Easy access to technology harms young children’s development

Chloe Tafur, Staff Writer

Terrific learning tool, or gateway to disordered thinking? In the hands of young children, technology could be either. (Photo by Walden Kirsch Intel Free Press, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)

Exposure to technology at a young age can be detrimental, impacting the mental health and development skills that a child can never get back.

On Tuesday U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy issued an advisory stating that excessive social media in particular is damaging mental health in children and adolescents.

But even before engaging in social media, access to tech at young ages takes children out of the real world.  According to the American Psychological Association, 53% of kids from ages 8-12 have a tablet while 24% have a smartphone. The use of devices from young ages can impact young children during crucial development ages.  Exposure at such a young age also brings along health issues, physically and mentally, making young kids and teens more likely to develop depression. Technology has taken over the way children learn and grow up.

Early exposure can harm how children develop relationships and social skills/cues. Nowadays the internet is easily accessible, but this has caused children to have more of an attachment to technology. Kids spend more time online or using the internet rather than creating bonding moments with family. This can impact the way the child may socialize as they grow older. Free time is often more focused on their screens, opposed to spending time outside and engaging in activities. National University, a network of nonprofit educational institutions, reports that the overuse of technology has proven to harm attention spans and social skills. Children using online sites to chat (for example, on games such as Roblox or Instagram) may not learn how to pick up on social cues. Mobicip, a company that helps young people build better digital habits, has proven that children continuously using technology without restraints can develop health related problems such as obesity. The company advises parents to set tech limits up until a certain age.

Although the influence of technology has its negative effects, parents may see tech as a helpful thing because it gives a better variety of ways to educate your child. Websites like Khan Academy have helpful material a child may need when struggling with homework.  According to onlinemaryville.edu, it helps children become independent learners faster than usual. Kids can develop more cognitive skills through educational sites and apps. This is a huge advancement in the 21st century. Technology can really help and shape them through the use of learning. Parents can provide their kids with appropriate information as they get older and grow more.

But do the pros of giving children technology really outweigh the cons? Although information is easy to access, the internet can reveal to children things they may not be ready to see. The Washington Stand mentions that exposure to mature content can create behavioral issues or mental issues such as anxiety or depression. These things that children see can cause them to follow bad examples involving violence, sexual content, and more. We can decrease harmful influences on children by monitoring what they watch and making sure restrictions are enforced on what they can view online.

The use of technology is also leading to children growing dependent and attached to devices. Even if there are positive things about being able to access technology, children grow to rely on these devices. Not only that, but it impacts how their brains develop at a formative time in life, and that is something that you can never change or get back. 

Exposure to technology has affected and continues to damage children’s development skills, interpersonal relationships, and health. In a world with so much advancement and technology surrounding us, it is hard to prevent a child from overusing devices but there are ways we can limit and protect kids. Checking on what your child is watching or how long they are using a device is one way you can start to make sure they are growing to their full potential.