Three Shocking Facts About the Affect of Technology on Children

Tyler iphone wizardCan you tell me what is unusual about this picture of my grandson, Tyler? He was three when this picture was taken.

There is nothing unusual about the fact that he is playing on my cell phone. At this age he was capable of changing most of my settings, which is way more than I was capable of.

There is nothing unusual about the trance like look on his face.  That is often the look of children engrossed in some kind of internet activity. Read on to find out what is unusual.

He is actually looking at me. Occasionally you can find all six of my grandchildren buried in technology, unaware of anything or anyone around them. The older children will sometimes be engaging in two or three kinds of activities at once. Listening to music, playing a video game and texting all at the same time. Multitasking.

Is this a harmless form of babysitting or is something more sinister happening. Dr Joshua Straub in a recent post entitled “Is technology harmful to my kids” reveals that:

Children ages 12 to 18 spend nearly two hours a day texting alone.

8 to 10 year olds, average almost 8 hours a day.

Those ages 11 to 18 spend more than 11 hours per day.

Dr Straub suggests,  “the relational and psychological effects of these numbers on our kids are mind numbing (pun intended):

  • Our kids are getting dumber:
  • Our kids are becoming more self-centered:
  • Our kids care less about others:

The American Academy of Pediatrics (these are the neuroscience researchers studying the brains of our offspring) now suggest our kids (and this includes teenagers) limit screen time to a maximum of two hours a day apart from homework.

What do you think?

We are seriously thinking of making our home a “Tech Free Zone” when the grandchildren are here. The greatest problem is that we will have to put down our own computers and phones and actually interact with them!

Question: Has technology affected your ability to communicate with your children or grandchildren? Your comments are always read and greatly valued. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Read Dr Straub’s entire post here 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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21 thoughts on “Three Shocking Facts About the Affect of Technology on Children

  1. We are using materials from Dr. Tim Elmore for parents about this same topic at our church “Artificial Maturity”. Related topic and very good information.

  2. My unsaved sister and I were just discussing that fact. We find it rude for people to pull out their cell phones (or other tech equipment) at a family get together. My brother-in-law said “I really can’t remember a family get together (with our side) that we didn’t have something going like games (board/table), puzzles, or crafts in the making while laughing and joking.” It really is sad. We homeschool and we are so not plugged in. We farm and the joys of living on a farm and being outside 95% of the day are well worth it. I think we are definitely creating a generation(s) that will have so many relationship problems that we can’t comprehend.

  3. We already do this for the most part! We have ONE computer and ONE nook- the nook is my husband’s and NOT for game use (at least on a regular basis- though it is rare, we sometimes play angry birds). My husband and I have cell phones, but the flip kind- not the ones with the big touch screens. The kids do not have cell phones, nor do they have any consoles, or hand held gaming devices. When friends come to visit, I make the kids leave their devices with me.
    Of course there are times I find my husband on his nook at the table or in bed as we settle for the night, and I have NO problem telling him to shut the thing off and pay attention. I can’t tell you how disturbing it is to see a group of friends having lunch and ALL of them are on their devices- and I’m not talking about just teens and young adults either.
    Even one of our pastors and deacons are using the devices when someone is doing communion (or letting their kids play games), and the kids scream bloody murder if the games are taken- so they give them back. To toddlers. Toddlers who apparently have more say than their parents do in how the world is going to be run. *shudder*

    We are having a Christmas Open House (where our invited guests can visit during a large block of time during one day) and if I see anyone texting, I’ll be the first to politely ask them to not do so while visiting (not chatting ones anyway). Letting people know that you want to enjoy their company and not watch them text usually makes them stop what they’re doing.
    I couldn’t agree with you more, Ken! I just wish there was a better way to pass this word around other than using said devices that are causing my rant! 😉

      • Oh, I’m not saying they have no value, but we humans tend to put too much value on them. I use my cell a lot, and I use the PC for fun and at-home work, but it is a tool, not where I want my kids main attentions to be. 🙂

