How technology has created addiction for our children
Technology is ubiquitous. One cannot go anywhere without being confronted by technology in some form. Technology has made advances for many professions from medicine to education. Social media has connected individuals with one another, so much so, that people living thousands of miles apart can connect at any time of the day. Technology has made shopping easy, as with one click consumers can purchase most products online. It has also made the task of living extremely convenient, as one no longer has to wait hours, days or weeks to receive information or products. However, this convenience has come at a cost, as seen in the rise of technology-related addictions in children.
Children encounter technology in many places, most initially interacting with technology at school where it has made learning more accessible. In the educational setting, technology manifests itself in the form of PowerPoint lessons, interactive games that help master skills, and as resources that provide information.
At home, it is common for a family to own at least one PC or laptop, in addition to a television. In the past, a child could spend hours watching television programs or playing video games on a console, and all a parent needed to do was unplug the television and the gaming console if the child played excessively. However, with the advent of cell phones, a child need only log on to a device with Internet access to play games or access their social media accounts. Today, children chat online, check their social media accounts and talk, and text on their cell phones, making parental control of media access difficult.
While technology is a great tool, some parents find its presence in children’s lives insidious, to the point of concern, and the research shows that parents are correct in this case. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that preteen children spend eight hours a day with some form of technology while adolescents spend eleven hours. Putting these numbers into perspective, children spend a third of their day with some form of technology, and for teenagers, it is close to a half. Children spend so much time connected that researchers compare this love for technology with drug addiction, and correctly so, as physiologically, psychologically, and socially the overuse of technology has been proven to affect children.
Researchers make the connection between digital pharmakeai (digital drug) and drug addiction by comparing how children respond physiologically to both drugs. The culprit, dopamine, is a neurotransmitter released in the brain when experiencing something positive. Researchers liken technological addiction to drug addiction because of the way dopamine levels rise as a person uses technology. As an individual sends a text, posts or invites on any social site, they experiences a high, much like a drug addict experiences a rush. Additionally, when brain scans are performed on both types of addicts, images of both brains are similar.
Technology addiction not only affects the child physiologically, it also affects children psychologically and socially as well. Psychologically, children can become disinterested with the world around them, and worse yet, this boredom makes them less likely to interact with the environment. This lack of interest in their own environment affects their desire to play, alone or with other children, and reduces opportunities to use their imagination, which is key in developing creativity. Socially, researchers have found that narcissism; anxiety, depression, poor academic performance, damaged relationships, and predatory online relationships are the result of extensive time spent using some form of technology.
Parents fighting this battle with their children over their addiction can intervene in various ways.
- Encouraging children to participate in sports can reduce the amount of time spent with technology.
- Helping the child discover a passion or hobby will help in not only reducing the time spent using technology, but with also building the parent-child relationship.
- More importantly, managing the child’s time to prevent the habit from interfering with other obligations, i.e. school, homework, extracurricular activities, can reduce tech time.
If the child has a serious addiction, several addiction centers, like Newport Academy, can help with their problem.
Engaging and interacting with one’s world is a vital part of human development. Children who rely on technology to fill every emotional need miss out on wonderful experiences they might have. Fortunately, parents have options when dealing with the influence and effect technology has on children, so that children can develop socially, emotionally, and psychologically.