Negative Impact of Technology on Children’s Growth

Abstract

In America, over 50% of children below six years of age use technological devices for more than two hours each day. This study will be undertaken to pay special attention to the emotional and cognitive effects of digital technology on the development of infants and young children and offer solutions to the problem. The foundation of Vygotsky’s theory is that social interaction has an essential function in cognitive development.

Lessening the time taken on digital devices is as successful in preventing or addressing obesity as increased physical activities. This research will utilize a secondary method of data collection and a qualitative, comparative analysis technique. Parents have a critical role to play in preventing the harmful effects of technology on their children. All children should be allowed to have daily physical exercise and sufficient sleep, apart from ensuring that they spend appropriate daily time on iPads, smartphones, and other digital gadgets.

Introduction

In the US, over 50% of children below the age of six years use technological devices such as smartphones and iPads for a cumulative period of more than two hours each day whereas they engage in physical activities for less than two hours daily. Some parents encourage their young children to spend most of their time in a sedentary lifestyle such as watching television as a means of ensuring that they remain occupied while they attend to important chores.

The majority of children around the world live in digitally entangled settings. The education system and industrial authorities promote the application of digital gadgets by children to prepare them to thrive in the modern technologically perceptive world. On the contrary, health professionals discourage the overuse of digital devices by children and warn about their potentially harmful impact on children’s cognitive, psychological, social, and physical development (Vulchanova, Baggio, Cangelosi, & Smith, 2017).

This study underscores the need for vivid and balanced information concerning the suitable use of digital technology by children for parents, health providers, teachers, and other experts who work with minors. The overuse of digital gadgets by young children should be monitored and minimized to help them reap the benefits of technology and avoid potential harm.

Problem Statement

The incorporation of digital technology in the lives of infants negatively affects their emotional, social, and cognitive development. Although modest use of technological devices provides numerous opportunities for young children to learn and enhances their cognitive development, overuse may result in harmful effects on their health and academic performance to mention a few. Some infants’ brains are exceedingly weak. Overuse of digital gadgets has been linked to loss of concentration, aggressive conducts, obesity, physical inactivity, delayed speech, and sleep disorder among infants and young children (Mustafaoğlu, Zirek, Yasacı, & Özdinçler, 2018; van den Heuvel et al., 2019).

Excessive use of digital gadgets makes children spend most of their time inefficiently. This study will be conducted as a means of paying special attention to the emotional and cognitive impact of digital technology on the development of infants and young children and the provision of solutions to the problem.

Theoretical Framework

A professional psychologist, Vygotsky, developed the theory of cognitive development referred to as the Sociocultural Theory of Cognitive Development. The theory affirms that social learning precedes cognitive development, which enables children to appropriately generate knowledge actively (Mills, 2016).

As digital technology improves rapidly, the present application has been linked to visual input that greatly takes the concentration of children and negatively affects their social interaction and learning, which are vital for proper cognitive and language development. Television, smartphones, iPads, and other digital gadgets have been found to considerably lessen observed parental word count and communication rate in young children from two to 48 months of age. This is linked to poor language development and delayed speech in early childhood.

In line with the Sociocultural Theory of Cognitive Development, the overuse of digital technology decreases opportunities for children to play and interact with their parents and peers, which is critical for cognitive and language development. The premise of Vygotsky’s theory is that social interaction has an imperative function in cognitive development. Interferences during the critical formative years of rapid brain development negatively influence children’s acquisition of knowledge, communication skills, and cognition (Mills, 2016).

Studies have found that children from three to five years of age who spend more than one hour each day using digital devices have decreased rates of development in the white matter of the brain, which is a vital segment for the establishment of literacy, language, and cognitive proficiencies. Young children, especially the ones under eighteen months, should not spend more than one hour per day using digital gadgets (Straker, Zabatiero, Danby, Thorpe, & Edwards, 2018). To facilitate their cognitive and language development, infants and young children should spend most of their time interacting with caregivers, parents, their environment, and playing with their peers instead of staring at glowing digital screens or using technological devices.

Purpose of the Study

The chance to obtain or promote developmental skills may be greatly decreased when infants and young children spend most of their time each day on digital devices such as smartphones over and above viewing content that is deemed unsuitable for their age. This study will seek to establish that if children spend more than two hours each day watching television or using digital devices such as smartphones and tablets, their cognitive, language, and social skills will be negatively affected. This may result in sleep disorders, obesity, delayed speech, and other health problems. This study will endeavor to bridge the gap of inadequate knowledge for health providers and parents concerning the recommended screen time or application of digital technology by children from birth to five years old.

Research Questions

For this research, the following questions will be addressed:

  • How does the application of technological gadgets influence developmental processes in young children?
  • How can the negative impact of excessive use of digital technology by children be avoided?
  • What is the recommended amount of time that young children should spend each day using digital devices?

