Kids and Gadgets - The Dilemma6:44 PM
We've heard the funniest and the most disturbing stories about the supposed effects of gadgets on children. We've seen it on our children, our children's friends, and the children of our friends and family. But somehow, in spite of knowing better, we give in and find ourselves in a dilemma.
The Age Factor
It is quite common nowadays to see very young children lagging their gadgets along wherever they go. For those who are too young to carry it themselves, a parent or a caretaker will most probably do it for them. The gadget is like an accessory which the child needs to be with him constantly.
Children as young as 2 to 7 years are being given their own tablets intended for educational play or some sort of handheld video game. Older children are being given the privilege of having their own laptop and cellphone or interactive games mimicking sports activities. The market appears to have just the right gadget for children at any age with the common proposition that such gadgets will keep them entertained while providing education and communication when necessary.
The Common Scenario
The joke that tells of a mother having to call or text his son through the cellphone just to ask him to get out of his bedroom to have dinner when they are in the very same house speaks of more truths than any other serious story. We have become so dependent on technology that we are forsaking even the most basic human social interaction within our family. We can almost anticipate the continuation of the story to be that of the son texting back through the phone as well. We can push that story further into ridiculous proportions by imagining mother and son eating their dinner and still communicating with each other through text even while already facing each other.
Children seem to retreat to their own world once they have their gadgets. A whole day can come and go without them realizing that they have not done anything else but play or interact with the gadget. Parents for their part can be guilty at times of allowing this to happen for the sake of having their kids preoccupied while they attend to other matters.
Are Gadgets the Enemy?
This is not necessarily so with the exception of gadgets that directly teach and encourage children to be anti-social or to commit bad behavior, if there is such a thing. Technology is not the enemy but it is the behavior we allow ourselves to adopt because of the availability of such technology that leads us to the problem. When technology becomes a substitute for parenting, then there is no way to go but down.
Children need to understand that there is a time for everything. There will be a time for play, for interaction, and to be alone. Computers and other gadgets have their place in a child's life bit it should be nowhere be near the center or the sole focus of his life.
The children born from year 2000 and up are said to constitute the so-called Generation C for Connected. These are the children who have and are having the most exposure in manners related to gaming and social network technology. These are the children who are usually connected online, taking an active part in a world where even the adults sometimes flounder.
I read in one article about a study conducted in the UK that says in effect that about one third of parents actually regret giving gadgets to their children. It goes on to say that these parents were mainly concerned about the effects of gadgets on their children's patience, creative, and social skills. Another interesting point in the same study is that two thirds of the total number of parents asked, blame the gadgets for the reduced amount of family quality time.
This study though not conducted in a widespread level still makes a fair representation of the actual scenario happening in households all over the world. My take here is that the problem has been identified which is too much gadget time is bad for children. What parents and children need to find is the solution.
That solution lies in parents putting their foot down to instill limitations. There is no need for quibbles and quarrels especially if an agreement has been reached before such gadget was purchased. There is more problem to be tackled with children who have already gotten accustomed to unlimited use of gadgets. This is where parenting will have to find its way to succeed.
There is no shortcut, just consistent parenting guidance and attention that will provide other options to children to make better use of their time. Gadgets are very entertaining, that is a fact but believe me when I say that there is life beyond gadgets, especially for our children who are in the development stage.