Baby Carriage With 3 Babies In It Old Fashioned The Impact of Technology on the Developing Child

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The Impact of Technology on the Developing Child

Reminiscing about the good old days when we were growing up is a trip down memory lane worth taking when trying to understand the issues facing today’s kids. Just 20 years ago, children used to play outside all day, ride bikes, play sports and build forts. Masters of imaginary play, children of the past created their own form of play that did not require expensive equipment or parental supervision. Children of the past moved… a lot, and their sensory world was nature-based and simple. In the past, family time was often spent on chores, and children had daily expectations. The dining table was a central place where families met to eat and talk about their day, and after dinner became the center for baking, crafts and homework.

Today’s families are different. Technology’s impact on the 21st century family is fracturing its very foundations and causing a dissolution of core values ​​that long ago held families together. Juggling work, home and community life, parents now rely heavily on communication, information and transport technology to make their lives faster and more efficient. Entertainment technology (TV, Internet, video games, iPods) has evolved so rapidly that families have hardly noticed the significant impact and changes in their family structure and lifestyle. A 2010 Kaiser Foundation study found that elementary school children use an average of 8 hours of entertainment technology per day, 75% of these children have televisions in their bedrooms, and 50% of North American homes have the television on all day. Add e-mails, cell phones, Internet surfing, and chat lines, and we begin to see the pervasive aspects of technology in our home life and family environment. Gone is the dinner table conversation, replaced by the “big screen” and take out. Children now rely on technology for the majority of their play, which greatly limits challenges to their creativity and imagination, as well as limiting necessary challenges to their bodies for optimal sensory and motor development. Sedentary bodies bombarded with chaotic sensory stimulation result in delays in reaching children’s developmental milestones, with subsequent impact on basic foundational skills to achieve literacy. Wired for high speed, today’s youth enter school struggling with self-regulation and attention skills necessary for learning, and eventually become significant behavior management problems for teachers in the classroom.

So what is the impact of technology on the developing child? Children’s developing sensory and motor systems have not biologically evolved to accommodate this sedentary yet frantic and chaotic nature of today’s technology. The impact of rapidly advancing technology on the developing child has seen an increase in physical, psychological and behavioral disorders that the health and education systems are just beginning to discover, much less understand. Childhood obesity and diabetes are now national epidemics in both Canada and the United States. Diagnoses of ADHD, autism, coordination disorders, sensory processing disorders, anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders can be causally linked to technology overuse and are increasing at an alarming rate. An urgent closer look at the critical factors for reaching developmental milestones and the subsequent impact of technology on these factors will help parents, teachers and health professionals to better understand the complexity of this problem and help create effective strategies to reduce technology use. The three critical factors for healthy physical and mental development of children are movement, touch and connection to other people. Movement, touch and connection are forms of essential sensory input that are integral to the eventual development of a child’s motor and attachment systems. When movement, touch and connection are deprived, devastating consequences occur.

Young children need 3-4 hours of active rough play per day to achieve sufficient sensory stimulation of their vestibular, proprioceptive and tactile systems for normal development. The critical period for attachment development is 0-7 months, when the infant-parent bond is best facilitated by close contact with the primary parent, and plenty of eye contact. These types of sensory inputs ensure normal development of posture, bilateral coordination, optimal arousal states, and self-regulation necessary to acquire basic skills for eventual school entry. Infants with low tone, toddlers who are not reaching motor milestones, and children who are unable to pay attention or achieve basic basic literacy skills are frequent visitors to pediatric physical therapy and occupational therapy clinics. The use of safety devices such as bucket seats for infants and toddler carriers and strollers further limit movement, touch and connection, as does overuse of television and video games. Many of today’s parents perceive outdoor play to be ‘unsafe’, further limiting essential developmental components normally achieved in outdoor rough play. Dr. Ashley Montagu, who has studied the developing tactile sensory system, reports that when infants are deprived of human connection and touch, they do not thrive and many eventually die. Dr. Montagu states that touch-deprived infants develop into toddlers who exhibit excessive agitation and anxiety and may become depressed in early childhood.

