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    Technology’s Effect on Child Development

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    Children’s technology usage is a major issue, especially in the current time period known as the Digital Age. For example, this next generation of kids was born into a world where technology is an integral part of everyday life, and unlike their parents and grandparents, they have not experienced anything else. These children do not know about a typewriter or rotary phone or even a cell phone when it was kept in a bag and had no camera or internet connection. Furthermore, human interaction will not go away just because technology is improving and becoming more prominent. Therefore, children must continue to develop social skills and interact with people face to face. Parents need to help their children understand the balance between technology-related activities and active off-screen hobbies. Additionally, it is important kids be taught from a young age to limit their screen time in order to avoid addiction and learn to live their lives without an unhealthy attachment to their devices. Some people claim that children’s technology usage should not be censored because they will not be prepared for the harsh reality of the real world due to having lived in a censored world. Others argue that children need to develop a healthy relationship with technology in order to form positive habits before they are exposed to certain types of content. Parents need to restrict the duration and content of their developing children’s screen time to help them foster important relationships, preserve their physical and mental well-being, and to cultivate normal social behavior from a young age.

    One of the reasons parents need to control the content on their children’s television shows is that failing to do so will begin to negatively affect their child’s ability to forge healthy relationships. For example, if a child sees an unhealthy relationship portrayed on television, they will begin behaving in the same manner with family and friends, putting a strain on important relationships in their lives. Moreover, if a parent does not watch the show with their child and explain that this content does not portray a positive behavioral model, the child will not be able to come to this conclusion on their own. As a result, the child will have trouble distinguishing appropriate social interactions from inappropriate ones. Content must be restricted and regulated beginning from a young age to help children form healthy and long-lasting relationships with technology as well as with their family and friends. It is a parent’s job to facilitate this in order to raise healthy kids that can maintain positive and beneficial relationships through proper social behavior without the burden technology poses. In Chapter 12 of “Media Exposure During Infancy and Early Childhood: The Effects of Content and Context on Learning and Development,” Claire Lerner claims that without proper parental regulations on content and duration, technology has negative effects. She proves this claim by quoting studies done about children watching appropriate content for their age group as well as having discussions with their parents after the television show to connect the virtual world to the child’s real world. These kids’ behavior and social skills are better than those who do not watch age appropriate content or follow up with discussions about that content with their parents. Lerner argues that without a discussion connecting children to the real world or regulation of content in the first place, the child loses touch with what is reality and what is a virtual-reality made up on their shows. For example, in the above-cited article, Lerner analyzes the research of Daniel Anderson and Katherine Hanson, who make their claims in the previous chapter. Anderson and Hanson claim that when the content is directed more toward the kid, the kid will pay more attention. Likewise, if the program is directed more toward the parent, the parent will pay more attention. If content is directed toward the parent and the kid is present, this runs the risk of prematurely exposing children to things they are not mentally prepared for. However, if content is both educational and age-appropriate, it can be beneficial for the child and parent to co-view the program. If the parent is actively engaged, then they can answer their child’s question and improve their comprehension. Anderson and Hanson state that, “content that is specifically designed to foster high-quality parent-child interactions can have a positive impact on the quality of parenting and parent-child relationships” (198). This being said, it is up to the parents whether technology will have a positive or negative benefit on their child’s relationships with others. It is the parent’s job to stay present while their child is watching television to help educate them on proper behavior and values and to instill empathetic tendencies starting from a young age.

    An equally important reason parents should be regulating their child’s screen time is to avoid serious health issues that result from prolonged technology usage. For instance, when children spend more time on devices rather than exercising, it slows down their development and affects both their mental and physical health. Additionally, young children need to learn to develop visual and motor skills by playing outside and exercising rather than using a device for an extended period of time. In fact, this overexposure to technology hinders the child’s development and ability to complete fundamental tasks. For example, in “Negative Effects of Technology on Children of Today,” Yasser Alghamdi states that children are learning to use devices before they can even tie their shoes. If children are not limited in the time they spend on technology, they will begin to choose their devices over physical activity and health problems such as obesity and anxiety will arise. Moreover, if developing children are introduced to technology too early they will not develop skills essential to living a normal life such as social and fine motor skills. Alghamdi raises this issue to enforce that parents must “limit the amount of time a child uses his or her screen device and instead engage in activities that enhance the child’s overall physical and mental well-being” (3-4). Furthermore, this article displays the integral role parents play in ensuring the health of their children by regulating their electronics.

