The Digital Revolution took place in the 1950’s. The mass production of digital logic circuits led to the computer, digital cellular phone and the internet.
In today's world we use technology every day. We use it for work, school, hobbies, learning, entertainment, sports, socializing, cooking and more.
Technology is rapidly developing as the years go by and more people are using it., and this is causing some startling effects of technology on children
In 2011 my older sister didn't use as much technology in year 12 than I currently use in year 9.
She carried textbooks to school, researched in libraries and handwritten her essays. Whereas I carry a MacBook to school, research online and type on documents.
Should we go back to old habits? What does screens do to children's health?
Activities done in front of a screen is considered screen time.
There are four types:
- Interactive - Playing games, drawing, calling someone
- Not interactive - Watching TV
- Educational - Doing homework online
- Recreational - Playing game
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How much screen time is too much?
Be sure to take frequent breaks when using technology for long periods of time.
Non stop usage of electronics can have serious effects on adult’s and children's physical, mental and social well being.
Effects of screen time of a child's vision
Computers can causes eye problems, this is known as Computer Vision Syndrome. Eyes react to different images so that our brain can process what we’re seeing. Which is why our eyes focus and refocus all the time when using computers.
Symptoms of CVS include:
- Blurred vision
- Neck or back pain
- Double vision
- Eye irritation
- Dryness and redness
When we read up close and focus on objects our eyes can become more short-sighted. In 2012 around 14.4 million children under the age of 18 in the U.S wear glasses. About 3.9 million children under 18 in the U.S wear contact lenses.
To prevent your child from needing glasses teach them the 20 20 20 rule. This is where you must look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.
It is predicted that by 2050, 50% of the entire population will need glasses because of screens.
Internet addiction is associated with functional and structural changes in the brain.
- Loss of planning, prioritising, organising and impulse control
- Loss of empathy, compassion and ability to read emotions
- Loss of communication in the brain
- Less efficient information processing, sensitivity to rewards, insensitivity to loss and abnormal spontaneous brain activity
- Dopamine is released when gaming, this is similar to drug addiction
- Delays talking and spelling development
Effects of excessive screen time on physical well being
Of course if you’re on a computer all day you will be sitting down not breaking a sweat.
Games and TV encourages children to eat junk food, have a lot of snacks and drink sugary drinks.
Sitting down for a long period of time makes children lazy and unmotivated. This prevents children from getting outside to exercise or socialise. An inactive lifestyle can lead to obesity. Enrol your child in a sport or exercise with them one hour per day to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Looking down at tablets can also cause neck and back pain. This disrupts sleep, comfort and school performance. Make sure your child’s eyes are on the same level of the tablet to create a good posture.
To prevent problems with your child’s health, set ground rules on the amount of screen time they’re exposed to.
- Children under 18 months should avoid screen time
- Children aged 18 months to 2 years can watch and play educational programs with their parents
- Children aged 2-5 years have one hour of screen time per day
- Children 6 years and older no more than 2 hours per day
Encourage your child to play board games, exercise, go out with friends or read a book.
Make sure not to put a TV in your child's room, this will give them another reason not to leave their bedroom. At night take their phones or laptops so that they can sleep well.
Most importantly, set a time limit on how long they can watch TV or play games.
Is there good screen time?
There can be good screen time, technology can be used for educational purposes. Although apps and games are sometimes not good they can be used as an educational tool:
- Minecraft = Building skills, creativity
- Nancy Drew = Problem solving skills, critical thinking
- Scrabble = New words, spelling
- SimCity = City planning, environmental impact
It can develop imagination, thinking skills, reflexes, problem solving skills, teach kids lessons in life and make them aware of the things going in the world.
Student at Lilydale College
Davies M, 2015, Average person now spend more time on their phone and laptop than SLEEPING, study claims, Daily Mail, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2989952/How-technology-taking-lives-spend-time-phones-laptops-SLEEPING.html
No author, 2017, Switch off the Screen, Healthy Kids, https://www.healthykids.nsw.gov.au/kids-teens/switch-off-the-screen.aspx
Robinson J, 2015, What is computer vision syndrome?, Web MD, http://www.webmd.com/eye-health/computer-vision-syndrome#1-2
No author, 2012, New Report: Kids’ X Parents = 25% of Children Using Vision Correction, Vision Monday, http://www.visionmonday.com/article/new-report-kids-x-parents-25-of-children-using-vision-correction/
McGoogan C, 2016, Half the planet will need glasses by 2050 because of screens, The Technology, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/02/22/half-the-planet-will-need-glasses-by-2050-because-of-screens/
Orlando J, 2016, Screen time, Raising Children, http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/screen_time.html
Dunckley V, 2014, Gray Matters: Too much screen time damages brain, Psychology Today, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mental-wealth/201402/gray-matters-too-much-screen-time-damages-the-brain