Are children being negatively affected by technology and having a less meaningful childhood?

“No”

Alex new mugAlex Heldrich, Reporter

In today’s day in age, technology is everywhere. It’s in pockets, homes, schools, businesses and streets. One simply can’t escape technology’s grasp. Anyone in American born in the ‘90s or later has grown up with cellphones and computers within reach, something different from previous generations.

Of course, growing up with such revolutionary inventions has impacted this generation’s children and teenagers way of life, but such change isn’t necessarily negative.

Most teenagers have some sort of social media. According to pewinternet.org, 95 percent of all teens age 12-17 use the Internet and 81 percent of teens use social media. Many adults perceive teens as constantly being glued to their phones, which isn’t necessarily wrong. However, they aren’t just mindlessly playing Angry Birds. Social media allows people to connect with others from all around the world. Because of social media, people can stay in close contact with friends who have moved away. Few anti-technology adults can say that they’ve actually been sending letters back and forth with their old friends for more than a couple years. Technology has taken ‘pen-pals’ to the next level. By just logging onto Twitter or Instagram, someone can instantly see what someone from across the world is up to and what their culture is like. It takes weeks for a letter to be sent from Puyallup to New Zealand, but one can slide into a New Zealand hottie’s DM’s in seconds.

Technology has also revolutionized the way that news and activism is spread. One can learn about what’s happening in the world like no other generation ever has. Because of this, people from all corners of the world can rally together to fight an unwanted government policy or send love to a person or country going through something horrific.

Technology and social media has been a platform for concepts such as feminism and the Black Lives Matter movement to flourish. Online activism is changing this generation faster than any other activist movements in the past.

Twelve year old girls are sticking up for themselves and the way they’re been treated. Black people are fighting against the daily hate that they face and exposing systemic racism for what it is. Confused teenagers are learning that the ‘unordinary’ feelings that they experience regarding sexuality and gender are normal and that there’s a term for it. Before technology, it wasn’t until college that most people became involved in these sorts of movements, but now it’s reaching kids who are only in middle school.

Another thing that’s made possible by this generation’s use of technology is the new medium for artists to spread their work. Musicians can now rack up thousands of views on their videos, graphic artists can create digital artwork using computer programs and even traditional artists can jumpstart their careers by posting and selling their art online. Up and coming writers can post their work on heavy traffic websites like wattpad.com or archiveofourown.org.

Fewer kids may go outside to play from dawn to dusk as they used to, but that doesn’t mean that kids aren’t being active anymore. The world is very different from how it was 30 years ago. The world 30 years ago is very different from how it was 30 years previous. All generations have their pros and cons, and one isn’t necessarily better than the other. Kids and teens from this generation are simply thriving with what’s presented to them, just like adults did when they were young.

“Yes”

Suzanne mugSuzanne Buchholz, Reporter

In this modern age, it’s incredibly rare to see anyone who doesn’t have some sort of technological device with them at all times, sometimes more than one. These devices range from cellphones to even smartwatches that have all the same functions as an iPhone. Lately, even young children have their own cellphones and similar devices that they use almost constantly.

These devices are capable of incredible things and can help kids in a variety of ways, from allowing them to keep in close contact with their parents to aiding them with homework assignments. But as more kids become increasingly attached to the tiny screens in their hands and spend less time in the real world around them, someone might wonder if technology is actually detrimental to their quality of life.

In today’s society, it’s virtually impossible to complete schoolwork without technology, with teachers and professors requiring students to completely type out assignments, use online resources to find material for research projects and even submit homework and take tests on the Internet instead of in a classroom. But when students have these devices with them in the classroom when they need to be focused and listen to their instructors, it can create a problem. According to a report by The Washington Post, many students are caught using their cellphones and laptops on frivolous tasks such as watching YouTube videos and checking social media accounts rather than paying attention to the lesson. The result of this behavior is the instructor having to pause the class in order to confiscate the device or give a lecture on the importance of putting away these devices during class, which not only takes valuable class time away but also distracts other students. This causes students to miss out on crucial information, which could ultimately alter their grades.

According to the same report, students who always turn to technology to find material for school projects or homework answers are becoming too reliant on it, as it often hinders their ability to seek out answers for themselves. It causes them to believe that they can find anything they need with a few quick keystrokes and that all of the information they’re finding is valid, a situation that’s often referred to as the “Wikipedia problem.” This might lead them to using incorrect information without realizing it, as they’re either too trusting of these sources or simply don’t feel like looking for additional sources to support it. The result would be lower grades on assignments as well as a lack of accomplishment because they took the easiest route they could find to get their work done.

Technology hasn’t only impeded on school, but on the family life of many kids as well. There are certain benefits of technology among family, such as parents being able to keep in touch with their children outside of the home. But when families are together, many children seem to prefer playing on their digital devices rather than interacting with their parents or siblings. According to a report by Psychology Today, children are often so engrossed in their technology that they don’t even notice when their parents return home from work 50 percent of the time and only greet them about 30 percent of the time. It’s also noteworthy to observe that many parents don’t understand as much about technology as their children do, which creates a divide between them in that they can’t properly use technology to communicate with them. Parents who do understand technology and are involved in social media are just as likely to be snubbed by their children, however, as many children have reported that they don’t want to be “friended” by their parents on websites like Twitter. This rift in communication can lead to families growing apart. Without having a connection to their parents, children might grow up without the proper support and guidance they need to become well-rounded and educated adults.

An obsession with technology coupled with a lack of communication with parents could lead to behavioral issues in children, as well. Children who spend their days playing video games or watching TV might become more withdrawn and have fewer social interactions with others. This behavior could carry on outside of their homes as well, as children use their cellphones and other devices instead of socializing with their peers in school and other places. This might cause them to have fewer friends and thus less motivation to spend time outside of the house and away from their gadgets. They might develop better relationships with friends they meet online through various media, but could also pose a risk as someone doesn’t know exactly who’s on the other side of the screen. Children could become secretive, which could cause them to not trust their parents and have strained relationships with family and friends.

One other major area of a child’s life that can be affected by technology is their self-image. When children go online or watch TV, they’re constantly bombarded with advertisements that promote new items that children might want because they feel material possessions will make them fit in with their peers or make them feel jealous of things others have that they be unable to afford. These ads might also suggest a so-called “perfect” image that they should try to live up to, like wearing certain clothing or having a certain weight or hair style. Children might see these images and believe that they’re inadequate if they don’t live up to such standards, which could cause their self-esteem to plummet and lead to problems in other areas of their life. They might even resort to desperate means of achieving this glamorized sense of perfection, such as stealing if they want something so badly or developing an eating disorder just so they look like their favorite celebrity. Self-confidence issues could prevent children from taking chances and participating in some events and could potentially damage career prospects in the long run.

Children can benefit from technology in many ways, but should be limited to stop them from suffering these drawbacks. Much like with junk food, the key is moderation to maintaining a good balance of using technology and connecting with the real world. If children took more time to hang out with friends and bond with their family instead of keeping their eyes glued to their gadgets, they might learn to appreciate an unplugged life like their parents might have had.

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost

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Are children being negatively affected by technology and having a less meaningful childhood?

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