Digital has become our children’s new reality. What are the dangers and how can we avoid them?
“Digitalization” is, simply put, the penetration of technology into our lives. It describes how regularly and closely we interact with our gadgets, and how technology has become such a large part of our daily experience. Over the last 20–30 years, this process has been steadily accelerating. That is why children are the first to pick up new technologies. Because for them, this is the normal environment in which they grew up. They are accustomed to the fact that every week there is a new technical novelty, every year big brands release new smartphones, and every few years there is another big breakthrough that changes our daily routine.
Kids today don’t just communicate with messenger apps and create Instagram masks; they might also show their everyday experiences in YouTube video blogs, know how to set up a smart home, or find ways to make money from video games.
This quick adoption of new technological trends and platforms along with the deep familiarity with technology that “digital natives” have, comes with dangers. The problem is not in adopting technologies easily. The problem is in the lack of boundaries and critical thinking regarding them. As a result, the term “digital addiction” appeared in our vocabulary. It works just like any other addiction. Don’t you believe it? Try to take the tablet away from your child.We want to focus our attention on these dangers, because you will not change the evolution of the world, but we can help our children “sail through it smoothly”.
Digital addiction is a problem. First of all, it affects a child’s health
A few weeks of the Pokémon Go fever have certainly been the healthiest expression of children’s love for games. It is because the kids were running around the city trying to collect all the Pokémon. But this was probably the only case. Otherwise, more hours with a smartphone, tablet, game console in their hands means more time when the child does not move. On average, children under twelve spend up to six hours a day with gadgets, and teens up to nine hours. It is half of their time while awake.
Our beloved little ones are lying on the couches or sitting in chairs, eating not-so-useful snacks, drinking Coke while going through another level, watching movies or Let’s Play on YouTube.
As a result, children put on weight
In the United States, 18.5% of children are diagnosed with obesity, and half lacks some parameters to be diagnosed with it. This affects not only their health but also their emotional state in general because, as we all know, overweight children have more difficulties in school than those with normal weight.
Being overweight causes several other problems. The first one is the heart.
Children who do not move and spend a lot of time passively weaken their hearts every day. It is difficult for them to go up the stairs. They cannot run 300 meters without panting. They find it difficult to deal with stress when the heart rate rises. This is not a dead-end problem but it takes a lot of effort to solve it.
The second problem of being overweight is a bad posture.
The children’s spine develops and is therefore under stress. If we load it with extra weight or uneven lying on a couch during another round of Mortal Combat, things are only getting worse. Scoliosis and other problems have already become the norm for children, and doctors are not even surprised. But this is not the norm. This is something that can be quite easily corrected if children get more active and start spending less time at home. An additional problem you may see when you look at your kids is when they sit with their phones or tablets with their head tilted, hunched over. This posture also overloads the spine and causes spasms and pain.
What is next? And then there is vision impairment.
It is not all about the fact that children look at the screen a lot. They focus a lot on something, and the eyes are constantly working. They have no time to rest. We, in our childhood, would spoil our eyes like this while reading at night, hiding a lamp under a blanket. The problem of 2019 is that the screens will never disappear, and there will be even more of them. It will be like one big show Pimp My Ride with Xzibit, where everyone will add more screens to our environment because it is convenient. Therefore, the vision situation will worsen.
When a child has health problems, this is the moment when the principle of “like attracts like” is activated. In our case, “disease attracts disease”. A sick child loses disease resistance and is, therefore, likely to get a new disease. This at some point causes the disease to become chronic. And it becomes even more difficult to treat them.
And then a vicious circle occurs.
A nine-year-old Charlie is sick and does not go to school. While sitting at home and being treated, he plays a console, watches movies or YouTube, and chats with friends. His sedentary lifestyle has led him to health problems, and having treatment he continues to live a sedentary life. At the same time, he has fun all the time, because what else can a sick child do, right? And Charlie’s self-discipline has not been developed yet, so he cannot stop in time. He simply changes activity from his smartphone to TV, a console, or a tablet. And so on. Digital addiction leads to diseases that increase gadget usage time, which increases addiction and leads to diseases.
