Gadgets are indeed one of the most intriguing technologies ever invented in the world. Along with the rise of the digital era, it is almost impossible to see any household without at least one gadget. Our lives are somewhat dependent on these technologies, not only for communication, but for other day-to-day activities as well.
Despite the modern advancement these technologies have brought us, they also bring some impacts and consequences towards us, especially on children.
Gadgets and children
For most children growing up in this era, they were raised around technologies, especially smartphones. Since they were born, gadgets are always around them, from parents capturing pictures of them with smartphones, watching cartoons from a television, playing games on a tablet, seeing their mothers working with a laptop and so on.
Not to mention when Covid-19 strikes us, almost all education industries have conducted online teaching and learning. This adds more to the usage of gadgets in their daily life. With all these needs and consumption of gadgets, it is not surprising that gadgets have become a big part of children’s lives.
Benefits of gadgets on children development
Based on studies, the use of gadgets can bring benefits and positive impacts on children’s development (Srinahyanti et al., 2019).
1. Improve cognitive skills
Cognitive abilities include the ability to process information, remember, reason, and relate objects to one another. These abilities are closely related to memory and language. With gadgets, there are numerous interactive applications, educational games and various kinds of helpful applications that challenge and improve children’s cognitive skills. It is a substitute for the traditional puzzles, board games and books that help develop children’s cognitive skills.
2. Improve motor skills
The ability to control movement through the coordination of the nervous system and are associated with muscles such as hands, fingers, lips and tongue is referred to as motor skill. Children are indirectly exercising when they use gadgets since they are using and constantly moving their fingers and hands. This results in better understanding on how to use and coordinate their hands and fingers more effectively and quickly. Fine motor skill is also regarded as an important factor in the development of cognitive abilities in early childhood.
3. Increase knowledge
Almost everything can be found on the Internet. With proper usage, countless new useful information and knowledge can be gained. Furthermore, while using gadgets, children can learn through the pictures, videos, numbers and colors they see.
4. Enhance competitiveness
A child will understand winning and losing when playing games. This activity can drive them to struggle and exert effort and be more enthusiastic and motivated to achieve their goals.
Negative impacts of gadgets on children
When you find your child is having a hard time to stop using gadgets, even when they do not necessarily need to use them, this may be a sign of addiction. Using gadgets at an excessive amount of time can lead to addiction. This addiction develops as a result of the excitement of using gadgets that makes them want to use it more and more. They feel happy when they use gadgets. This stimulates the brain to produce excessive amounts of dopamine, a chemical released by the brain that makes us feel pleasure. It can be gaming addiction, social media addiction or even online gambling addiction.
2. Delay in speech and language
Early childhood is the sensitive learning period for children. This is the period where children develop their language and speech skills. They learn these by having interactions while playing with other children at school, reading books, or simply by having normal daily conversations with parents. But if they spend a very long time and devote their energy playing with gadgets, instead of utilizing their sensitive-learning period by playing outside, how can they develop their speech and language skills?
A child with a language delay may be able to pronounce words correctly, but they struggle to understand spoken language. Meanwhile, a child who has a speech delay may use words and phrases to convey concepts, but they may be difficult to understand.
3. Lack of interest in education
Gadgets may cause children to become lazy and lack interest in studying. They like the pleasurable feeling of playing games instead of learning at school. Neglecting their education will cause them to have long-term struggles later in the future. For example, they may have problems seeking jobs due to the education requirements.
This also may due to a condition called ADHD or "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder" which often happens to children with gadgets addiction. It refers to issues such as attention deficit, excessive activity, or difficulty in restraining inappropriate behavior. Children may become fidgety, unable to focus, restless, and easily distracted as a result of this. This shift in behavior can lead to issues at school or at home.
4. Health issue
Children who prefer playing with gadgets will definitely have less time to do other physical activities such as playing outside and some of them may also have improper meals and sleeping habits. Research has shown that these habits can lead to many other consequences and health complications. For example, obesity and cardiovascular disease.
Besides, staring at a screen for a long time can cause physical fatigue, eye strain, wrist pain (Carpal Tunnel syndrome), headaches and back and neck ache which can also cause bad body posture.
5. Social incapability
As a result of being addicted to gadgets, children have more tendency to be detached from their surroundings and focus on their gadgets, than to have a real social interaction with family or friends. This can cause children to have problems socializing with other people, or in other words, they are being ‘anti-social’. The worrying part is that this may persist until they reach adulthood. Their self-confidence and social ability weaken as a result of their lack of exposure to genuine and real interaction.
Ideal screen time for children at early age
The ideal screen time for children in their early childhood is 5-30 minutes at a moderate intensity of 1-2 times per day.
What to do if your child is obsessed with gadgets?
Nevertheless, gadgets have their pros and cons towards children but, the best way to prevent gadgets addiction in children is by not giving them access to gadgets at an early age. Early childhood period should be utilized as a learning development phase, and part of growth process. Fill in your child’s growth years with activities that can be beneficial for their future. Instead of gadgets, discover their other hobbies or talents that you can nurture from now until they become the best at that!
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