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Toddlers and Tablets


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Visualize you’re in the year 2028, two little tikes buckled in the car seats in the back. They’re noisy and you just want to get through the car ride home. Little Charlie starts fighting with his sister. Do you A: ignore it B: yell back or C: give them some piece of technology to keep them distracted? Well frankly C is already the common answer and in 2028 it’ll be the natural way. One in eleven children ages 8-18 years are addicted to technology (Gentile 2009). This could cause an increase of obesity and developmental problems. So, why is all of this important?
Parents have chosen technology as the easy way out of parenting in a particular situation instead of disciplining the child. 58% of parents have admitted to letting the technology “babysit” or keep the child occupied. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com) Why is this a problem? For starters children are not learning how to become independent and do things on their own, and also not learning important behavior skills. Being stuck to an iPad stunts learning to just a screen. Being exposed to textures and objects outside the iPad is important for preparing a child for the real world. Early brain development is determined by environmental stimuli. When the stimulation of a developing brain is exposed to too much technology it has been shown to lead to attention deficit, cognitive delays, impaired learning, and decreased ability to self-regulate among other problems. Being exposed to the outdoors and exercise also plays a crucial role in development. Movement sparks attention and learning ability, while using excessive amounts of technology is detrimental to child development. One in three children start school with delayed development. (http://www.edutopia.org) When the brain prunes neuronal tracks in the frontal cortex of the brain it can cause decreased memory and concentration, these are vital things you need to learn in a school setting. (http://www.npr.org)
Aside from the fact that using tablets for babysitting and developmental opportunities can be harmful for a child’s brain, it is also physically a problem. Health wise, exercise is very important for a child’s developmental years. Being stuck to a screen as young child is harmful for future weight issues. America is no doubt rated as the “Fattest Country”. We have an epidemic of obesity rising all the time and children starting at a young age on an I-pad is not helping decrease the issue. 31.8% of children and adolescents are overweight or obese; 16.9% are obese. Children should not start in the world in this way. Finding something they are good at, outside of technology, is crucial for skill making and for life. Children should be exposed to the outdoors and learning about animals and colors from where it really comes from, not a lit up screen. (kids react to rotary phones video)
I babysit three children from time to time. The very first time I babysat, all they did was watch movies and TV. I tried to tear their eyes away to play Barbie’s or a board game, but the TV was more interesting. The 12 year old boy is either yelling at the TV over the NFL or his pretend NFL team on the Wii. He is young and should be playing sports outside or reading. Well I don’t read either so I can’t say that… Anyway, the parents try to put limits on their technology use because of the excessive amounts they usually participate in. I’ve heard stories of a child’s first word being momma, dadda, and iPad. (www.psychologytoday.com) Another story was of a young child holding a magazine and trying to unlock it as if it was an iPad. If that’s our future, I don’t want to raise a child in it. Also I’ve seen “Britain’s youngest iPad addict” who was maybe 4. If this isn’t a reason for a call to action I don’t know what is.
While I believe technology is bad for a developing child, there are some benefits in this ever changing world. Technology is the way of the world and no doubt part of our future. It’s inevitable. It is good for kids to get integrated with technology because many jobs are going to be so involved with computers and programming. Many jobs are being replaced with robots nowadays, so being ahead of the curve isn’t always a negative thing. Children just don’t need to be addicted to a screen and missing out on the important growth and development opportunities.
I love holding a real book, going to buy things in a real store, and being active outside the house without the presence of technology. Books are going to be obsolete, everything will be delivered to your door, and you’ll never have to go outside again. Our next generation is going to be missing out on the childhood we and our parents had. I loved those color and texture books and arts and crafts but everything is so digitalized now, simple things won’t exist. So what am I saying should happen? Limit uses on technology for growing children and not a way to occupy your children, teach them behavioral and people skills. Be a responsible parent and expose your child to all aspects of this world.



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