As children connect more and more to technology, society experiences a disconnection from themselves, others and nature. As young children develop and form their identities, they are often unable to distinguish whether they are the “killing machine” seen on TV and in video games, or just a shy and lonely toddler who needs a friend . TV and video game addiction is causing an irreversible worldwide epidemic of mental and physical health disorders, yet we all find excuses to continue. Where 100 years ago we had to move to survive, we are now under the assumption that we need technology to survive. The catch is that technology is killing what we love most…connecting with other people. The critical period for attachment formation is 0 – 7 months of age. Attachment or connection is the formation of a primary bond between the developing infant and parent, and is an integral part of the developing child’s sense of safety and security. Healthy attachment formation results in a happy and calm child. Disruption or neglect of primary attachment results in an anxious and agitated child. Family over use of technology not only severely affects early attachment formation, but also negatively affects children’s psychological and behavioral health.

Further analysis of the impact of technology on the developing child indicates that while the vestibular, proprioceptive, tactile and attachment systems are understimulated, the visual and auditory sensory systems are in “overload”. This sensory imbalance creates enormous problems in overall neurological development as the brain’s anatomy, chemistry and pathways are permanently altered and impaired. Young children who are exposed to violence through television and video games are in a high state of adrenaline and stress as the body does not know that what they are seeing is not real. Children who overuse technology report persistent bodily sensations of general “shaking,” increased breathing and heart rate, and a general state of “restlessness.” This can best be described as a persistently hypervigilant sensory system that is still “on alert” for the oncoming assault of video game characters. While the long-term effects of this chronic stress condition in the developing child are unknown, we do know that chronic stress in adults results in a weakened immune system and a number of serious diseases and disorders. Prolonged visual fixation at a fixed distance, two-dimensional screen severely limits eye development necessary for eventual printing and reading. Consider the difference between visual placement on a variety of objects of different shape and size at near and far distances (as practiced in outdoor play), as opposed to looking at a fixed-distance luminous screen. This rapid intensity, frequency, and duration of visual and auditory stimulation results in a “hard-wiring” of the child’s sensory system for high speed, with subsequent devastating effects on a child’s ability to imagine, participate in, and focus on academic tasks. Dr. Dimitri Christakis found that every hour of TV watched daily between the ages of 0 and 7 equated to a 10% increase in attention problems at age seven.

In 2001, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement recommending that children under the age of two should not use any technology, but toddlers ages 0 to 2 average 2.2 hours of television per day. The academy further recommended that children older than two should limit use to one hour a day if they have physical, mental or behavioral problems, and a maximum of two hours a day if they do not, but parents of primary school children allow 8 hours per day. France has gone so far as to remove all “baby TV” because of the harmful effects on children’s development. How can parents continue to live in a world where they know what is bad for their children, yet do nothing to help them? It seems that today’s families have been drawn into the “Virtual Reality Dream”, where everyone believes that life is something that requires an escape. The immediate gratification received from the ongoing use of television, video games and internet technology has replaced the desire for human connection.

It is important to come together as parents, teachers and therapists to help society “wake up” to the devastating effects technology has not only on our children’s physical, psychological and behavioral health, but also on their ability to learn and maintain personal and family. relationships. While technology is a train that will constantly move forward, knowledge of its harmful effects and actions taken to balance the use of technology with exercise and family time will work towards sustaining our children, as well as saving our world. While no one can argue the benefits of advanced technology in today’s world, the connection to these devices may have resulted in a disconnection from what society should value most, children. Instead of hugging, playing, rocking and talking to children, parents are increasingly resorting to giving their children more video games, TVs in the car and the latest iPods and mobile phone devices, creating a deep and widening gulf between parents and child.

Cris Rowan, Pediatric Occupational Therapist and Child Development Expert has developed a concept called ‘Balanced Technology Management’ (BTM) where parents manage the balance of activities children need for growth and success with technology use. Rowan’s company Zone’in Programs Inc. http://www.zonein.ca has developed a ‘System of Solutions’ to address technology overuse in children through the creation of Zone’in products, workshops, training and consultation services.

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