The Technology Age
Gadgets have shaped the way we do everything from communicating to seeing the world and can only serve to make a child’s life better. How much technology is too much to raise your child around?
Electronics are now everywhere from your family’s desktop to the tablet you use on vacation. Your son’s laptop and even your daughter’s cell phone. There are all sorts of educational benefits to letting a child use a computer, but there are also serious risks to consider.
An Open Book
Your child has the advantages that no generation before them did. The world is literally like an open book for them.
While just 100 years ago children would listen to stories and dream up what a certain country looked like, you can now show them just what that thing looks like. So they no longer have to wonder what the jungles of Africa or the Dead Sea look like. They never have to pretend to know what the Great Wall of China looks like. There is no more mystery behind Paris, France or whether Iceland is really covered in ice. Your children have the answer to just about any question they can ask at their fingertips. The world is theirs to explore digitally and then plan to explore physically in the future. This is the greatest gift to give them, if you can teach them how to use it to their best advantage.
Adult Content Exposure
You do what you can to keep your kids safe, this includes keeping them away from adult content. Granted, your kids will be safe from adult content if you put a good protection program and use parental controls but what about everything else?
Just because it is not labelled 'adult' does not mean that your child should be exposed to it. Some of the things you kids may find while simply browsing Google images is appalling. This is a very real risk that your child will face every day they use different technologies. Even browsing through Facebook can sometimes lead you to inappropriate photos or conversations. Then there is the risk of text messages, emails and instant messaging which can result in very graphic or potentially dangerous situations. Make sure to establish clear rules with your children about their browsing and texting habits. Do not just try to enforce the rules, but also explain them in a way that makes it easy for your kid to understand.
With the whole world of information at your fingertips, who has to remember anything? People used to pride themselves on being walking encyclopedias but with Wikipedia and Google only seconds away, who needs to remember information for themselves anymore?
If you find your child is having trouble remembering things, it could be a sign that their development is being hindered in some way. The time spent on gadgets may be to blame. Try to limit the use of gadgets for a while and see if the problem improves. You could also try to limit the use to one gadget at a time. Talk to your kids about the things they have researched online to help them retain the information.
With computers and gadgets readily available, who even needs to know how to write anymore? People used to spend hours practicing their handwriting and their signatures, today you can just find a nice font and go with it.
Okay, we know you are probably wondering if this is really a risk, but within the decade, this seemingly silly idea could become a real issue. Seriously, compare your handwriting skills today to what they were a few years ago. Chances are, they have not improved on bit. In fact, they have probably gotten much worse. Some schools have even stopped teaching cursive as it is no longer a necessary form of communication. The fact that we have to have handwriting challenges via Tumblr should give some indication of this growing concern...
It seems that everything that can be used for good can be used to bad as well. The gadgets created to make our lives easier can also serve to make them miserable.
Problems like cyber bullying are becoming a real issue. It is not uncommon to hear about a student who injured themselves (or worse) after the humiliation caused by something posted online. Back in the day, you used to worry about getting shoved in a locker by the school bully, but this coming generation seems to be taking it to the next level.
Remember back in the day when you wanted to make a friend? You would have to actually go talk to them and get to know them a little bit before inviting them to hang out. This is not the case anymore with the technology age in full effect.
For preteens and teenagers between middle school and college age, making “friends” is as simple as adding them on Facebook or following their photos on Instagram. Instead of establishing and investing in real, close-knit relationships where there is mutual respect and interest, this way of connecting online encourages observation much more than involvement. Before, you would have to ask about and remember details about your friends such as favorite movies, their birthday and other intimate details that only loved ones would know. Today, it has become general information that you could know just by looking over their social media profiles. It creates the illusion of intimacy even if the two do not know one another very well.
This is, of course, the most important thing to consider when thinking about technology and children. You need to keep your children safe in their everyday lives AND their internet lives.
Ignorance is the biggest risk of safety when dealing with technology. You may hear the stories of children who have been kidnapped but think it could never happen to yours. Do not be so sure because no matter who your kid is, the risk is still there as long they are not being protected. Take the necessary steps to use the parental settings on all of the gadgets your kids will be using. If you have given a child a cell phone for emergency use, you may also look into a parental app so you can track where they are or talk to your service provider to see what they have available to safeguard your children.