Research shows that sitting motionless for hours contributes to weight gain, attention disorders and drops in intelligence. At work, on the train and at home people stay glued to glowing tablets, computer screens and mobile devices. How have our habits changed with the increasing dependence on smartphones? Have we taught our kids that accessing ‘’instant” stuff on the internet has more value than investing in “higher-cost” activities like leaving the apartment?
The Real Reason Why Kids Want Smartphones
After work, my dad would stop by the toy store to bring home Barbie dolls, LEGOs, and when we grew older, Settler’s of Catan. Instead of rushing home to the computer, the way I (sadly) invest my time now, he had to do the laborious task of sitting down with the family to play games. Playing a board game invited up to 6 players, and three generations would be present in one room. I would sit across my sister, dad, grandpa, and uncles, Bruno and Cedric. We spent countless summers on a dimly lit deck hovering over color-coded maps on cardboard. Multi-player computer games were fun as well, but it’s difficult to compete with a gentle shove, roaring laughter and intense moments of team strategizing. Maybe like faded jeans, it’s time to throw the old traditions away.
I like technology and how it has added a significant ‘perceived’ value in my life by enhancing my multi-tasking skills and allowing me to stay more ‘connected.’ Never have I had more friends (reaching 1,500 on Facebook), got more out of my entertainment (playing online games and viewed millions of music videos/films online), and read more (not even a dime wasted on Wikipedia, the source of all my fact-checking).
Tomorrow, children will relate more to my technology discussion than to the game board scenario, above. While I am in favor of toddlers using both hands to interact with an augmented-reality app on an iPad, I am also a huge proponent of youth athleticism and sports involvement. Because everybody knows testing smartphones against the forces of gravity proves disastrous- so until digital hardware evolves I can only imagine what it will be like to have a millennial’s childhood…
It prompts me to negatively interpret the results of a recent survey where only 12% of parents believe there are negative consequences to using computer tablets under the age of 12. The CSA institute conducted a survey of 501 French parents- the majority hoping that they are giving their children an extra advantage in becoming technologically proficient and academically prepared. 38% of the tablet owners who responded purchased apps for their children, with 66% of executives preferring educational apps. Moreover, parents of preschool children were 10% more likely to buy apps for scholastic preparation. This bodes well for ebooks, and even better for promoting the use of technology in the classroom.
Beginning at the age of 2 the child’s mind is exposed to different lifestyles, choices and also tender kisses of affection. We want to give them everything this tech generation has to offer but with that comes a greater responsibility. Instilling self-discipline and being an example might begin with slowing down smartphone/tablet usage.