Negative Effects Of Technology On Children

by frugalrvers

Being the parent of a young adult, with each passing year I see the negative effects of technology on children. She may disagree, but I feel saddened by how much she missed out on.

I've always been concerned about the effect of technology on children AND adults. But my daughter recently became a legal adult, "all grown up" as she would like to think...and now I can see the impact it made. There's so much I wish she could have experienced.

She was a child of divorced parents since a toddler. She had a mom (that's me) on one side, trying to deter from the fast pace of gadgets and advancements to the best of my ability. On the other side, she had a father whose household bought these expensive phones, games and gadgets every birthday and holiday, including upgrades when last year's model was no longer in style. So it was a challenge, for sure.

Of course things will change - that is to be expected. But what I felt badly for is that things progressed so rapidly - and some really important things got lost in the stampede of advancement.

For myself, I chose technology that I could live with and passed up on things I could certainly live without. After all, am I not sitting at a laptop right now? Of course I am. Though I must admit I miss my university days of typing my philosophy papers on my Smith Corona typewriter, then running it to Kinkos to make copies in time for class! My daughter would say, "What's Kinkos?"

Here are the bad things about technology that I wish were still around for my daughter to experience...REALLY experience, not be told about as if discussing the days of the dinosaurs.

Bad Effect Of Technology On Children: Losing MUSIC AND BOOKS

One large effect of technology on children is that they've lost the magic and ritual that music and books used to offer. Everything is on demand, everything involves downloading - the finished product appearing virtually out of thin air and nothing tangible to stimulate other senses.

For music, one of the most exciting experiences was buying that album, cassette or CD at the store, bringing it home, staring at the artwork/inserts/lyrics and hearing songs by your favorite musician that weren't played on the radio yet. Once you wore it out, it became part of your bedroom decor - placed on the bookshelf or CD storage cabinet amidst the rest of your collection.

So much went into an album before its release, and that was as appealing to the eyes like the music was to the ears. Today, kids download favorite songs and rarely experience much beyond that - often not remembering album titles, if there is one. No artwork imagery comes to mind. No order of songs on the LP is etched in the mind's eye.

Reading books is another negative effect of technology on kids. Many sit today reading a book off a screen. There are no more sensory experiences like the smell of a book, the creaking of the binding when first opened, the turning of pages on the fingertips or the placing of a favorite bookmark inside when done.

Today libraries are becoming less used or desired by our youth, bookshelves at home are becoming empty and bookstores are closing down. Even schools are beginning to do away with textbooks and replacing them with readers.

It saddens me to see this happen, and it is nearly impossible to explain to the very young today. Even in my modest rv that I live in full time, our cabinets are full of our favorite books/collections. They are a part of us, like traveling with your favorite worn out blanket you've had since college.

To me, this loss feels like I had normal sight most of my life, then went color blind overnight. Everything is black and white - literally. I remember my daughter's joy with a pop-up book, helping turn Dr. Seuss pages with tiny fingers. I remember sing-a-long children's music that she would put in a tape recorder or CD player, and follow along with the pages. I can't imagine having raised her, sitting on the bed with the glow of a Kindle, as she stared at a screen...or playing songs out of thin air, with no visual connection to go along with it.

Another Impact Of Technology On Young People - HUMAN INTERACTION LOST

It may seem funny to say, in a world where youth texts 24 hours a day, that an impact of technology on young people is that they've lost real human interaction...but I feel they truly have. Here are just a few examples:

Goodbye Board Games: My daughter's boyfriend and his family got her an iPad for Christmas. The same day, she passed me this electronic mystery and said "let's play Life" (the popular old board game). Of course, it was on this IPad gadget. There was no gathering around the "game" and no one could pay attention to how the other players were fact, there was chatter when it was another player's turn. When your turn was over, you simply passed it on. You couldn't see the entire board, there was no excitement of moving your piece, flicking the spinner...I quit after one game and said no more for me.

Can you imagine a young child playing Candyland or Chutes and Ladders on this device? Board games were precious family time around a kitchen table. Now we scrabble on our smartphone, plop toddlers in front of interactive games on laptops. Game time was the ultimate opportunity for laughter and meaningful human appears that is disappearing.

Goodbye Interaction Of More Than 140 Characters: In the world of Twitter, today's youth speaks shorter and shorter. I remember when my daughter was young, when she would be on the home phone with grandma or write a thank you note on stationary.

When email came along, it was "ok" because, as long as family on the other end had a computer and didn't mind email, typing was fun and she could spell out a long update on her own, giving details and talking about kid stuff (I still made phone calls continue, however). But then texting came. Micro keyboards that no one wants to say more than a few words on...then Tweets...what's next, "just read my mind" apps?

There is little talking on the phone anymore these days, there is overuse of screening calls, sending texts like "did u call?" instead of having to "deal" with actual voice communication. The worst part in all of this is how often these brief words via texts can be misinterpreted. There is little face to face interaction and many times just a word like "sure" can sound just like the opposite, or give someone the perception they really don't want to do something. Worse yet, kids feel obligated to respond to friends 24/7 because everyone has a phone now, and it is an insult to not reply.

The irony then, of course, is that with more frequent communication via technology, true human interaction has been lost in the shuffle.

Emerson Quote

More Bad Things About Technology And Kids - HEALTH CONCERNS

When it comes to health concerns and the impact of technology on kids, there are some direct and indirect ways that advancement can be causing harm.