As a section of this research, the analysis will include one research hypothesis:

  1. Excessive use of digital technology by infants and young children is harmful to their well-being and overall development

Variable Definitions

  1. Infanta child who is between birth and 18 months (Cheung, Bedford, De Urabain, Karmiloff-Smith, & Smith, 2017).
  2. Toddler– a child who is between 18 and 30-months-old (Nugraha, Izah, Hidayah, Zulfiana, & Qudriani, 2019).
  3. Screen time– the number of hours that children spend each day using/looking at glowing screens of digital gadgets such as televisions, computers, smartphones, and tablets (Ashton & Beattie, 2019).
  4. Technology– the use of scientific knowledge for realistic functions (Haughton, Aiken, & Cheevers, 2015).
  5. Digital gadgets/devices– technological appliances and instruments that have improved functionalities and unlimited possibilities (Sundus, 2018).

Literature Review

The time taken by children on digital gadgets is quickly rising due to the establishment of portable and instantaneously reachable technology in the form of smartphones and tablets to mention a few. Easy accessibility of digital devices, in addition to child-customized content, has consequently resulted in a reduction in the age of exposure to technology. The negative impact associated with the present culture of early exposure to digital devices is widespread and necessitates urgent deliberation attributable to continued technological advancements and their effects on social interactions (Haughton, Aiken, & Cheevers, 2015). The negative effects of technology on young children include poor cognitive development, low educational attainment, sleep disorder, reduced growth, obesity, and addictive behavior.

Technology, particularly age-inappropriate extended stare on screens, with their glowing capacity, has an incredible effect on children’s brains and their overall development. It is associated with aggression, anxiety, depression, deficit hyperactivity disorder, addiction, reduced attention, and in worse cases, psychosis (Stiglic & Viner, 2019). Guidance regarding the application of digital technology and screen time is essential to parental decision-making while in endeavors of nurturing young children and being mindful of their welfare and development. The overall goal of professional provision of guidance to parents and guardians should be to help them utilize digital technologies in approaches that are cognizant of children’s well-being, health, educational performance, and development.

Language and Speech Development

Excessive use of digital gadgets by children, attributable to technological advancements, has a negative influence on their ability to speak. Speech development is a crucial pointer of significant growth in cognitive ability between 9 to 24 months of age and future educational performance. In the contemporary world, children are being raised in settings that encourage excessive exposure to touchscreen gadgets and other digital devices.

For every child who employs digital gadgets excessively, every thirty minutes’ increase in the daily application is linked to augmented instances of delayed speech. The use of mobile media gadgets diminishes chances for parents-children play and relations, which are essential for language development in infants (Nirwana, Mappapoleonro, & Chairunnisa, 2018). Language acquisition theories underscore the implication of parental contribution and children’s relations with the environment on speech development.

Too much screen time, more than four hours per day, even if occurring together with parental interaction and communication, leads to delayed speech development as regards meaningful words (Nugraha et al., 2019). Studies establish that excessive use of technological devices by children results in delayed development of speech over and above poor cognitive and motor skills. Parents should regularly monitor their children’s application of technology and limit the time spent on such gadgets to avoid technology addiction and consequent negative effects.

Impact on Health and Development

For every mother nurturing a healthy baby, interacting with and contributing toward the appropriate development of the infant from birth influences the entire life of the child. Proper nutrition, care, attention, and interaction play an imperative role in the overall development of the child (Ashton & Beattie, 2019). The major concern about the effects of technology on children is how having regular access to digital gadgets might influence their cognitive development. Excessive use of modern technologies such as smartphones, tablets, and iPads leads to increased health problems among children (Ilgar & Karakurt, 2018).

There has been a rising concern regarding the effects of screens on the health and welfare of children. Too much time spent on screens by children has been linked to obesity, attributable to high energy intake and insufficient time for physical exercise (Sundus, 2018). Technology has also been associated with a harmful impact on temperament, socio-emotional and cognitive development, and poor educational achievement.

Sleep and Social Problems

Harmful influences of screen time may be attributed to the loss of other positive activities, for example, physical activities, social relations, and adequate sleep. Although technology provides opportunities for entertainment and learning, its impact on susceptible populations, for instance, infants and young children, demands cautious deliberation (Hosokawa & Katsura, 2018). Enough sleep is necessary for the proper development of infants and problems such as insufficient or irregular sleeping patterns are linked to negative impact in later life that encompasses obesity, language problems, reckoning deficits, and excessive restlessness. Traditional screen time, watching TV was associated with sleep disorder and developmental problems in children (Wolf, Wolf, Weiss, & Nino, 2018).

