Save The Child Technology, something that today’s generation cannot live without, and from start to the end of the day, children are surrounded by it. Technology gave birth to a digital world. No matter how hard we try, it is almost impossible to apart children from this digital world. Everyone from the age of two years old to a teenager has some type of electronic device in their hands. Since children are exposed to digital media almost everywhere, it influences children’s lives in many ways such as their social skills, learning abilities, and behavior. However, there are many interactive video games and applications on smartphones that can help children learn hand and eye coordination, help them improve intellectual skills, and problem-solving skills. There are pros and cons to everything, and technology is no exception. Kids are the most vulnerable beings when it comes to using technology. Children of all ages spend more time watching television, playing video games, and using social media apps.
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This limits them from face-to-face interaction and physical activities. It can be very easy to distract a child with a phone or TV, while the parents do their daily activities. If technology is not used wisely, it can harm the kid’s mental and physical health. Some of the issues involving longer screen time include sleep deprivation, depression, cyberbullying, lower grades in school, the risk of obesity, and interference with family time. Setting the limits on screen time and having ground rules on the use of electronic devices can be very beneficial to children’s health. Some of the ways to limit the screen time include not placing a TV in the child’s room, keeping the TV off during mealtime and study time, limiting the video-game playing time to one hour a day, and choosing an alternative to digital games such as board games or reading a book.
The main reason parents should limit children’s screen time is that it can help their physical health, mental health and improve academically. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “teens who watch more than 5 hours of TV per day are 5 times more likely to be overweight than teens who watch 0 to 2 hours”. Choosing outdoor sports as an alternative to TV can improve children’s physical health. There are many types of serious health problems that follow a sedentary lifestyle, such as obesity, increased belly fat, and a higher risk of insulin resistance leading to type 2 diabetes. In addition, children are exposed to food advertisements which affect their choice of food.
The majority of advertisements of the food and restaurants are not having healthy options for children. Less physical activity can also impact a child’s muscle development and brain development. In order to set limitations on watching TV, firstly, parents should not put the TV in the child’s bedroom. Secondly, they should set the limits on time, when the child can watch TV or play video games. Moreover, parents should not allow their children to watch TV during mealtime, which can drive attention away from important family time and it may cause over-eating. Parents should help the child to pick a TV show or a movie based on its content, so that way parents are aware of what the kids are watching.
Parents should encourage their children to play intellectual games and outdoor activities with their friends. In addition to physical health, there are many mental health issues that have risen in children due to the overuse of technology. Several types of research have shown that there is a positive correlation between the use of electronic devices and mental disorders in children. Many children suffer from disorders such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. Nikken, Peter, and Marjon Schools describe “nearly 75% of teenagers own a smartphone and almost 76% of teens use at least one social media site” (342). Children use social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat to seek support and approval in form of likes and comments. When they can not get validation from fellow members, it adds to their anxiety and depression. It can also impact negatively their self-esteem and can cause aggressive behavior. Children should be taught healthy media use to avoid negative effects.
Same as the TV usage, parents should also set limits on the usage of smartphones, and iPad, or tablets. Parents should create a media-free zone at home, such as a dining room; therefore, kids can engage in family conversations. Parents can unplug the internet after a certain time at night, which can reduce screen time during bedtime, and ultimately, kids can get better sleep. Parents should download software on children’s devices that can only allow kids-friendly websites to open to eliminate or reduce exposure to inappropriate content. Kids should be taught about online threats and cyberbullying and how to steer clear of those threats.
Parents should make their kids aware that they respect their privacy to gain trust. Parents should know their children’s likes and dislikes, know their friends online, the sites they like to use, and the apps they are using on the smartphone. They should make sure that children understand the benefits of limited screen time. Teens who spend less time on the internet and social media are more likely to have “real-life relationships,” and spend more quality time with their friends and family, which can promote healthy behavior and improve social skills in children (Nikken et al. 350). As digital media has become a part of the young generation’s life, it becomes very important for parents to ensure that children are safe when using it.
Parents may find it easier to be a chaperon at playground or high school compared to kids’ digital media platforms. One thing parents must keep in mind is that it is important to set parental guidelines in the virtual world as well as the real world. Cyberbullying can have the same negative impact on children’s mental health as “real-life” bullying. Stalkers, predators, and sex offenders use online chat rooms, social media sites, and websites to exploit children. Parents should not put their guards down even when children are safe in their own homes.
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