  4. I just told someone a few days ago that I was afraid by the year 2020, or before, people will have forgotten how to write a letter and actually talk to each other. I do think it is desensitizing everyone to others feelings because the tech stuff has no feelings. I have seen evidence of the feelings that it can cause because someone misunderstood something — and it isn’t pretty

    • If a communication has any anger, dialog or feeling attached to it, it should be done by phone or face to face. It is far to easy to misread tech. You it the nail on the head Janet. Thank you

  5. I think Dr. Straub may be right. My son has 6 kids -12 years to 4 months old. They are smart, kind, and godly kids. But, they also don’t have a phone or any social media. (They can get one phone at 16, which they will all share, and the dad will control the account. The oldest who will be 13 soon, will get to get a Facebook account, but her parents will set it up and only they will have the password. If anyone wants to be her friend, they will have to be friends with both Dad and Mom.)
    I am sure you will agree they are smart. When they are in the car-which is a lot- the kids want to listen to either Veggie Tales or Ken Davis CDs. The 12 year old boy quotes the Ken Davis CDs as they play- but still wants to hear them. Smart wonderful kids.

  6. Well said, Ken! I sometimes feel like the only parent setting strict guidelines. Our children have 30 minutes computer/digital time and about the same TV–unless it’s a football game or movie. And they do not get a cell phone until they are 16 and have a safety need for it with driving (it’s killing my youngest [12-year-old] as he is the ONLY one without one 🙂 ).

    I’m trying to teach our children to control their technology use, not have it control them.

  7. We are the grandparents speaking here. I (MeMa) gave up my cell phone and I don’t answer the landline unless it is somebody I need to talk to. Just because it is ringing does not mean I need to pick it up. The computer is seldom on when the grandkids are here. I think I will consider making this a tech free zone from their stuff when they are here. I have threatened but need to follow through that when they are at my house adults and kids alike for a family gathering there are no phones, smart or dumb being used instead of face to face conversation. You have hit a really sore spot for me. I hate where we are as a culture.

  8. To make our home a tech-free zone when the grandchildren are here would be extremely difficult. We ourselves spend far too much time in front of the TV and computers. (no smartphones yet) , but I can certainly see the benefits of doing so and will be discussing such a change with my lovely wife. We have invited my daughter and her family to join us for vacation in northern Minnesota again this Summer. Grandma and I have been discussing bringing along a lock box to hold the I-pods and tablets, until such times (bound to happen on a week-long lake vacation) as would be appropriate. (weather…etc…) We already see far too much “electronic stupor”, and it bothers us a great deal. We would talk this over with the parents, of course, but their dad being a dedicated gamer doesn’t help the situation. Grandma and I are willing to do what ever it takes to fill their time, in, if not productive, at least a healthful manner. We just feel that there is far too much to enjoy in God’s world for our little ones to be so engrossed in a small screen with often dubious content. Any ideas on how to approach daughter and son-in-law so as not to offend, yet make the point hit home?

  9. Parents are at fault for this as much as the world. A lot of excuses have been made so children have these devices. The sad part is we don’t want to be parents full time and we think they are safer with them, when in reality we have became very rude and disrespectful of others. The real scary part is what are they going to be as a parent with there children? There is also the physical part which is that we are raising lazy and children in poor health. I love technology and I hate it, it is so miss used at times like a school program kids are setting together and text on their phones or playing a game why did they come. I think it is sad to have to tell a group of people “please turn your cell phones off” it is no different if I would invite you to my home and watch tv and leave you set in another room by yourself. We need to be parents and grandparents and that takes your time and attention. I think it is so sad when I see kids that have fancier phones then there parents, and they don’t even know what that cost and thing are getting shut off at there homes.

  10. There are benefits to using technology for children. The trick is to learn with your children and make how and why to use the tech a discussion point.
    Below was copied from the web and is a counterpoint to the article above. There are always 2 sides.

