The Advance-Titan

Electronics power down kids’ minds

Electronic devices are everywhere. They’re in every household, practically every room and everyone is learning to use them because they feel they need to.

Grandparents FaceTime with their grandkids; couples in long distance relationships talk on the phone or send Snapchats to check in with each other daily. Employers and employees send countless emails back and forth every day, and teenagers play video games with one another after school. But how young is too young for people to be using this technology?

With the availability and proximity of all these electronics, kids are becoming acquainted with them sooner and sooner.

Parents give their kids tablets, game devices or smartphones on road trips and to keep them quiet when they’re in a waiting room. They keep the kids entertained, but is this the right thing to do?

Kids have always been given distractions to hold their attention so adults can focus on other things, so this is no new feat, but is it the best way to do it with these new devices?

Many videos have made their way onto YouTube and Facebook that show kids swiping and sliding their fingers on toys or magazines, expecting them to work like an iPad or iPhone. Sure, we scroll through them and laugh for a second, throw the video a thumbs up and scroll on our merry way, but there’s just something scary and sad about that.

It seems every kid nowadays is running around with a smartphone or playing on a computer or other electronic device.

Simon Jary’s article, “How much screen time is healthy for children?” from Tech Advisor talks about results from a study done in the UK about children’s use of electronics.

The study found that “38 percent of 2 to 5-year-olds own an Android tablet and 32 percent own an iPad; almost a third (32 percent) of these kids also have a mobile phone.”

I, for one, didn’t have a cell phone until I was 13 years old.

Now, this is a different scenario due to the fact technology has developed a lot since then, but is it okay for these kids to be spending this much time with these devices? No.

Kids used to spend every second of their free time running around outside with their friends, living in creative fantasy worlds together. They’d use their imaginations to fight monsters or rule over kingdoms together from sunup to sundown.

Jary’s article also pointed out that kids have been, “Spending on average around 17 hours a week in front of a screen–almost double the 8.8 weekly hours spent playing outside.”

It may be a bit too early to claim long-term health effects from screen time, but experts are speaking out about their feelings on increased screen time for kids.

Aric Sigman, who has a degree in psychology, a master’s in neurophysiological basis of behavior and a Ph.D. in autonomic nervous system self-regulation, was quoted in Jary’s article saying he is unsettled and concerned for the youth in regards to the time they spend with their faces buried in screens.

“Until we know better, I advise precaution,” Sigman said. “Keep technology and screens away from the under threes, and set limits on all ages after that.”

Every child is different, but the constant time on such devices and impending addiction to screen time is being linked with psychological and educational effects.

Electronic devices are being used all over the globe to serve countless different purposes, some of which are far from bad.

Educational use of computers for learning and homework is a great thing, but this use isn’t what is alarming to Sigman.

Jary’s article states that what really concerns Sigman is, “[That] their screen time in non-educational environments in front of entertainment screen media such as television, the internet and computer games. He has some strong recommendations for reducing children’s screen time, from toddlers to teenagers–and adults, too.”

It’s a scary world to think about where everyone is spending their day with their nose in a screen, but that’s becoming a reality. People are spending less of their time communicating through real face-to-face conversation, than ever before and that’s a sad truth.

We as a society are becoming consumed by all these new devices and we can’t let it continue like this.

Technology is not all evil, of course, but people need to find a way to maintain control. They need to be able to turn their screens off and spend time with one another, in the real world.

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Independent Student Newspaper of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Electronics power down kids’ minds