This is a guest post, but I have blogged before about screen time and would love your opinions on this.
In today’s world of smartphones and tablets, it is becoming a rare sight to meet a child who does not have immediate access to a piece of technology that would have been unimaginable just 15 years ago. In fact, around 20% of children under the age of 16 now own a smartphone, with the vast majority having access to 3D TVs, computer games and the Internet either at home or at school.
With such a large amount of technology available to the youth of today, a number of concerned parents and child protection groups are asking if kids are now exposed to too much, too soon.
One of the main arguments put forward by the “anti-technology” camp is that exposure to such an array of high-tech devices is disrupting our children’s development by limiting their access to other activities that would otherwise encourage creativity and boost the curiosity in young minds. One children’s expert even went so far as to suggest that choosing to play with an iPad over a jigsaw can “discourage social interaction and genuine child-like play”.
There are also growing concerns over the type of content that children now have access to, with violent video games and inappropriate websites just a few clicks away, and the softening of television and film age ratings. Horror stories in the news have only heightened these concerns in recent years, leading some to believe that children should have their access to technology limited to just a few hours a day, giving them more time to spend outdoors or interacting with other children.
Whilst these concerns are all valid, it is important not to lose sight of the innate value of technology to today’s youth. The recent Olympic games are a prime example of the benefit of television to children, with 90% of the entire UK population having tuned in to watch at least 15 minutes of live coverage over its two week duration. The ability for children to find out more about and interact with positive role models such as the Olympic summer heroes is made possible by access to technology.
It has also been suggested that technology has revolutionised the way in which children learn, giving them access to innovative educational resources by way of newly developed apps, or by making revision fun with programs such as the BBC’s GCSE Bitesize series. The benefits of technology can also be seen in the development of children with educational difficulties, with websites and other resources available to help children with conditions from mild dyslexia to extreme autism.
Overall, the question of whether children are being exposed to too much technology remains extremely difficult to answer in a general sense. With parents able to limit the time spent in front of the television and monitor or restrict online activity, it is arguable that technology has become an invaluable educational and developmental resource for our young, allowing them to witness global events and take part in new experiences from their own homes.
Feel strongly about this topic or have an experience to share? Then please leave your comments below.