Technology has become a critical aspect of the lives of children and adolescents. Children encounter technology every day: television, video games, mobile phones, television, and computers. Psychologists have research to find out whether technology is harmful or beneficial to the optimal development of children. The results of these studies have revealed that technology has varied effects on children with regard to physical, social, and mental development. In this paper, I will argue that technology has negative effects on children, and therefore, their exposure should be regulated and closely monitored. Despite the many benefits that technology provides, it can negatively affect the social and psychological wellbeing of children. Technology has negative effects on the social, psychological, and physical wellbeing of children because it compromises cognitive development, affects socialization, enhances desensitization, and predisposes them to obesity and diabetes.
Compromised Cognitive Development
Research has shown that technology affects children’s optimal cognitive development. Studies have been conducted to study the effects of technology on child development, and they have shown that heavy technology use changes how the brains of children function (Rowan, 2013). For instance, too much hypertext and multimedia content affect concentration and comprehension abilities (Taylor, 2012). In addition, it increases susceptibility to depression and diminishes long-term memory (Clinton & Steyer, 2012). Technology also teaches children to multitask: text while listening to music, browse the internet while watching television, and listen to music while playing video games. This multitasking is dangerous to the development of concentration capabilities. Excessive digital immersion affects the congruence of children’s thought processes, such as linear thinking and memory.
The majority of human cognitive skills are developed during the formative years of child development. Prolonged exposure to technology encourages the development of mental conditions, such as anxiety, depression, paranoia, and narcissism (Taylor, 2012). Researchers have shown that children who play violent video games are more likely to become depressed and anxious than children who do not. Aggressiveness, antisocial behavior, and increased substance among children are some of the negative effects of technology (Clinton & Steyer, 2012). Moreover, impulsiveness and moodiness are also the effects of technology on children.
The effects of technology on the brain include susceptibility to environmental influences such as addictions. Studies have shown that the plasticity of the child’s brain is more affected by technology than the brain of an adult, which is less plastic. For instance, playing video games stimulates the release of a hormone known as dopamine that makes children more susceptible to addiction (Rowan, 2013). Technology also affects the executive functioning of the brain. For instance, abilities such as planning, prioritizing, organizing, and controlling impulses weaken because of technology’s effect on the frontal lobe (Rowan, 2013). The frontal lobe is an area of the brain that is responsible for executive functioning and cognition.
Technology has rendered the process of socialization almost obsolete because making friends is as easy as registering an account on one of the numerous social media platforms. Children have become less social because they have little time for face-to-face interaction. This has led t the development of weak socialization and communication skills, which is detrimental to their social development. According to Clinton and Steyer (2012), “the fact is, by middle school, our kids today are spending more time with media than with their parents or teachers, and the challenges are vast.” As a result, children who fail to develop skills are necessary for forming friendships, control emotions, and develop compassion (Rowan, 2013). Instead of children expanding their brains through the use of technology, they are using it to stall their progress with regard to communication. Technology has become a way of life and not a tool to improve communication effectiveness.
One of the skills that are affected by excess exposure to technology is the ability to recognize and use nonverbal communication. Body language is an important component of effective communication because most emotions are not expressed through words but nonverbal cues (Bergen, Davis, & Abbitt, 2015). Children are more dependent on technology for communication than human interaction (Taylor, 2012). Social media websites have replaced human connection with conversation and shortchanging themselves in the process. In the digital age, face-to-face interaction has become less important because children can hold conversations using technology (Haq & Cullingford, 2012). The danger of this approach to communication is that children miss the development of skills such as negotiation, reading emotions, and handling confrontations. The human need to seek human connection has been replaced by technological alternatives that offer fast and virtual interactions (Williams, 2013). Proponents of technology use among children argue that children use technology to supplement their online relationships. Though this argument might be partly true, they should realize that exposing children to technology at a very young age affects their social development, and the effects are carried to adulthood.
Increased Aggressiveness and Violent Behavior
Technology contributes considerably to the development of violent behaviors ad aggressiveness among children. These behaviors originate from exposure to violent video games, television shows, films, and internet content. Psychologists concur that children develop beliefs and social norms based on the content of their experiences. In that regard, any violent content has the potential to influence the beliefs and behavior of children (Williams, 2013). Studies have established a relationship between violent video games and the development of violent tendencies among children. There are numerous causes of aggressive behavior among children, such as violent environments, drug use and abuse, and poor school performance. Despite the influence of these factors, the role played by technology should not be overlooked. Children spend a lot of time using technological gadgets and, therefore, learn a lot from the content they consume.
Desensitization is one of the negative effects of heavy exposure to violent content on media platforms. School violence is one of the adverse effects of desensitization, which leads to the loss of empathy in children (Clinton & Steyer, 2012). Technological advancements have led to an increase in cases of bullying among children. Bullying has evolved from schoolyards to online media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter (Haq & Cullingford, 2012). Children attack their peers by sending defamatory or scathing messages that aimed at causing harm. Technology has made it difficult for schools and parents to prevent bullying because children can do it anonymously using technology. Parents and teachers should not allow children to become desensitized to human suffering because if they do then school violence will increase and children will always feel unsafe.
Technology encourages children to adopt sedentary lifestyles that predispose them to the development of conditions such as obesity and diabetes. Children who spend a lot of time playing video games, browsing the internet, and watching television are at higher risks of obesity and insomnia that children who spend little time on those activities. Sedentary lifestyles limit the amount of physical activity that children engage in, thus increasing the risk of obesity and diabetes. This fact is augmented by Rowan (2013), who states that “child obesity and diabetes are now national epidemics in both Canada and the U.S., causally related to technology overuse.”
Cases of mental illnesses such as ADHD, autism, learning difficulties, coordination disorder, sleep disorders, and sensory processing disorder are on the rise due to the excessive exposure and use of technology among children (Rowan, 2013). These conditions can be reduced by limiting the amount of time that children spend using technology. Psychologists have shown that the four most important factors necessary for optimal child development are touch, movement, interaction with nature, and human connection (Rowan, 2013). Sensory inputs from these factors help children to develop bilateral coordination, posture, and self-regulation. Children require at least 2-3 hours of play in order to achieve optimal physical development. Excessive use of technology denies them this opportunity, and as a result, compromises their proper development.
Technology has become more than a tool to make life easier; it a way of life and a tool that people cannot live without. Psychologists and educators have debated the issue of technology and children for many years. Both have agreed that technology has both positive and negative effects on children, especially to their development. Despite the many benefits of technology, it negative effects on children, which necessitate limitations to their exposure to television, video games, and the internet. Technology affects children’s optimal cognitive development, desensitizes them to human suffering, predisposes them to obesity and diabetes, and makes them antisocial. It is important for parents and teachers to monitor the usage of technology among children in order to prevent its negative effects on their development and wellbeing.
Bergen, D., Davis, D. R., & Abbitt, J. T. (2015). Technology play and brain development: Infancy to adolescence and future implications. New York, NY: Routledge.
Clinton, C., & Steyer, J. P. (2012). Is the internet hurting children? CNN. Web.
Haq, N., & Cullingford, C. (2012). Computers, schools and students: The effects of technology. New York, NY: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.
Rowan, C. (2013). The impact of technology on the developing child. Huffington Post. Web.
Taylor, J. 92012). How technology is changing the way children think and focus. Psychology Today. Web.
Williams, R. (2013). Little boys learn a lot from watching ‘star wars’ and it isn’t all good. Upworthy. Web.