If you’re over 30, your childhood was probably full of running around in the playground with your friends, watching cartoons, playing board games and toys. You probably long for those simpler days where the biggest concern you had was whether to play hide and seek or race with your friends on your bicycles. For your parents, those early years were most likely a little nerve wrecking. They would fill yours and your siblings’ ears with warnings to not wander too far from home and to get back in time for dinner. Oh, those were the days, weren’t they?
If you’re under 30, your childhood most likely looked nothing like that. When you were a child in the 2000s and 2010s, your days were filled with playing computer games, watching YouTube videos and scrolling through social media such as Facebook, Myspace or Twitter. There was no need to leave the house in order to have fun or even to socialize with your friends. Your parents were probably thrilled with this change, knowing that their children were safe and sound at home instead of gallivanting around the neighborhood.
Unbeknownst to them, the rapid rise of technology in these past few decades had a major impact on their parenting, for better or for worse. The effect of the internet on children and teenagers is a given while how parenting has changed due to these effects is less of a conversational topic. Gone were the days where good parenting consists of making sure to buy comprehensive medical insurance plans malaysia and getting homework done. When your children own gadgets, their development is heavily impacted. Let’s take a look at exactly what these effects are and the adjustments parents have made to accommodate these changes.
Arguably the most significant effect that technology has on adolescents is that it shortens their attention spans. Everything on the internet goes at an extremely fast pace. A great example would be TikTok videos and other short format videos where a ton of information is imparted within minutes, sometimes even seconds. When young, developing children with their malleable minds are often exposed to this method of quickly processing knowledge, anything that takes more than a few minutes to read and understand becomes a chore. Children no longer have the capacity to pay attention for long periods of time the way they used to back in the days when reading was a popular pastime activity.
The way most parents choose to increase their children’s attention span is through, of course, reducing their children’s time with gadgets. This is the simplest and most effective way of combating most technological drawbacks. Additionally, research has proven that reading to your children or getting them to read by themselves is a great way to encourage them to focus. Other activities with similar effects include playing with Legos or puzzles which requires long attention spans to complete.
Since most children no longer feel inclined to leave the house and go to the park to play with their friends, their physical health has become a major concern. Before the internet and advanced technology, adolescents were much more physically healthy as they ran around and did sweaty activities more, indirectly exercising. Nowadays, children are stuck sitting motionlessly in front of their laptops, tablets, smartphones and television sets. They forgo more physically taxing hobbies which proves detrimental to their health. In more extreme cases, teenagers who are addicted to technology such as watching television shows or playing video games even sacrifice their sleep or meal times in order to keep playing or watching. The myriad of negative health concerns gained from this addiction like sleep deprivation, increased aggression, depression, anxiety, anorexia, bulimia and so much more doesn’t bear thinking about to a parent.
To ensure their children get enough exercise, parents often take their kids for a day out every few days or during weekends. Some popular destinations include wide places where you can run around like the park, swimming pool, playground and the beach. Even though it’s not nearly like the old days where children do physical activities every day, it’s better than nothing. Parents with teenagers who are addicted to technology often download apps or extensions on their gadgets which restricts long term usage. These extensions are customisable so parents can set the amount of time their teens are allowed to spend time watching movies or playing video games. Once the time limit has been reached, the gadgets will then shut down or a notification will be sent to their parents’ phones. This might seem a tad cruel but everything is better in moderation and technology is no different.
The sight of a family dining at a restaurant but every member is engrossed with their smartphones is no longer a rare sighting. Most times, even the little children at the table are busy watching Cocomelon on their tablets. This is an example of how technology has stunted the growth and strength of interpersonal relationships, particularly for young underdeveloped children. Having spent all their lives preoccupied with their gadgets, we can’t expect these new age children to be experts at managing the relationships they have with the people in their lives. They’re more familiar with phone screens than they are with real actual people, after all. Some teenagers might even seek refuge on social media and ignore the people around them as they are too overwhelmed at the prospect of human interaction.
Parents who seek to improve their children’s interpersonal skills often have to play psychiatrist for their kids. They have to do the emotional heavy-lifting in order to understand their child’s emotions and fears when it comes to talking with other people. This necessitates a bunch of sometimes uncomfortable conversations. Another parenting technique would be to surround your children with other kids, forcing them to interact with each other. After all, people are not solitary beings, human connection comes easily once the initial fear and anxiety wears off.
Technology has brought countless benefits to the world and society at large. But, as is the case with everything else, there must always be certain drawbacks that come with innovation. Even though the use of advanced gadgets have impacted our children in some negative ways, that’s what parents are for! Always there to help and to do what’s best for their children.