January 26, 2016
This is Your Child's Brain: This is Your Child's Brain on Technology
Technology is a fact of life in today"s world. Computers and electronics can make life easier and more enjoyable. However, using technology does demand care, especially for children. It's impossible to shield children from all use of technology. The simple fact is that kids must learn how to use it to function in the world. Parents must navigate these issues to decide how offspring will use technology, considering various pros and cons that will affect the role of technology in children"s lives.
As parents weigh advantages and disadvantages of technology, one consideration is the impact it has on development. Some research is suggesting that children"s use of technology can have a positive effect on brain development. Enhanced cognitive skills are among the many effects noted in children who play video games or use other forms of technology. Games and apps can be interactive and educational, teaching skills and facts to even very young children. Technology can also be helpful for helping to build fine motor skills such as hand and finger dexterity.
Digital eye strain often occurs when people spend significant time on digital devices. Symptoms of digital eye strain include irritated and dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches, eye fatigue, and pain in the neck and back. Using a computer or other electronics for hours requires the eyes to focus on the electronic screen. Children can have an increased risk of developing eye issues due to their immature eyes. To avoid problems, parents should monitor and limit electronics usage. Some physicians recommend that every 20 minutes, a child should take a 20-second break from a screen to enable the eyes to focus elsewhere.
Media violence is prevalent in today"s society. With television, video games, and personal computers, children have ample access to various forms of violence on the digital screen. While passively watching violence on a small or large screen can be extremely negative, video games might carry an even greater risk. When playing a violent video game, the character often performs violent acts. A child engaging in this type of violent entertainment may be more likely to have problems with anger and aggression. Parents should utilize filtering technology to block children"s access to violent media. Rating systems can enable parents to choose suitable content for children. Internet filters and technology such as the V-chip can make it impossible for children to access violence on television.
People who spend time playing video games develop an enhanced ability to multitask. Games typically present myriad challenges to the gamer, making it necessary to think quickly and decisively. Some research has suggested that people who play video games are better drivers, often because they have faster reaction times. Playing video games may also enhance hand-eye coordination. The brain develops the ability to process information quickly while coordinating actions with the hands at the same time. A gamer"s enhanced hand-eye coordination can increase video game performance as well as performance in real-life situations. The combination of fast reaction times and strong hand-eye coordination can have advantages for someone of any age, children included.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes the prevalence of technology and media in today"s society. Accordingly, the AAP has made recommendations for children regarding the use of technology. The AAP advises that children and teenagers should not spend more than two hours each day using electronic screens of any kind, including televisions, computers, and mobile devices. Additionally, the AAP recommends that children less than 2 years of age should not use entertainment media at all. When children do use technology, parents should ensure that the content is educational and of high quality. When families create media-free zones in the home, it becomes easier to choose different activities such as reading or playing games. Playing outdoors is another beneficial activity for youngsters.