The digital age of innocence

Whether you wholeheartedly embrace progress or are mistrustful of the trappings of modernity, the technological wheel will inevitably continue to turn. From gadgets to gaming, as adults, we barely think twice before reaching for one of our different digital devices.

Most of us would be lost without the tools of technology which help to make life’s myriad daily commitments more manageable. From business to networking, personal banking to researching the cheapest gas tariff, modern technology champions connectivity and facilitates multitasking.

However, the impact of modern technology on society is much-debated and often much-maligned, particularly so when the far-reaching effects can compromise our children’s safety and personal development.

Children and technology – striking the right balance

When children and technology are combined, there’s a tendency to err towards caution. Yet is it always inappropriate to introduce children to the most cutting edge tools for teaching and entertainment? We see kids at school using iPads to learn, however the benefit of this is contested and it begs the question of whether such constant immersion is harming traditional social development. As with most aspects of modern life, moderation may be the key.

The decision to indulge a child’s desire for the digital age may pose a dilemma for many parents. Yet the provision of a mobile phone, for example, can provide invaluable peace of mind. For busy parents, the ability to stay connected to their children will relieve a little of the parental worry and pressure. Yet, this may prove cold comfort, particularly where easy access to inappropriate content is concerned.

The television has traditionally provided a little respite for many parents, offering some easy entertainment to facilitate the unencumbered completion of an essential chore. Television however, is a passive medium, unlike touch screen technology which requires active participation. Playing on an iPad stimulates the brain and evokes an emotional response to deliberate actions and decision-making.

While enjoyable, overuse of active media may result in the real world being considered too mundane to children. Technology has also been said to prevent the “thinking brain” from being fully developed, reducing a child’s ability to think creatively. Leaving a child to play online unchecked for vast stretches of time is a considerably different kettle of fish to supervised participation. Left to their own technological devices, children can become consumed by the electronic world, preferring reinforcement from computer screens rather than the personal interaction of life offline. Technology in moderation is enjoyable and beneficial to children, but parental control is crucial.

Children need plenty of opportunity to interact in the real world. Communication with parents and peers is essential for building strong social skills. Likewise, a child’s brain needs time to be calm. Over-activity and excessive stimulation, induced by the use of digital devices should always be balanced by alternative activities, such as creative play and independent thinking.

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