The Intervention Of Technology And Child Development
The advent of technology into the domestic sphere is an exorable reality of the 21st century. Almost every home today is a veritable hub of gadgets and appliances, and children are exposed to these from a very young age. The techno-trilogy of Television, Telephones and Internet has transformed the experience of childhood to a very great extent; the question is, what significance does this hold vis-a-vis the prerogatives of child development?
Child therapists and educational experts are divided upon the issue of ceaseless technological interventions in daily life and how they affect children’s health, psyche and upbringing. While some are extremely disapproving of the impact modern gadgetry has upon the growing child, others extol the value it adds to the experience of learning and mental mobilization.
It is an undeniable fact that these oppositional perspectives, both sides of the proverbial coin, are etched with reasonable argumentation. The denigrators of technology call upon a wealth of qualitative research that reiterates how it undermines holistic development of children. And the statistics are certainly convincing; the Kaiser Foundation Report 2010 establishes that elementary-aged children invest an average of 7.5 hours using entertainment technology every day. Over 60% of children claim that their parents do not pose limits upon access to TVs, video games, movies, internal or cell-phones. So, if a child spends some 6 hours at school, 7.5 hours toying with his gadgets and 8 hours sleeping, where is the time for studying, physical exercise and interaction with family? One gets the point these denigrators are making.
The supporters of technology take a different approach in studying the impact of technology of a developing mind. They claim that exposure to technology changes the thought patterns and mental capacity of young minds, shaping them in a way different from previous generations. Screen media improve the child’s visual-spatial capabilities, hone attentional ability and optimize reaction times. Social media helps children learn how to scan and filter information quickly and efficiently. In times to come, these skills are to become increasingly valuable in professional domains. And television watching may also be an informative and educative pursuit, as long as what children watch is monitored. One cannot refute the merit in this argument either.
This leads us to an impasse of sorts. How does one assess the impact of technology on a child’s development?
There are no absolute answers to such questions. What’ll help instead is a critical consideration of what can be done to assimilate technology into children’s life in a positive manner. Because the fact of the matter is that an absolute separation of children from modern technology in neither possible, nor beneficial. Instead, the site of contestation – the domestic space – needs be re-evaluated and re-visioned to provide growing children with a balanced environment. Parents need to be more actively involved in overseeing their kids’ activities and perhaps then one will be able to determine exactly how guilty technology is in causing detriments to desirable child development. Instead of assessing the impact of technology, assessing the quality of guardianship children are subject to, may perhaps be more fruitful and constructive an exercise.