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How Bad Can Gadgets Harm Kids?

Gadgets impacts on kids
How Bad Can Gadgets Harm Kids?

Sometimes, when I look at children glued to iPads or smartphones, I tend to sympathise with them.

I understand they’re born into the Alpha generation (born after the 2010s), where technology is a way of life. Regardless, where’s the fun of playing tag, creating stories with dolls, or getting their hands dirty from colouring?

For example, I was recently in Bali for work. It was a Sunday afternoon, the sun was gleaming after a full morning of non-stop rain. Naturally, everyone at the resort swiftly secured their spots on the beach. I noticed younglings making sandcastles and chuckling as they paddled in the waves, yet there were still a couple who lay beneath the shade to watch their favourite cartoons.

Technology is undoubtedly influential in human life. Kids generally bore easily and gadgets keep them entertained. Aside from that, gadgets are profound for a student to learn many topics and hone their passions. It is, however, concerning for children who are in the stage of developing their talents and creativity and are falling into a world of technology, which can hinder the development of their minds.

Like everything else, gadgets have their pros and cons. Kids may easily imitate unsuitable and inappropriate words and actions, which result in negative impacts on their behaviours, including addiction.

Given the negative connotation of gadget addiction, parents are highly encouraged to limit screen time. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a maximum of one hour every day to learn and watch shows about various colours, shapes, animals, and objects for children aged two to five. Meanwhile, children aged six years and above have no specific limits on gadget usage, without allowing for continuous screen time. If unnecessary, it’s best if this age group doesn’t use gadgets – rather, they should freely roam around, physically interacting and playing with their friends.

Parents are prone to revert to gadgets because of a variety of interesting features and applications that can accompany their kids while they carry out their activities in peace. Subsequently, a virtual playmate is formed. This isn’t entirely bad, but whatever happened to imaginary friends? Or those random, mind-throbbing questions kids ask adults?

Parents
Parents Have to Be Able to Supervise Their Kids When Using Gadgets

Parents play a vital role in supervising kids while at home. They need to give directions on how gadgets should be used according to their needs, such as communicating with teachers or friends to discuss lessons. This reduces the possibility of gadget misuse. Always accompany kids when playing with gadgets and adopt screen time, to balance out play and study sessions.

Teachers are also influential in supervising children while at school in the form of introducing educational games and inviting children to do activities without using gadgets. Teachers must be aware of technological developments, especially.

Local news has proven kids use technology for the wrong reasons, backed up by their high levels of curiosity. A bullying case in Tasikmalaya, West Java, in 2022 involved a year five student who experienced physical, sexual, and psychological violence, based on a  50-second video that was spread initially on the local villagers’ WhatsApp group, then broadcast on social media. Two underage perpetrators were seen holding a cat’s paw while the victim was stripped naked and forced to have sex with the animal in the video.

That is one example of unsupervised gadget use causing harm. Others include:

  • Radiation increases the risk of cancer
  • Using a cell phone for more than 30 minutes can cause deafness or acoustic neuroma
  • Eye irritation and nearsightedness caused by regular use of maximum brightness on cell phones, computers, and tablets
  • Unable to have self-control due to socialisation that occurs indirectly
  • More conflicts occur and there is no attempt to solve the problem
  • Uncontrollable selfishness
  • People who associate a lot with gadgets live slightly shorter lifespans
  • Decreasing student concentration when receiving materials delivered by educators
  • Distractions
  • Discourage the imagination developments from the interesting visual appearances

On the flip side, a balanced portion between gadget usage and interaction with the surrounding environment can complement the fast and uncontrollable developments of technology by promoting:

  • More practical communication
  • A rise of creativity
  • Easy access to the world beyond their walls
  • Humans become smarter in innovating with features and programs related to knowledge and education

Several schools in big cities have enacted rules prohibiting bringing gadgets to school, to anticipate undesirable situations. In exchange, students are provided with internet facilities from schools which are considered safer and supervised, and parents who want to call their kids can call the school instead. Actually, I encountered this during my secondary years. It was rather burdensome. At least it taught me patience and the definition of effective communication on my end and the recipients – my parents and teachers.

Though this may not be possible for all schools to enforce, teaching limits to kids should still start early – at home and at school. Tons of information online indicate further pros and cons but without any action from adults, no kid should navigate the digital world on their own. How would you save your kid(s) from the harm of gadgets and instead prompt its effectiveness?

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