    Similarly, in “Catherine Steiner-Adair: How Technology Affects Child Development,” Catherine Steiner-Adair begins by saying that by texting rather than talking in person, two important elements of human communication are lost. The first loss is the inability to see the impact your words have on the other person’s facial and body language, as well as losing the ability to use your own body language to convey feelings words simply cannot. The other loss is the disadvantage which comes about when a person can’t listen and respond with comprehension to the other individual. When texting, it is nearly impossible to tell when one finishes texting their thought and passes the ‘conversation’ back, but in person you can simply read this from their facial expressions. When children choose technology over human interaction, they lose fundamental social skills such as empathy and an ability to read social cues, resulting in a decline in conversational capabilities. Steiner-Adair supports this claim with research in Asia where there are over three hundred therapy programs for five to eighteen-year olds who have an addiction to technology. She highlights that kids who are addicted to technology do not know how to calm themselves down and also do not realize that being bored is okay and looking out the window during a car ride instead of being glued to a screen is not a bad thing. She goes on to state that kids who are addicted to screens are less patient, interrupt more and also cannot self-decompress. These kids are reliant on a device helping them succeed and are unable to be creative within themselves. To reiterate, it is the parent’s job to make sure their child does not form an addiction by monitoring their screen time from the start to avoid long-lasting issues.

    Furthermore, Steiner-Adair says that, “[technology] will answer all your kid’s questions, [but] it will not answer your kid’s questions with your values” (AVENUESdotORG). She uses the example of a child asking a parent for help defining a word, but when the parent is not available, the child looks up the word on the Internet. She brings up the point that technology will answer a question no matter what because it does not know the age of the child, does not know how to answer a question with the parent’s values, and does not desire to love and protect the child like a parent does. It is important to avoid long lasting technology exposure to prevent addiction and also to monitor content to restrict it to be age-appropriate and model healthy relationships. Likewise, in “The Impact of Computer Use on Children’s and Adolescents’ Development,” Kaveri Subrahmanyam et al. claims that “increased availability of information over the Internet contributes to violent behavior” (26). She supports this claim by saying, “information about building bombs is freely available on the Internet,” (26) then goes as far as to give a website link with detailed instructions.

    Similar to Steiner-Adair and Subrahmanyam’s viewpoints, in “Children and Computers: New Technology. Old Concerns,” Ellen Wartella and Nancy Jennings, write about the great promise as well as great concerns associated with media use on the effects of child development. An important observation highlighted by Wartella and Jennings is that, “new media might be used to substitute for real life in learning ethical principles, undermining children’s morality and causing them to engage in illicit sexual and criminal behavior” (32). Both of these author’s further the point of children losing their morals and ethics by overusing technology. The one thing artificial intelligence cannot portray is emotion, and that is what makes humans who they are. When children are raised dependent on technology it results in them growing up with loose morals and their behavior begins to worsen as they reach adulthood. Consequently, they have higher rates of criminal behavior due to technology essentially rotting their brains when they were younger.

    Additionally, the effect of inappropriate content coupled with prolonged usage will affect children’s behavior, causing irreversible damage that will follow them into adulthood if not monitored by their parents from the start. For example, television programs have different ratings based on the appropriateness of the content, because ratings help parents determine if it is okay for their child to watch, if they need to watch with their child, and what content their child will be exposed to by watching the program. Furthermore, parents play an integral role and are the primary facilitator of the content their children are being exposed to. Prolonged screen time in developing children will result in an addiction to and dependency on technology. If technology is censored from a young age and children have the ability to learn to use technology in healthy increments, the likelihood of addiction decreases significantly as well as outbursts associated with taking children’s devices away. When children become addicted to screens and have been exposed to violent content, they believe this behavior is okay to exhibit in the real world and begin to lash out when their devices are threatened to be taken away.

