NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF TECHNOLOGY ON CHILDREN 1
Negative Effects of Technology on Children of Today
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The use of technology in the classrooms is becoming more prominent every day. It has enabled
the teachers to pass comparatively more information in a shorter time than it was traditionally
possible. Although technology through media and electronic gadgets are able to help children to
gain vast amounts of knowledge, taught them how to be independent and has given them access
to educational resources; there are some negative influences that are accompanied with the
positive ones which should not be neglected. Introducing technology to children at young age
can have adverse effects in their personal lives, their relationships with others, and their health in
the future. It can also lead children to social isolation and give rise to other serious physical and
mental diseases such as, obesity, computer vision syndrome, and depression.
Technology, children, screen devices, obesity, social isolation, depression,
computer vision syndrome, electronic gadgets, smartphones, tablets, digital cameras, social
media platforms, networks, software, applications, internet.
NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF TECHNOLOGY ON CHILDREN 3
Effects of Technology on Children of Today
This is the age of technology. The world has changed drastically after
the industrial revolution. According to Merriam-Webster technology can be defined as “an
application of knowledge to the practical aims of human life or to changing and manipulating the
human environment. Technology includes the use of materials, tools, techniques, and sources of
power to make life easier or more pleasant and work more productive. Whereas science is
concerned with how and why things happen, technology focuses on making things happen”.
(Technology, 2014) But the best way to look at technology is by comparison with the past as we
continue to strive to create a better world with a superior standard of living. Smallpox was
eliminated by a vaccine; the internet helps overcome social, racial and sexual barriers.
Computers have revolutionized knowledge and education by making it more accessible to all the
people, but can we always regard that more technology is the answer to all the world’s
problems? Some may argue otherwise, the atom bomb and the race for nuclear weapons was a
result of technology, and ozone depletion is a direct result of the pollution caused by the
industries with capabilities of mass production. Many studies have concluded that children’s
physical, personal and social development will suffer due to the excessive exposure to
technology. (Dorman, 1997; Miller, 1993) Some of the technological gadgets that our children
have access to include computers, mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, digital cameras,
social media platforms and networks, software applications, the Internet, etc. So today our
children are brilliantly using their screen devices while they are unable to ride their bikes or tie
their own shoes without relying on help from others. Therefore, parents need to limit the amount
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of time a child uses his or her screen device and instead encourage activities that enhance the
child's overall physical and mental well-being.
Introduction of computers to children at a very young age can have adverse effects in their
personal lives, relationships in the family and friends since they will constitute a major part of
the children’s lives. (Welch, 1995) In America, about 40% of the children have access to a
computer and most parents encourage their kids to use a computer on a frequent basis. (Green,
1996) At the same time, concern should be expressed about the possibility of having isolating
effects of computers on children. Such effects of excessive preoccupation with computers
leading to social isolation have also been seen in adults hence, it poses a danger to both. (Kupfer,
1995; Stoeltje, 1996) “Technology addiction can lead to social isolation which is characterized
by a lack of contact with other people in normal daily living which could in the workplace, with
friends and in social activities”. (Hosale, 2013) It can also cause a condition called Neurosis
which deals with psychological and behavioral disorders. Its symptoms include anxiety, sadness
or depression, anger, irritability, mental confusion and may also lead to a sense of low
self-worth. Because of technology such as cell phones, internet and gaming systems today kids
are less likely to interact with each other face to face. Kids nowadays are inseparable from their
phones because they are so dependent on them. They spend every spare minute they have on a
gaming system or online or through text messages which reduces their ability to socially interact
with others outside in the real world. There is data which proves that any individual, kid or an
adult who browses the internet frequently is likely to spend over 100 minutes less time with
friends and family than non-internet users. (Mads, 2011) Also Kids who are dependent on
technology get a sense of satisfaction and feel much happier when they are on Facebook or
NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF TECHNOLOGY ON CHILDREN 5
playing video games with their virtual friends online rather than socializing with their real
