There is a lot of research suggesting the importance of play and getting outdoors. Play is also important for a child’s social and emotional development as well as a way for children to explore and discover. As we move into the summer school holidays we are reminded of the value and benefits of play and the issues surrounding the overuse of technology and electronics.
In today’s world using computers and electronic devices have become a necessity for the majority of children but not many people consider that there are actually medical consequences that can occur with prolonged use. For example, damaged eyesight, bad posture, arthritis in fingers hands and wrists, back and neck injuries that can be caused by sitting in one position for a prolonged period of time.
As we embark on the longest and warmest holiday period of the year, the likelihood of favouring staying indoors where its cooler is certain. This is the time when the tendency to choose electronics over more traditional options may be a preference for many children. Having an awareness of some of the harm that can be caused from prolonged use may be helpful:
A paediatric occupational therapist wrote ‘Ten reasons why handheld devices should be banned for children under the age of 12′. Whilst we disagree that they should be banned, it is worth being aware of the consequences of prolonged use. Here are five reasons that caught our attention:
Rapid brain growth and nature
Early brain development is determined by environmental stimuli, or lack thereof. Kids need to experience the outdoors–they need to spend time in “green” spaces or their brains aren’t going to grow the way they should.
Using technology restricts our movement. Movement and play are essential not only for child development and learning, but for survival. Not moving can lead to delayed development.
Violence is a learned behaviour. Children who are exposed to violent content may act out aggressively and physically toward their peers.
Connection to technology is actually disconnecting children from self, others, nature, and spirit. The result? Addictions to Facebook and video games and the inability to maintain healthy social relationships to name a few.
Children who overuse technology are experiencing a variety of problems: memory loss, distraction, obesity, anxiety, loneliness, child depression and the inability to concentrate.