Technology and the Next Generation
Updated: Jun 29, 2021
The innovations and technological advancements of the past decade have been extraordinary. Entertainment has certainly become more interactive as there are countless ways to connect with friends and family online. We are already seeing a generation where family gatherings are held through computer screens. This transition has a significant effect on everyone - especially on children and their development.
Technology, when used correctly, can actually have a very positive effect on a child’s growth. Studies have found that our ability to identify key information buried within a cluster of characters and visual stimuli has increased as technology has become more integrated in our lives. In addition, regular interactions with technology can lead to improved hand-eye coordination, multi-tasking, and reaction time. However, when not properly used, technology can have negative effects on child development.
Here are 3 areas parents and guardians can be mindful of as they hand over their portable devices to their children:
1. Screen Time
Every parent should be regularly monitoring the screen time of their children. Being mindful of the hours your children spend on the internet and other technological devices will help your child find a healthy balance.
A lot of people are becoming more socially anxious as technology has given us less reasons to speak face-to-face.
The videos that children watch should be beneficial and appropriate to their age. Young children’s brains are highly sensitive to the information they are exposed to. Monitoring the content they are consuming is a vital part of ensuring their safety and well-being.
2. Privacy and Safety
As advances in technology lead to increasing levels of connectedness, we must consider the effects that social media and the internet have on our child’s mental health. It is important to know what activities your children are exploring online, as well as cultivating an open relationship where your child feels comfortable discussing any concerning behavior they come across online.
Children in these settings can often be exposed to various degrees of bullying, which can have lasting impacts on a child’s social, emotional development and self-esteem.
While social media can be utilized as a way to strengthen existing relationships, it is important to give adolescents the opportunity to practice conversational and social skills without technology. Children that are constantly using technology may be hesitant to interact with other children in a social environment. Chronic isolation in childhood can have a major impact on a child’s life-long development.
Make sure you give your child plenty of opportunities to practice their social skills. The first step is to model these conversational skills yourself.
3. Social Interaction
With more time spent on technology, younger children are having more issues with face-to-face social interactions. Many seem to prefer to text or talk on social media as opposed to talking to each other in-person. Even when children spend time together, they may spend more time texting or on their phones than actually being together.
Research has shown that there appears to a positive correlation with an increase in social media use and decreased mental well-being in young people. This could explain the rise of mental health problems seen in the current generation. While social media may not directly cause mental health issues, it is most likely a contributing factor.
So how can we create a more meaningful community for young people? Providing volunteer opportunities for young people can help them feel like they are contributing to their community in a real, tangible way. This also gives them opportunities to interact with a wide range of people from different walks of life.
Lastly, encouraging young people to develop their hobbies can introduce them to new groups of people. Extracurricular activities can provide adolescents with comradery, team-building skills, and a sense of belonging. These hobbies can even help adolescents decide what their future careers will look like.
 Twenge JM, Martin GN, Campbell WK. Decreases in psychological well-being among American adolescents after 2012 and links to screen time during the rise of smartphone technology. Emotion 2018;18:765–80.