Social media snagging childhoods

Over-exposure to social media leading to negative effects on today's youth

Social+media+snagging+childhoods

Jackie Haines Graphic

Alexis Finley, Reporter

A lot of today’s younger generation, about 10 years old and younger, do not even play outside anymore. Kids are so pre-occupied with tablets, TVs and video games, they do not even know how to make a fort or go outside, play in the woods or play soccer. For example, my nephew  is eight years old, I have known him for about three years and in those three years I have never seen him play outside. He does not even know how to ride a bike and it makes me wince when I see him spend all day inside playing Assassin’s Creed, Halo and Mortal Kombat.

I am not saying it is wrong to play games, I grew up with a GameBoy and older video games, but I also spent hours outside playing basketball and frisbee, riding my bike and jumping on the trampoline. A Kaiser Foundation study in 2010 showed that elementary aged children use seven and a half hours a day of entertainment technology and 75 percent of those children have TV’s in their bedrooms – my  eight year old nephew and three year old niece both have TV’s in their rooms. I did not even have my own room growing up.

Type 2  Diabetes and child obesity are now national epidemics in the United States and Canada and both are related to technology overuse. Attention deficit hyper disorder (ADHD), autism, coordination disorder, developmental delays, unintelligible speech, learning difficulties, sensory processing disorder, anxiety, depression and sleep disorders have all been diagnosed and associated with technology overuse. The number of children with these are also increasing at a surprising rate, according to The Huffington’s Post’s article “The Impact of Technology on the Developing Child”.

As children using technology get younger and younger, it is harder for parents to supervise what their kids are seeing or doing. With access to millions of apps and the limitless Internet, kids must feel more grown up. Countless times on Instagram I have seen what looks like 10-12 year old boys taking pictures of themselves shirtless, girls with minimal clothing and both flipping off the camera, like they are at least 16 years old. When I was that age I was watching cartoons, not worrying about how many ‘likes’ I could get on a provocative picture. It seems like their innocence has just evaporated.

A couple of months ago, I overheard a girl telling people how her five year old sister got the new IPhone 5c. I do not understand why kids these days need such high-tech gadgets, other than contact reasons. Kids should be kids while they can and should  enjoy and cherish their childhood while they still have it.

Many kids these days also have a Facebook and are exposed to inappropriate pages that post pictures using adult, vulgar terms or profanity. They also have access to Vines, with more than half of them using some kind of cuss word.  Between TV, laptops, tablets, cell phones and iPods, kids are constantly bombarded with all kinds of media images. These often involve and eulogize, negative behaviors like underage drinking, drug use or sexual situations.These media images may also portray an idealized image of a child or teenager when it comes to weight and appearance, causing young children to develop a false sense of reality, according to the Global Post’s article “Exposing the Negative Effects of Technology on Kids”.

When kids are sucked into media so much, they become less interested in real life experiences and even daily interaction such as eating with the family at dinner, going places on the weekend and talking to others instead of texting. Now, ‘go to your room’ is a reward instead of a punishment. They can still play video games, watch TV and be on their phones while in their room.

When a group of four to six year olds were asked by an A.C. Nielson Company survey to choose between watching TV and spending quality time with their fathers, 54 percent of them said they would rather watch TV. Also, according to the same survey, the average parent spends three and a half minutes a week having meaningful conversations with their children, according to the article, “Negative Effects of Technology on Children.” This study was in 2010. I cannot believe what those statistics must be like now, four years later.

I know how much easier technology can make some things. It is a shortcut to answers of questions, it connects us with friends and saves us from boredom. But I feel that the younger generation is too dependent upon it. I would love to see my nephew learn baseball or soccer and enjoy the outdoors. I wonder how children would function if it was all taken away. One middle schooler told Washington Post she would “die without her phone.” Technology is meant to make our lives easier, however, when overused can have negative consequences on one’s mental and physical health.

 

For more information visit these sites:

“The Impact of Technology on the Developing Child”

(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cris-rowan/technology-children-negative-impact_b_3343245.html)
“Exposing the Negative Effects of Technology on Kids”

(http://everydaylife.globalpost.com/exposing-negative-effects-technology-kids-14909.html)

“Negative Effects of Technology on Children” (http://www.personal.psu.edu/djw5068/assignment%205.html),
“Does Technology Stunt Children’s Social Developement” (http://realtruth.org/news/090303-008-society.html)