Technology use by young children: good or bad?

Today’s technological age affecting children as young as two

In today’s world, technology is dominating the lives of young children, leading to the question of whether this is good or bad. The 21st century is defined by major technological innovations that children as young as two are using on a day-to-day basis. When children are ready to begin school, 70 percent of them are able to use a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Seventeen percent of children under three already own a smartphone or tablet, according to the article How young is too young for technology?

I believe that in such an increasingly diverse and digital world, young children need to immerse themselves with this technology, but at a moderate pace that does not sacrifice their social and emotional development. Emma Asprey, who is a senior lecturer in Primary PGCE at Bath Spa University, discussed the positive nature of young children and their use of technology. “I definitely think that technology is a very positive thing in a classroom and I don’t think it replaces any aspect of learning, it just adds to the rich resources that are available; but it needs to be used in the right way.”

According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, children under the age of two should be discouraged from using technology and preschool children should not be watching television or interacting with digital devices for more than two hours a day. A major reason for arguments against young children overusing technology is because of their brain development. From the time a child is born to when they are three there is an 80 percent brain growth, meaning that extra exposure to television or digital devices leads to the child’s behavior and social skills to be affected into adulthood. According to Baroness Greenfield, professor of pharmacology at Oxford University, what results from extended technology usage in young children is a sharp decline in physical human contact and basic social skills and emotional reactions.

Asprey, mentioned above, argues against this, saying that these new technologies allow children to communicate in a more effective manner and think independently for themselves. A majority of educational professionals, according to Asprey, view the use of technology by young children to be a real benefit as long as it is used correctly in a limited manner.

From the article Are iPads and tablets bad for young children?, there is one example of four preschoolers sitting together in a brightly lit nursery room listening to their teacher while she reads them a story from her iPad. This room, which belongs to the Snapdragons chain, was the first in the United Kingdom to offer iPads to children when these devices first launched in April 2010.While the children listen to their teacher, they show that they are engaged and willing to learn.

According to various experts mentioned in this article, young children who use tablets and other devices in a limited manner are able to enhance their learning at impressive rates. Rosie Flewitt, who belongs to the Institute of Education at the University of London, says that to deny children access to tablets is to “risk having one section of society that is growing up with skills and one section that is growing up without.” She concluded by saying,”Children have been born into a world where these things exist.” Since children have grown up with these things, they should be able to adapt and use these devices in an effective manner.

Bruce Perry, M.D., Ph.D., works as a research professor of child psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine and as the chief of psychiatry at Texas Children’s Hospital. The magazine “Early Childhood Today” interviewed Dr. Perry about the effects of technology on children and their brains. He emphasized that television nowadays is very passive. When a child sits in front of a television for hours, they are losing critical emotional, social, cognitive and physical experiences that allow them to grow and mature.

Perry continued by saying that when children use computers they are natural “manipulators” of their environment, learning to interact with the system in front of them. Children have control over computers, unlike when they watch television, in which they are passive participants. A major scare for parents and multimedia developers involves how to keep young children from accessing inappropriate content on web sites or television shows.

According to the article Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America 2013, 66 percent of children under the age of two have watched television, while 38 percent have used a smartphone, tablet, or similar device to play games, watch videos, or engage in other similar activities. Two years ago, 10 percent of children in the same age group were using these same devices. This shows how rapidly society is changing in an ever evolving world.

When I was little, television was one of the main entertainments I had. But now, more young children are beginning to experiment with other technological devices outside of television. I disagree with this change, since there are reports that young children are receiving therapy because of their addiction and outright obsession with these devices. Their use of these items is fine as long as it is contained, which can be difficult when that individual wants more and more of that particular device.