Technology has become part of our daily routine, big and small technological devices keep catching our attention.
Selfies, Instagram lives and Facebook posts characterize our daily life: these elements can lighten many moments of our day and allow us to keep in touch with friends and acquaintances, those who are close and those who are far. When the attention we give to social networks or technological devices more in general, becomes too much and risks quitting time and care to children who need it? And when are children those who use technology: how does their way of living, playing and perceive reality change?
Increasingly often we see children, even in their very first years of age, spending time in front of smartphones or tablets, concentrating on playing or watching videos, leaving aside the classic methods of playing and approaching other peers.
For the parents’ point of view, this kind of entertainment simplify their role, as it is less demanding to manage a child, who is sat and is looking at a screen, leaving “adults” the time to take care of the house or do other activity in peace.
But is this a correct method of growth for children?
According to a survey made by the Center for Children’s Health Onlus and the Cultural Association of Paediatricians that involved 1350 families all over Italy, more than a third of parents with children under the age of 12 uses technological devices. When a child uses a technological device for a long period of time, instead of interacting with their parents or other people, the time to establish a healthy relationship decreases. The role that should be played by the adult is replaced, not always by programmes or games that are suitable for the age group or that can be defined as educational.
There are various consequences to these habits: in the following years serious addictions can surface. There are also important consequences for health and physical well-being: standing still for a long time in front of a screen can, in the long term, lead to risks related to immobility, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, type 2 diabetes, visual disturbances, irritability.
In addition, letting children play video games or watch videos that incite violence can lead them to simulate what they have seen, as they fail to divide videogames from reality. Since they are not given proper education by adult figures and don’t what is correct and what is not.
Listening to the parent's voice, shared reading, play and music promote the development of the child's brain and stimulate functions such as attention, language and creativity much more than digital devices do.
It's also nice to think of childhood as a joyful and serene time, in which you experience life in small steps, you create different games every day, simulating the world of adults, in an imaginative way: who can say they have never played to be a doctor, a teacher, a princess, an astronaut ...? Or maybe it is pleasant, sometimes, to remember the moments spent at the playground near the school with classmates, turning the slide into an impregnable fortress, chasing each other, or playing with the ball.
All these moments cannot and must not be completely replaced by technological devices that do not have the possibility of arousing the same emotions as a liberating run at the end of a long day of school.
And as tiring as it can be, after a long day of work, having to deal with children who have many needs and sometimes seem to be implacable, it is important to spend time with and for them. It is important to give them precise rules that limit misbehaviour and encourage them to develop the correct ones, without letting this task be carried out by television. The fatigue of the working day is not a valid motivation to leave children alone, also because the wrong behaviour in the small world of a child of a few years could lead to rude and violent attitudes in adolescents and adults.
Lastly, we shouldn’t forget about two severe social plagues linked to the digital era that deal with children: pornography and cyberbulling.
According to data published by UNICEF in a 2017 report on the condition of children in the world, 57,335 websites had pedo-pornographic material in them. Out of these websites, 60% of servers was on European servers and 37% on North American servers. 53% of children abused and exploited to produce this kind of content are 10 years old or even younger. When reporting on the positive and negative aspects, it can be said that although positive service sites and programmes try to pass on valuable knowledge to children and adolescents, there are also many risks associated with technology. A child's health must be protected in its entirety!
Translated by Francesca Cioffi
Original version by Sofia Perinetti