Sedentary Children And Video Games: I feel that the popularity of video games has taken children off of the playgrounds and out of the fresh air. It has stifled creativity (remember fantasy play and art on a rainy day?) and hampered the feelings of real achievement except for reaching a new "level" on a video game. It has also made children quite solitary, even if others are playing the game with him/her.

This can lead to physically unhealthy children who aren't getting exercise, sunshine or fresh air. It can also lead to emotionally unhealthy children, who aren't using their minds fully for creativity, talents, exploration, fantasy play - all things that can build a real sense of pride and accomplishment in a developing child.

Technology And Health DANGERS: This is a very hot topic, with very high stakes - the health of our children, exposed to possible cancer risks from not only cell phones but constant exposure to all types of devices, all day long. Here is one article on cell phones. 

Do You Think Cell Phones, Laptops, Wifi And Other Similar Technology Can Cause Cancer?

Another Way Technology Is Bad For Youth - OUR KIDS NEED REST

Many of the examples of how technology can be bad for children can also be applied to adults. Certainly, we as parents want to do what is best for our kids - but we can also send mixed messages when we tell them "no" to their gadgets, as we text in grocery stores, have laptops on our laps during family time, etc. Society has become, in my opinion, a very unhealthy, multitasking nightmare. I believe wholeheartedly that being constantly connected, constantly stimulated while scouring inboxes all day, answering texts, tweeting, is going to be society's downfall. We weren't designed for constant fight or flight. Adrenal fatigue, anxiety, hyperactivity, insomnia - compliments of technology, are causing true physical harm. We need to relax and recharge our own physical battery inside, not the one on the smartphone.

So, Do I Think Technology Is Bad For Society?

I would never take the black or white stance that all technology is bad - that would be quite hypocritical of me. But I do believe there is a big, BIG problem out there. Words like technology, progress and advancement are being misused. They should be replaced with words like profit and faster - two potentially damaging motivations where technology is concerned.

Think about the technology you use most, then think about what it is you NEED (be honest) versus WANT. I'm only 44, but my childhood worked fine with a rotary dial phone, black and white tv I got up to turn the channel on, electric typewriter for homework, writing letters or calling loved ones. My days weren't boring as a little girl without these things. I think I can say I received a very good education without interactive learning games for toddlers when I began crawling about the house. I got a good night's sleep because the world was turned off when the sun went down.

It seems advancement has become about making money and needing speed in our lives. No matter how much you love your gadgets, do you really need them to live or be happy? I work on the computer right now to support my full time rv lifestyle, but my husband and I talk about a day when we are on our feet enough, so we can turn it all off and just "be."

I've shared with my daughter all that I can, and she fortunately still loves to read a good book in her hand. She is a fantastic artist because we promoted her expression, music, creativity and much more as a child (this is what she is pursuing in adulthood now, thankfully!).

Though technology (to my despair) even tried to create virtual pets, she still loves nothing better than to hug our rv cat, Spot (and me, but it is uncool in public still). There is nothing like human touch or hearing the voice of a loved one, is there? I lost my mom a year ago and can still hear her voice in my head, thankfully.

In a world where we've turned to giving virtual hugs, no matter how kind the intent, nothing will ever replace the feeling and warmth of a loving embrace - even if technology tries to create such a lonely, empty device.

Updated: 04/18/2018, frugalrvers
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Is Technology Bad? Comments

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frugalrvers on 03/04/2013

Thank you, JB!

JB on 03/04/2013

Loved your article. I so agree.

frugalrvers on 01/21/2013

I know it is dark to say, but sometimes when I imagine the world 100 years from now I see it as eerily quiet - I just don't think this pace can continue without harmful consequences. What scares me more is when I visualize (through stories from grandparents, etc) of what it was like 100 years somebody in the last 100 years stepped on the accelerator and we are going to lose control of the car very soon.

katiem2 on 01/20/2013

lol, k anytime your in Ohio look me up, I'd love to take good care of you while here. :)

BrendaReeves on 01/19/2013

I'm with you 100% on this. Sometimes I wish I'd never seen a computer. Luckily, my daughter and SIL only allow their kids 30 minutes on the computer once a week and it's closely supervised. I played board games with my grandmother for hours and my kids too. Just imagine what the world will be like 100 years from now?

frugalrvers on 01/19/2013

Thanks, as always, for your valuable and helpful insight! You sound like such a wonderful mom, Katie - I'm 44 but am available for adoption! :)

katiem2 on 01/19/2013

My daughters are constantly asking me to play a board game with them. If I stop and take the time to do so they'd much rather do that than be on electronics. If we parents stop, take the time and get involved kids follow and love hands on activities. Although it is time consuming it is a vital component to healthy well adjusted kids. Great topic :)K

frugalrvers on 01/17/2013

Thanks Katie!
Though my daughter is in a more urban environment now, I'm so glad her childhood years were spent in the mountains. She found "entertainment" by walking through the woods, collecting rocks, bringing wildflowers home, etc...she says she is so happy she had that as a kid because "kids my age these days are's all about designer clothes and malls." That's my girl!

katiem2 on 01/17/2013

Oh I so agree, kids need to get up and out touching and feeling the real world around them. This is a great article, gonna share Share and SHARE some more. :)K

frugalrvers on 01/10/2013

Thanks for your comment! My daughter is 18+ now and though these advances certainly were appearing as she got older, it wasn't something "everybody had" I still felt I could set boundaries. But you are right, they do need to keep on top of things because it isn't going to change anytime soon!

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