The development of portable technological gadgets worsened the existing connection and stretched the impact down in age to the disruption of sleep in infants, a period when slumber is fundamental for proper cognitive development. The regularity of smartphone usage results in sleep disorder in infants from as young as six months.

Solution

The use of gadgets by children should be reduced to less than two hours every day to prevent the associated negative effects. Additionally, parents should seek the specialized help of therapists or health workers to enable children who have delayed speech to speak like others of comparable age (Livingstone & Franklin, 2018). Interpersonal interactions in early childhood are essential for the creation of effective relationships and the generation of safe attachments that enable children to mature emotionally (Kardaras, 2016).

The number of hours that young children use on digital gadgets per day should be customized to each person, with special consideration to the introduction of such devices to toddlers or infants. The reduction of the time taken on technological gadgets is as successful in preventing or tackling obesity as increased physical exercise. Parents have a major role to play in preventing the negative influence of technology on their children. There is a need to monitor the time that children spend on digital devices and content viewed, as well as ensuring that they have ample physical exercise, healthy eating behavior, suitable sleep schedules, and an encouraging social environment to promote proper development, health, and wellbeing.

Adequate parents-children relations alleviate any related negative impact of screen time and promote learning opportunities. Early educators should consider the development pace of children when employing technology in learning endeavors (“Office of Educational Technology,” n.d.). They should evaluate what is beneficial for the healthy development of children before choosing the technological devices that will be used to assist students to attain the set learning outcomes.

Technology should not just be utilized without prior assessment of underlying gains and harm. Children below five years should also be allowed to have daily physical activities and enough sleep, apart from taking away iPads, smartphones, and other devices from them. This will play a vital role in the development of healthy practices that will prevent obesity and other medical conditions in teenhood and adulthood.

Methodology

Research Design

This study will embark on a secondary method of data collection and a qualitative approach to analysis. Primary and secondary data for use in the study will be obtained from recent and credible sources such as peer-reviewed journals, books, and internet sources from Google and online libraries such as EBSCOhost and Emerald.

Data Collection

The researcher will employ several search terms that will assist in obtaining suitable sources from the selected online database. Some of the terms that will be used include negative effects of technology on children; digital technology and delayed speech; and the harmful influence of smartphones, iPads, and tablets on the development of children. Out of the obtained data, the researcher will select the best 23 sources for use in this study.

Data Analysis

This study will utilize the qualitative approach to data analysis. A comparative analysis will help in the determination of the negative effects of technology on the development of children. This will play a key role in the establishment of suitable solutions to mitigate the problem. The benefits of qualitative analysis will be evident in its provision of depth and detail, which enable effective comprehension of attitudes, sentiments, and behavior.

Discussion

Though technology offers numerous positive gains for learning and cognitive development in children, excessive use of digital devices has numerous negative effects and should be avoided. For instance, it makes young children develop a sedentary lifestyle, contrary to playing outdoors with their peers, having physical exercise, or interacting with their parents. This leads to childhood obesity, sleep disorder, delayed speech, and poor cognitive development (Taylor, Monaghan, & Westermann, 2018).

A child’s prolonged exposure to harmful blue light (glowing screen) leads to the repression of the hormone melatonin that controls the sleep-wake pattern. Rather than prohibiting children from using digital technology, parents should set daily restrictions of less than one hour for infants and two hours for older children. Moreover, parents should guide them on what is reasonable and monitor their use of digital devices.

Parents should encourage their children to participate in regular physical exercise, play with friends, and interact with them rather than spending much time on digital technology. If parents demonstrate their support for beneficial practices, children will easily adopt them as part of their daily routine. When children choose to use technology, parents should guide them on the best approach of employing it purposefully (Rueb, 2019).

Encouraging children to play beneficial games or viewing content that is appropriate for their age will make them enjoy and gain from digital devices over and above overcoming the associated developmental problems of excessive usage of technological gadgets. Moreover, parents should act as good role models. If children find them on their smartphones most of the time, they will desire to use digital gadgets excessively as well. Keeping suitable limits on the daily application of digital devices and remaining alert of possible negative effects of excessive use will enable children and their parents to benefit from technology.

The results of this study will enable parents, caregivers, health professionals, and policymakers to establish effective approaches to helping children avoid excessive usage of digital technology and benefit from it rather than suffering the associated harmful effects. Attributable to insufficient time and resources, the researcher will not undertake a comprehensive study that engages human subjects and employs a mixed method of data analysis. Internal and external validity in the study was enhanced by the application of views from professionals in the field through their recent and credible sources. The findings are applicable in guiding children concerning the proper usage of digital devices. Future research should determine the effects of technology on both adults and children and compare the extent of impact.

Proposed Timetable

Proposed Timetable

References

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