    Phys.org)—Children need access to technology if they want to succeed in the 21st century with so many of the world’s transactions done over the internet, says Massey Professor Mark Brown.
    This time of year parents flock to stationery stores to purchase items required for the school year, and some will be asked to buy a laptop, tablet or smart device for their child.
    This may seem like a lot of money to spend on a child, but Professor Brown, director of Massey’s National Centre for Teaching and Learning, says it is an investment in their future.

    He says purchasing a computer or tablet is important for developing your child’s technology skills for future employment.

    “In less than a decade people have become accustomed to downloading their music from the web, reading electronic books from Kindle and iPad-like devices, and accessing the latest news and events through online sources,” he says.

    “If our children are to take full advantage of the potential benefits offered by new forms of digital learning, then access to appropriate technology is essential.”

    A recent parliamentary inquiry into digital learning recommended that all children and teachers have appropriate access to technology.

    “We have a responsibility to address the growing problem of digital exclusion. Learning through technology is one way of ensuring that we develop a more inclusive society where children develop appropriate 21st century skills.”

    He says both parents and teachers play an important role in ensuring children make the most of the technology available. “It’s important to acknowledge that digital technology does not replace the best of conventional learning that occurs in the classroom or at home.

    “The benefits of technology depends on the way children, parents and teachers choose to use it to enhance learning. When used well for educational purposes, the latest technology can help create opportunities for more active and meaningful learning experiences.”

    However it doesn’t mean everyone in a household needs their own device.

    “It’s unrealistic to think that all parents and caregivers can afford the cost of the latest iPad-like device. There are benefits of sharing a common device as rich conversations can take place around the technology.

    “However, there are times when you need some type of computing device to complete a piece of individual work. This is why parents and teachers are important in ensuring the best and most equitable use of the technology.”

    He says parents concerned about their children using social networks such as Facebook need to appreciate the role technology now plays in supporting friendships and encourage their children to include them in their network.

    “Learning is inherently a social activity and rather than trying to ban children from joining such networks and playing online games where they collaborate with other players from around the world, we need to educate them, and many adults, on appropriate usage.

    “Digital literacy is here to stay and if we are serious about taking advantage of the potential benefits of digital learning then we need to appropriately resource our schools and teachers.”

  11. Hey Ken,

    A great reminder.

    Our kids are 12 & 13 and we have written screen guidelines that we have all agreed to and signed. If they choose not to abide by those guidelines, they lose the privilege. But even with that, it’s a constant battle to remind and “measure”. Right now we have them logging, with an app, all the time they spend on their phone – even if it’s just a quick text, or as I say, “if your finger touches the home button, you log it.” That serves 2 purposes, 1) to minimize texting (it’s a pain to log for a simple “Yes, I’ll call later” text) and 2) to help them realize just how much time they really do spend.

    For us this is really a question of “Who we want our children to become?”. Only after we answer that question can we decide how to structure the gift of time and help them arrive at the right destination.

    Merry Christmas my friend!

  12. I do neuro therapy with children on a daily basis. When our grandson is with us who is 3yrs. old he always wants to play on my iPad. I only allow him 15min with me sitting next to him to use an educational app that i know he has to verbally interact with answering questions or sounding out phonics, etc. When a child is only watching the screen and not interacting verbally with the material, the brain is not engaging in the information to store it because the child is not expected to interact with the information. After the 15min. we close the iPad and either draw, read a book together, use tan gram puzzles, or go outside and play. Running, jumping, and other physical activities builds the vestibular system in the brain and has incredible benefits in the ability of the brain to learn. Staring at a screen without interacting does not make any child smarter yet we allow them to sit for hours as a babysitter for our lack of spending intentional time educating and building into our children valuable skills needed for living a productive life. Learning has to be intentional.

  13. I am a pediatric Nurse Practitioner, I find not only the kids but the parents as well can hardly restrain themselves from using their phones, tablets whatever even during the office visit…do I think that is rude, YES

  14. im doing a research project on technology and i want to know some negative and positive effects of technology………….answer this as soon as possible