Therefore, the health of children depends not only on the usual hygiene but also on the digital one. Everything needs a balance, and we need to teach our children how to keep it. It is equally unhealthy to spend five hours in the gym and spend this time with a game console (no matter how fun it can be). Our children need to feel a cause-and-effect relation between the moments when they are feeling unwell and those when they spend too much time with a smartphone in their hands.
The second thing influenced by digital addiction is communication.
Our kids have 2,000 Instagram followers and just a few good friends. They know how to take good pictures and shoot funny stories, but when it comes to having an important conversation or defending their point of view, it is difficult for them. They spent less and less time with their families.
Children do not know how to get acquainted.
When they come to a new class or a new company, it is so difficult for them to get comfortable because to open their mouths and say hello is extremely scary. This is because communicating online and communicating offline are two different skills. Our kids are mainly developing online communication skills. This will certainly come in handy at some point but personal communication will never disappear, and it is important to learn how to speak first.
Also, as a result, they are unable to defend their point of view.
The Internet has taught them that if you have a different opinion you can be bullied. Children with high communication skills who can stand up for themselves are able to cope with bullying. And this skill is formed offline, not online.
Kids usually consume content, and not produce it.
Therefore, they have a lot of information in their heads that they cannot use, and when they need to say something on their own, it is difficult for them.
This all becomes evident when our sons and daughters are uncomfortable in places with many people.
They are afraid to speak in class. During the breaks, they hide behind their smartphones from other children, and even if they do not, their communication occurs via a smartphone. They can stand side by side, texting on Instagram and liking each other’s photos. The problem is not in their age. The problem is that when they grow up, the habit will not disappear, it will only increase.
Communication is an essential fundamental skill that affects a child’s success in school, the environment, and then in adulthood. The reality in which our children are afraid to speak, do not know each other, do not stand up for themselves will not be very friendly to them. According to value research, all people who have achieved some success in their business have one common trait. It is called the disagreeableness. It is the ability to say no, the ability to disagree, to do what you think is right, to say what you think is right. The digital addiction of our children not only does not develop this trait but buries it even deeper.
A third consequence of gadgets addiction is learning problems.
There is no wonder really. Learning can be tedious and requires discipline. And there are so many kinds of entertainment a stone throw away that it is almost impossible to resist. The curricula in our schools are evolving, but they are not as fast as the Internet. So our Charlie will always have something more interesting than reading about amphibians.
Addiction to gadgets leads to worse grades primarily because children are becoming less focused.
According to statistics, 80% of children in the US listen to music or watch something when they do their homework. The more defocused they are, the harder it will be for them to manage tasks in the future. Such things have a cumulative effect, and the best way to solve them is to end it up on time.
By learning this way, children get used to multitasking, and this habit will remain.
And if Julius Caesar, according to the legend, somehow managed to do it well, most of us will not do one task well, but do three quite badly. Children make mistakes in tests and tasks not because they do not know but because they are not attentive. Even when they do not know the answer, it can often be found by exclusion and common sense. But when the child is not focused they will not manage it.
Problems accumulate like a snowball because solving them requires a very important life skill that our children lack—self-discipline.
The fact that they do not have it, in general, is clear because it is not an inborn skill. This is what they receive with their upbringing, and to teach children discipline is the parents’ task.
The essence of self-discipline is to create healthy barriers in the minds of children that show where the good and the bad are. Playing video games is not bad, what is not good is playing them the whole day. You can watch a movie in the evening, but if you have not done the home assignment, you should start with it. These cause-and-effect relationships are formed on a daily basis by ordinary actions. And we can shape them by limiting the time our kids spend online and with a gadget in their hands. We need to tell children what is good and what is bad, helping them filter the information. Therefore, this sometimes requires some restrictions. For these goals, we have developed the app. Download Kidslox to be able to:
- Reduce screen time for children.
- Close access to adult content.
- Agree with them about the time they will play with a console.
- Help them fall asleep normally without looking at their smartphone screen an hour before.
These restrictions are inconvenient, aren’t they? But not as inconvenient as the pantheon of problems we described above. If you see the beginnings of your child’s gadget addiction problems, it is worth solving them now. After all, all the diseases, concentration and communication problems occur at our children together. And we need to protect our sons and daughters from them all.