Impact of electronic gadgets on children

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By Masud Khabeki

 Technology has been playing a vital role in our daily lives. People are having a good time on different gadgets like telephone, radio, TV, games, Xbox, iPodand stereo system. We use gadgets for various purposes like playinggames, watching videos, listening songs, chatting with our friends,browsing different websites. In 2013 Daily mail reported that 29% of the toddlers can easilyuse the gadgets and remaining 70% are master by primary school age.According to the USA Centersfor Disease Controland Prevention, an average child spends about 8 hours a day watchingelectronic screens with substantive increased while growing older. Surprisingly a 2-year-old baby can and knows how to use a gadget,similar to how a kid knows to use a feeding bottle. A study has beenconducted in USA on kids and result shows 1 out of 3 children can usea tablet or phone before they even talk?In this norm we can’t keep ourchildren out of this. But we have to monitor the impact of gadgets on us and especially on children whether it is positive or negative.

There are known benefits in the use of electronic gadgets by the children and its positive impact on cognitive and motor skills of children but there is a need forparents to monitor their children by limiting their time of using these gadgets. The rapid innovation and easy access have encouraged the increased use of such electronic devices. As the gadgets are increasing day byday, it is leading to the technology addiction among people and especially in children. Too much gadget use can affect the long-term visionproblem, chance of myopia also increases in children whenthey spend about 8 hours daily on gadgets. When people use electronicscreens, they blink less. On an average, a person blinks about 15 times ina minute. Due to the high attention required while using an electronicscreen, this rate can drop to less than 5 times in a minute. Remember we have to monitor both positive and negative effects of these electronic devices on our health and especially to the children.

 

Starting with some of the positive impact of electronic gadgets on children may include are Motor skills or the skills which are linked with muscles of smallmovements like lips, fingers, wrists, tongue and toes. So, when toddlersplay games on tablet or any other gadgets their fingers and hands get aworkout. This is such a healthy exercise for growing children. Usingmodern keyboards and keypads or other handheld devices they have norisk of any injury or any kind of threat as compared to playing outside.As a result, they know better use of their hands and fingers and becomevery efficient in it in short time. While Cognitive skills are the ability to process information, reasoning,remembering and relating objects with other objects. These skills aredirectly related to memory, and language. Now-a-day’s technologyhelps faster and better development of cognitive skills in kids. Thegames which they use to play before whether it’s a puzzle or scribblingon drawing books everything now can be done on electronic devices.Like interactive apps, video games, different kinds of challenges andeducative programs available on various kinds of devices. Such productswould always improve a kid’s cognitive skills. The modern gadgets helpto develop their learning skills faster as they are more interested ingadgets then books.Leaving child with a Smartphone, tablet,Xbox or any other handheld device he can spend hours or even weekswith it. So, you don’t have to worry about the child because there is norisk of getting injured or harmed by these gadgets. Also, don’t worryabout any other major mess like painting a wall, disturbing others.Technology has changed all that. Simply a Smartphone can keep a childbusy for hours, whether he is playing games or watching videos etc. furthermore, gadgets are fun for kids while they use them. They enjoy playinggames on them whether it’s a puzzle or race, or candy crush, or a simplefirst-person shooter game, children have fun and they understandsimple aspects of cause and effect, action and reaction. Electronicdevices have much more advanced learning options for children in afun way then books or older methods.Technology has been proven to be very helpful in educating student.Children can access the educational websites and can get detailedinformation about required topic. Technology makes things better ashave access to pile of material and can be very useful in research andunderstanding things better. Visual presentations, educational videos,interactive programs, learning tutorial and variety of books available allthe time on internet has revolutionized education in a better way. Kidslearn state of the art tools and methods by their own. Educational gameshelp children to perform well in their studies. As they can have manyonline quizzes available, online tutorials and brainstorming riddles. These gadgets have provided the children to compete at international level providing them to improve their competitive skills. Playing such competitive games withother people around the world and their relatives, friends they get thefeeling of competition that enhances their skills of competition andenables them to manage themselves in competing environment.

 

At the same these could be a cause of negative effects among users as gadgets occupy kid’s or user’s minds and could be a central cause for speech or language delay. In order to understand the speech or language delay in children firstwe understand the difference between the speech and language. Speechrefers to verbal form of communication used by humans, and languagerefers to the whole system of communication spoken or written,verbal and nonverbal. A child with a language delay might pronouncewords well but only be able to put two words together. A child witha speech delay might use words and phrases to express ideas but bedifficult to understand. Speech delay, also known as alalia, these twoproblems often overlaps. Many researchers have studied this and alsoconcluded many theories about it. By using s screening tool, researchersstudied that the more time children spend on smart phones, tabletsand electronic games and other handheld devices the more likely thechild have delays in expressive speech. Children will learn to talk andcommunicate through interactions with others. This is the way howthey will learn to communicate well if they are not communicating theyare not learning. Everyone minute that your child is spending on thescreen is one minute fewer that he could speak or learn with others.Screen time is the time your child is spending on screen whether it’s TVor any other gadget. Screen time takes away the time of child which hecan spend by talking and communicating with other people.This can be well understood by an example if you are travelling in acar with you children. Your children have a screen in front of him as heis watching his favorite TV show or playing any game. So, you will notinterrupt him by talking or asking something, on the other side, if hedon’t have any gadget in front of him he would probably be talking andcommunicating with you. Using a screening tool, researchers foundthat the more handheld screen time a child’s parent reported, the morelikely the child was to have delays in expressive speech, concluding thatfor each 30-minute increase in screen time, a child was 49 per cent morelikely to be at risk of expressive speech delay.The study found that the more time children between the ages ofsix months and two years spent using handheld screens such as smartphones, tablets and electronic games, the more likely they were toexperience speech delays.

The gadgets could be instrumental in causing attention deficit or Hyperactivity Disorder among children. It refers to problems like paying attention, excess activity orhas difficulty controlling behavior which is not appropriate. This canoccur in children and cause them to be fidgety, unable to focus, restlessand easily distracted. This change in behavior can cause problem atschool or at home as well. Furthermore, children learn lot of things before the age of five even toddlerslearning perspective is much faster than children. If they are usinggadgets their time to communicate with their parents and learning isbounded. They need proper time talking with their parents, so they canlearn new words and how to communicate. They need their parents notgadgets. Also, exposure of theses gadgets is linked to cognitive delaysand impaired learning. It is pertinent to mentions that children had shown aggression or appear tense and aggressive when they are grounded to use electronic gadgets and this feeling magically vanished when their devices are given back. These electronic gadgets are instrumental in creation of negative impact on the characters of younger generation and has been seen as the biggest problems in this growing world oftechnology. Children use internet to see adult content rather to searchfor educational websites. This practice leads bad impact on theircharacter. They forgot their moral values. They are the future of thecountry. They become mentally advanced beyond their age.

 

Masud Khabeki is adjunct faculty Criminology at University of Arid Agriculture, Rawalpindi