can even imagine doing. In the past, kids would simply learn about different careers without gaining any hands-on tools and now, kids are already preparing for tomorrow’s workforce by gaining those tools today. Kids are training to compete with robots so that they aren’t driven out of tomorrow’s workforce.
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