How Devices Affect Children: Pros and Cons of Modern Technology

Over the past couple of decades, technology has changed the way all of us work, play, interact, and navigate our daily lives. Devices are now an essential part of our lives, and we couldn’t imagine a world without our smartphones, without social media, or without the apps we use every day. 

Some of us can still recall those faraway times when there were no smartphones, no Netflix, no Tik Tok – not even an internet connection. But our children have never experienced life without technology; they’re immersed in it from a very young age, which is why they also tend to be much more tech-savvy than the rest of us. 

While technology and devices can be extremely useful and aid in our children’s personal and academic development, there are also downsides. The Da Vinci Collaborative team ran a survey recently to see how children use devices nowadays, and how it’s affecting them. What we learned is that everything, including technology and devices, should be used in moderation. Let’s go over some of the pros and cons of devices for children, and how we can ensure our young ones make the best of available technology without any ‘side effects.’ 

Pro #1: Ease of access

Clearly, the number one advantage of using technology and devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops is accessibility. Children and adults can access information anytime, anywhere, as long as they have an internet connection. There are no limits or restrictions, which makes technology an incredibly useful and handy tool for research and finding information. 

Pro #2: Continuing education

We’ve witnessed firsthand the many benefits of technology during the pandemic. As our children were stuck at home during lockdowns, technology and the internet allowed them to continue their education by attending online classes, doing their homework, chatting to teachers and tutors, and more. Without apps like Zoom, Skype, and various online education platforms, we couldn’t have done that, and our children’s academic progress would have suffered greatly. 

Pro #3: Crucial life and career skills

Knowing your way around technology and devices is nowadays a crucial life skill. Not being tech savvy in this digital age can harm both one’s personal and professional life. Our children are growing up with devices and technology, which gives them an immediate advantage that will come in handy when they will pursue an academic degree or a career. So, as parents, we should not look down on devices and instead allow our children to explore digital venues – who knows, your child might turn their passion for devices into a successful career as a programmer, or they could become, as they say, the next Steve Jobs!

Pro #4: Communication

Another big advantage of technology is that it allows us to communicate with each other, no matter where we are. Children can use devices to keep in touch with friends, teachers, tutors, and relatives who live in different cities or countries. There is no downplaying this incredible benefit, and especially during lockdown, children were able to keep in touch with their friends with the use of devices. 

Pro #5: Safety and security

This next advantage of devices for children is often overlooked, but it is incredibly important in this day and age. Think about it, a smartphone can become a location tracking device if the situation calls for it. Parents can keep tabs on their children, calling or texting them to make sure they are safe going to school or outside and coming home safely. Most devices track location using GPS satellites, so in case a child gets lost or an unfortunate situation happens, they can be found quickly. Children can also send out alerts or emergency calls in case something happens, which can be comforting and reassuring to them and their parents. 

Con #1: Physical problems

Of course, there are also downsides of technology when it comes to our children, and they appear mostly with overuse. Our recent survey showed that using devices for several hours a day can lead to physical problems in children, such as headaches, eye problems, back and neck pain, pain in fingers and wrists, sleep issues, and more. A good way to avoid such problems is to set a limit to how many hours your child can use devices on a daily basis, and encourage them to use different forms of entertainment, like going outside, playing with other children, exercising, reading, and so on. 

Con #2: Mental health issues

Unfortunately, using devices and especially social media platforms can also sometimes lead to mental health issues. Young children and teenagers are the most affected, and they can develop issues like anxiety, depression, feeling ‘less than’ by comparing themselves with other people, eating disorders, and more. ‘Doomscrolling’ can also lead to anxiety and high negativity as children find their news feeds flooded with bad news. It’s important to set a daily limit when it comes to devices and certain websites, and take note of any changes in your child’s behavior and mental state. 

Con #3: Isolation and face-to-face interaction

While devices can help us stay connected while we’re apart, and interact with people in different countries or continents, they can also lead to isolation. The more time children spend on devices and social media, the less time they have to interact with friends and family in person. They can become isolated from people and the world around them, which in turn can hurt their social skills and their adaptability skills, leading to mental health issues. It’s always good to encourage your child to go outside and play with other children without their smartphones or devices, and make sure you plan family activities on a regular basis. 

Con #4: Internet bullies and cybersecurity 

Unfortunately, the internet can also sometimes be a dangerous place. Just like in the real world, the digital realm can also house not-so-good people. Children, in particular, are susceptible to scammers, bullies, and cyberattacks, because they don’t know the tell-tale signs that someone is not what they seem. This is where parents can step in and install security and antivirus apps, and use parental controls to limit access to certain features and websites, and even monitor their child’s online activity if needed. 

Con #5: Devices can become addictive 

A few years ago, people didn’t really take internet addiction seriously, but nowadays, it’s become a very real problem. It’s scientifically proven now that scrolling on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, or Tik Tok can become addictive, especially for children and teenagers, who tend to use these platforms a lot more than older adults. But this doesn’t mean that parents should take the ‘cold turkey’ approach and cut children off completely from devices. Instead, try setting daily limits and encourage your child to embrace other activities, like sports, reading, hiking, playing, or anything else that they enjoy doing. 

If you suspect your child might be struggling with mental or physical issues caused by the use of technology and devices, reach out to the Da Vinci Collaborative team and let’s see how to help your child overcome these issues together.

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