Technology vs Child Development
By Ahmad Amirali
Do we ever wonder why majority kids, in western and eastern countries, under 10 to 13 years of age do not like to read books or having trouble engaging in the reading habit? Why some parents, most of the time, keep complaining that their children hate books and prefer to spend time on the internet instead to read some book or article. Is technology ruining your child development? Or is there an understanding gap between the mindset of parents and their children?
I still remember my good old school days when I used to play outside all day long during my weekends, riding bikes, playing sports and building forts in the garden. I lived my childhood with full of imaginary games and art that didn’t require costly equipment or parental supervision. Even in schools’ teachers plan classroom tasks and activities that require reading books, newspapers and articles. The only thing that replaces everything in today’s student life, from books to riding bike, is the use and over-dependence on technology.
Technology, since two decades, brought many delights in our lives, making it more virtually convenient and easy. However, these delights also brought some severe repercussions that negatively impacted the child’s social and behavioural development. Today, majority schools, work, home and parents now rely vastly on information communication technology (ICT) resources to make their lives faster and more efficient. Tech-gears (Ipads, cellular devices etc.) has advanced so rapidly, that families have hardly noticed the substantial impact and changes to their family structure and lifestyles. Amidst them are teenagers (10 to 13 years) whose lives are becoming more prone to these technological advancements. These tech-gears make children at this level more sedentary when they get home from school or find any free time for themselves. These habits discourage children from going outside and involving any physical activity with other children of their age. According to WHO, ‘In 2016, the global number of overweight children between 5 to 19 years, is estimated to be over 340 million. The prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents aged 5-19 has risen dramatically from just 4% in 1975 to just over 18% in 2016. The rise has occurred similarly among both boys and girls: in 2016 18% of girls and 19% of boys were overweight. Almost half of all overweight children lived in Asia and one quarter lived in Africa.’ Source: WHO.
One of the fundamental causes of these figures, according to WHO, is the increase in sedentary nature among children due to, changing modes of lifestyle and increasing urbanisation (more emphasis on technology). According to Zone’in Programs Inc.2012, the use of tech-gears impact not only the child’s sensory (visual and auditory) system but also affect child social and behavioural development.
According to one study, children who use tech-gears more often may develop health deteriorating signs like; body shaking, increase in heartbeat and breath and general uneasiness. However, nature always provides remedies to every problem, even to these human-made ones. To achieve child health development, four critical factors should be taken into account. These are movement, touch, human connection, and exposure to nature. According to Zone’in Programs Inc. 2012, Young children between age 10 to 16 years require 2-3 hours of active physical and tumble play outside a home in the fields to achieve stimulation in their vestibular, proprioceptive and tactile systems.
This isn’t to say that children should not engage in any technology-driven activity or technology is bad. The purposeful use of technology provides positive results that help children to grow, learn and socialise. However, overuse or over-rely on it may bring damaging results in both child’s social and behavioural development.