friends and doing something funny outdoors. A study done on a 1000 students in 10 different
countries including China, Chile, the U.K and Uganda were unable to voluntarily unplug
themselves from using any technological devices for only 24 hours. The study also concluded
that students felt frustrated, lonely, anxious and had heart palpitations. (Dakin & Chung, 2011)
Many studies have been conducted to create a correlation between time spent by children to
their body mass index (BMI). “A statistically significant relationship exists between TV viewing
and body fatness among children and youth although it is likely to be too small to be of
substantial clinical relevance. The relationship between TV viewing and physical activity is
small but negative”. (Marshall, Biddle, Cameron, Gorely & Murdey, 2004) This was supported
by another study which studied the associations between physical activity, screen time and
weight from 6 to 14 years. Based on the study it can be concluded that most unhealthy
characteristics are established in early childhood which means that physical activity, screen time
and weight status of a child at age 6 can predict the outcome at 14. The results presented in the
study highlighted the importance of intervention as most kids in the present generation are
already glued to their screens and overweight. (Hands et al., 2011) There is a tendency for both
adults and children to eat more while watching television and all the food advertisements can
make it difficult to resist. Another health concern which is on the rise in children due to them
being attached to their electronic gadgets and screens is the digital eye strain and computer
vision syndrome. This condition is because of the focusing up close which is difficult and tiring
to the eyes and causing dryness and headaches and eventually may lead to more nearsightedness.
These vision problems can be averted by taking a break every 20 minutes from focusing on the
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screen and looking at another object at least 6 meters away for about 20 seconds which will relax
the eyes from focusing up close, changing the position of the screen from 0 to 15 degree below
the eye level, wearing computer glasses or using anti glare screens. (Barthakur, 2013)
Apart from children’s physical strains and mental health, there are other concerns and hence a
child should never be allowed to spend a lot of time with their computers without adult
supervision. One of the big ones is safety, there are a large number of chat rooms where
predators could try to lure children and take advantage of them. “Pedophiles are finding new
ways and new opportunities to network with each other on how to exploit children” said [a] U.S.
Attorney present at a news conference where federal agents who warned that seemingly friendly
Web sites like MySpace or Facebook were often used by sexual predators as victim directories.
“Young girls who are innocently posting very personal information, or their identities, on these
sites are setting themselves up for disaster” [he] said. (Filosa, 2007) Most of the content which
is easily accessible by children might not be appropriate for them. Children are also show traits
of higher aggression when they are exposed to violence on television or computer. They are
misleading to believe that violence towards other kids is normal. Since younger children can be
molded easily, they can easily pick up wrong traits from television shows such as stealing, doing
drugs, smoking etc. It also instills fear in them as most of the kids would rather send a message
on Facebook or text to someone they have differences with rather than sort it out face to face.
Finally, if one was to ask a child today to solve a simple math question a majority of them
would have to refer to a calculator to answer the question simply because they have always relied
on technology. Many kids are also dependent on spell check to correct their mistakes which does
not have the same learning effect that getting a dictionary and looking up a word would have on
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the kid. Although both calculators and spell checks are great tools and allow children more time
to be creative rather than having to spend time on repetitive work; they hinder the educational
development of the child if they are too dependent on them.
To learn more about the negative effects of technology on children, I conducted an interview
with Dr. Mary Lewis who is a professor of psychology at Oakland University. She shared her
views about exposing children to different forms of technology and how it may lead children to
be anxious and socially isolated from others. She talked about the bridge between education and
technology and lastly shared some advice for the parents on the concerning issues.
Dr. Lewis in her interview agreed that parents need and should introduce technology to
their young children because it would be disadvantageous educationally to them if they don’t.
She confirmed that in current times education delivery is largely dependent on technology. She
mentioned that interview television programs like Blue’s clues and Dorothy the explorer were
designed based on children cognition and the ways by which they learn. She explained how in a
similar way there were educational applications that can help children with reading and math.