    Similarly, in “Psychological Processes Promoting the Relation Between Exposure to Media Violence and Aggressive Behavior by the Viewer,” Rowell Huesmann writes about the relationship between increased exposure to media violence and increased aggressive behavior. Huesmann claims that the effect of media violence begins in childhood, causing irreversible damage by adulthood. He continues to discuss the impact early childhood television habits have on criminality in adults. He also stresses the importance of regulating content in children’s television shows. He states that, “repeated exposures to emotionally activating media or video games can lead to habituation of certain natural emotional reactions.” (para. 14). As a result, when children get addicted to computer games with exposure to violence, it desensitizes them to these heinous events in the real world. Violent games and programs create a false reality that people killing other people for no reason is a normal and acceptable thing. In “Determining the Effects of Technology on Children,” Kristina Hatch mentions Sherry Turkle, a PhD at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who says that technology is neither good nor bad, but simply powerful. This holds true when analyzing both the positive and negative effects of technology. If used in moderation with proper content regulations, technology can be powerful in positively shaping these children’s young minds. On the contrary, if children spend too much time on devices without regulations, their behavior as well as their health will be severely affected by the power of technology.

    Moreover, the need for children to unplug and experience the real world is crucial, especially in the Digital Age. In “The Blank-Stare Slate,” Patricia Greenfield quotes a study that says, “tweens who spent five days at an outdoor camp, unplugged and media-free, were better able to understand emotions than their peers who stayed home and continued their usual media diet” (para. 4). If children continue to stay trapped within their media bubble and never take a break, they will lose any ability to empathize and act like a human being. At this point it begins to raise a question of what is the difference between these media-addicted “blank-stare” children and emotionless robots?

    As a result of all of the negative effects associated with prolonged technology usage due to a lack of parental regulation in terms of content and duration, the solution seems clear. Parents need to be involved in their child’s lives in terms of their technology usage. They must monitor their child’s screen time to assure their children’s mental and physical well-being, behavior, and relationships are being healthily developed. It is not enough to set time controls, but parents must actually watch the television programs with their children to enhance their learning. It is important they teach children to realize technology is a privilege not a right, even in this day and age children need to learn to entertain themselves without a screen. Without regulation of content, children will be exposed to certain content too early in life and it will hinder their development. This is important because these children are the future of our nation and if not raised with censorship to properly develop, one will see issues when this generation takes prominent positions of authority.

    Work Cited

    1. Alghamdi, Yasser. “Negative Effects of Technology on Children of Today.” Researchgate, Mar. 2016, Pp.1-13.
    2. AVENUESdotORG. YouTube, 1 June 2016,
    3. Greenfield, Patricia M. “The Blank-Stare Slate.” Newsweek Global, Sept. 2014. Pp. 50-51.
    4. Hatch, Kristina. “Determining the Effects of Technology on Children.” University of Rhode Island, 2011, Pp. 3-40.
    5. Huesmann, L. Rowell. “Psychological Processes Promoting the Relation Between Exposure to Media Violence and Aggressive Behavior by the Viewer.” Journal of Social Issues, 14 Apr. 2010,
    6. Lerner, Claire. “Context Matters: How Co-using Screen Media Impacts Young Children — Commentary on Chapter 11.” Media Exposure During Infancy and Early Childhood: The Effects of Content and Context on Learning and Development, edited by Rachel Barr and Deborah Nichols Linebarger, Springer, 2016, pp. 195-203.
    7. Wartella, Ellen A., and Nancy Jennings. “Children and Computers: New Technology. Old Concerns.” The Future of Children, Princeton University, 1 Oct. 2000, Pp. 31-43.
    8. Subrahmanyam, Kaveri, et al. “The Impact of Computer Use on Children’s and Adolescents’ Development.” Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 9 May 2001,

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