On the other hand she agreed with the negative effects technology has on our children. Dr. Lewis
indicated that children who are preoccupied with technology are less socially interactive with
other human beings. She thinks that there is direct link between temperament of the child and
technology and social isolation, as a recent study had proved that kids who were socially anxious
initially put to use a lot of technology actually became more socially anxious in real life
situations but less online, these were kids who considered the primary world was the virtual
world and did not feel the need for human interaction, on the other hand kids who were always
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social were not affected by technology at all. (M. Lewis, personal communication, November
Finally she established that there was a need for parents to monitor the use of technology by
their children and she believed it was very difficult to limit the time they spend using technology
because schools nowadays prefer to upload most of the homework online. So she asserted that
though she cannot limit the time spent by them on their technological devices, she would never
put a technological device in her children’s rooms but rather put it in a public place in the house
where she could monitor them at all times. (M. Lewis, personal communication, November 13,
In order to better study the issue a survey was conducted by Common Sense Media
Organization and GfK Group to study children’s use of media today. According to Common
Sense Media this survey is the second in a series of national surveys of children’s media use; the
first was conducted in 2011. There were 1,463 participants in the study, all of whom were
children of ages 8 and under, they were accompanied by their parents. According to them the
term “mobile media” is used to refer to smartphones; tablet devices such as iPads, Androids, or
similar products; and other devices such as the iPod Touch that can connect to the Internet,
display videos, and download “apps”. (Common Sense Media Organization, 2013) The survey
consisted of several questions about interaction of children with technology. From the data
obtained it was concluded that astounding 96% of the participants owned a television set in their
household of which 70% claimed to have either cable or satellite. As expected 78% of the
participants owned a pc or a laptop and most had access to high speed internet. At least 69%
claimed to own some type of gaming system making it the third most owned electronic device.
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Only about 21% of the participants owned a Kindle or some type of Ereader. Among the
participants 63% of them owned a smartphone and about 80% of them knew what an app was.
As expected only 12% felt that the media helped them to spend more time as a family while it
was surprising that 58% believed that it did not affect the time at all. Another surprise was that
only 26 % of the children owned a handheld gaming device. Some of the other interesting
findings of the survey were that Tablet use among children had increased to 40% from 8% in
only two years time. But, children’s access to either a tablet or a smartphone increased to 75%
from 50% in the same time. The survey also concluded that children spent less time watching TV
and more on their tablets and smartphones. (Common Sense Media Organization, 2014)
The survey demonstrates how technology has become a part of our day to day life. Almost all
subjects of the study owned or had access to some sort of technological device. It’s astounding to
see the rate at which the use of smartphones tablets has increased in children ages of 8 and under.
Although Dr. Green had stated in his paper that 40% of the children have access to a personal
computer, from the survey it is evident that number has increased to 69%.The claims of Dr.
Dorman and Dr. Miller were supported by Dr. Lewis as she confirmed that exposure to
technology can have adverse effects like social isolation, personal development etc. The issue of
social isolation as a direct result of excessive use of technology has been confirmed by all the
sources. Some participants in the survey did confirm Dr. Mads results that the media
reduced the amount of time they spent as a family together.
In conclusion, we discussed the pros and cons technology can have on the development of a
child. The benefits may at times shadow the negative aspects but they definitely cannot be
ignored. Children are the future of our world and the use of technology hinders their overall
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development. The parents should serve as the guards so their children are able to obtain
maximum benefits of technology since its use has become an integral part of our society and this
can be done by supervising children’s use of technology and monitoring them while they are
connected to the virtual world at all times. Although as Dr. Lewis established it may be difficult
to limit the time they spend using their technological devices it should still be within reason
where the children do not form a sense of addiction with them. With that being said all the
physical health risks and potential mental issues can be resolved or prevented with a certain
amount of physical activity. In young adults or children it can have a positive impact on the
domains of motor skills, psychological well-being, cognitive development, social competence
and emotional maturity along with all the physical benefits. ( Cardon, Van Cauwenberghe & De
Bourdeaudhuij, 2011) Thus parents need to take time out of their busy schedules and make time
for them to connect with their kids by doing outdoor recreational activities on a regular basis so
they are equipped to face the real world and can avoid the negative aspects of technology from
affecting their children.
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