Are Children Negatively Impacted by the Focus on Technology? (by Collin Huschka)

Mr. Kenny Butler

Parent/ Family & Community Involvement Leader

kenny.b10@hotmail.com

Dear Mr. Butler:

I’m writing to you as a student at Portland Community College, more specifically the Rock Creek Campus. In the most recent years of my twenty years of living I’ve realized the increased dependency on technology by children and their seemingly disconnected attitude towards the world around them. I’m contacting you with not necessarily an answer, but rather an insight that spawns from the research and volunteering I’ve done in the past few months.

Having somewhat recently graduated high school, been around peers with younger siblings and volunteered with children in a daycare/after school program, I’ve realized the dependency that children have on technology. I’ve also realized that when you attempt to talk to a child who is involved with a video game, typing a text message or focused on any technology device for that matter, you tend to get various “default” answers to even the most conversation-sparking questions. This lack of interpersonal interaction that children have when involved with their electronic devices seems to be creating not only a detrimental social effect but also a level of obliviousness to the world around them. This isn’t only the child’s fault; the blame can also be attributed to the allowance of such behaviors by the parents as well.

The fact of the matter is that children are our future and by not allowing a child reach their full potential not only cheats them but also cheats society. By limiting the amount of time children spend on the internet, on their cell phones, watching TV or playing video games, will only benefit all of us down the road. Studies have shown that children who’ve tested in school to a “gifted” level often seem to underachieve in their studies because they’re able to avoid doing their schoolwork by taking part in various technological vices. The constant use of technology can also create an overall dependence on technology as well as a “blending” of the cyber world and the real world.

I understand that with the development of society and the world that technology is rapidly becoming an important part of everyday life but that use of technology can be set aside, even if only temporarily, to increase the educational ambition of our youth. By simply giving a message to children’s parents that speaks on limiting their child’s technology usage to better the educational lives of their children would serve as at least a stepping stone to bettering the future of our state and country as a whole.

Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to consider the idea of parents limiting technology use in households for the betterment of their children’s education and development as people and in our community.

Sincerely,

Collin Huschka

****

THE RESEARCH COLLECTION

Research Question: Are young children’s social interaction skills, educational learning ability and even their health being negatively affected by the constant focus on technology?

SOURCE #1

Rochman, Bonnie. “Too Young to Text?” Time 27 Aug. 2012. Academic OneFile. Web. 22 Nov. 2012.

Summary: Bonnie Rochman discusses the percentages of young children who have cell phones and the factors that parents should consider when buying their child a cell phone. According to a study done by Gary small, a Psychiatry professor at UCLA School of Medicine, he discovered that too much texting can “dull” a child’s social sense within face-to-face interactions. There is also, although inconclusive to this point, a worry about cell phone radiation affecting young children and their developing brains. The final point made it by James Ruben who is a Pediatric Ophthalmologist; he states that staring at a small screen (such as one on a cell phone) for hours on end may be correlated to nearsightedness.

Commentary: The previous article makes a point of stating that young children are acquiring cell phones more often than ever before but it could cause some developmental and health risks. The studies done show that constant texting and attention being paid to their phones can cause children to not develop socially at the same level as children who aren’t constantly focused on their phones. Staring at a phone, as well as any small screen, for extended periods of time can create nearsightedness in children which can obviously affect their lives down the road ad into adulthood.

SOURCE #2

Adams, Sue K., and Steven Barreto. “Digital Technology and Youth: A Developmental Approach.” The Brown University Child and Adolescent Behavior Letter June 2012: 1+. Academic OneFile. Web. 22 Nov. 2012.

Summary: This article references the obvious fact that child growing up in today’s society are much more tech-savvy than any previous generation and even understand technology more than today’s adults. This poses many issues in their lives such as: cyber bullying, plagiarism, reckless sharing of information and even the blending of the cyber world and the actual world. Although the use of sites such as Facebook can increase a child’s self-esteem, it can also be linked to poor academic results and lack of sleep. Those “cons” of technology use can really be connected to any technology based portal such as video games, cell phones, etc. From a parents standpoint, by limiting the amount of time their child spends “tuned in” to those technology items the better their child will do in school and the more stable their child’s emotional health can be outside of computer based social interaction.

Commentary: Children ultimately have the upper hand when it comes to the “in’s and out’s” of technology in today’s world compared to adults. This higher level of technological knowledge comes from the constant use of phones, computers, video games, etc. because there is no better teacher than experience. But, this experience comes at a price, which can be seen by declining academic results, emotional dependency through online peer approval and overall disconnectedness from the reality around them. Through conscious effort by their parents, children can be changed for the better by limiting the amount of time they spend on those technology devices.

SOURCE #3

Abelman, Robert. “Fighting the War on Indecency: Mediating TV, Internet, and Videogame Usage Among Achieving and Underachieving Gifted Children.” Roeper Review 29.2 (2007): 100+. Academic OneFile. Web. 22 Nov. 2012.

Summary: Information from this article states that over 75% of school-age children have access to the internet at home and over 24% can access the internet from their bedroom. It goes on to state that reports suggest that school-age children log onto the internet alone around 16.7 hours weekly and those numbers double when a child has internet in their bedroom. This constant access to technology leads to a link that children who tested to a “gifted” level in school may be underachieving because of their ease of procrastination and ability to escape their school work. Since technology is in almost every spectrum of life nowadays it makes for a very easy passage for children to forget or ignore their schoolwork and go focus on something more enjoyable and fun.

Commentary: With the percentages of internet in homes of school-age children over 75% and of those children over 24% have internet in their bedroom; it looks to be a major factor when understanding the underachievement of children. This article was written around five years ago which can only mean that those percentages have increased, at least moderately, since then. When children are forced to focus on school they test to be gifted yet when they get out of an educational setting their focus is no longer on schooling but rather on what is enjoyable at the time. That enjoyment comes in the form of technology which allows children to forget about their school work and escape into the world of procrastination through the internet, TV, cell phones and video games. Referencing Source #2, if children were limited by their parents and even held to stricter standards by their schools as far as personal technology usage, then more children would be considered “gifted” rather than “underachieving”.

SOURCE #4

Herbert, Marion. “Videogames improve creativity in children.” District Administration Nov.-Dec. 2011: 24. Academic OneFile. Web. 22 Nov. 2012.

Summary: This article was based on a test done by Michigan State University that showed that out of a group of 491 12-year-olds of differing genders; the children who played video games were more creative compared to those who used cell phones, the internet, or computers. They were tested on their creative thinking by commenting on a drawing, expanding upon the original drawing and what the idea presented to them. The study also proved that children who played video games had improved visual and spatial skills compared to the children who participated in the other forms of technology.

Commentary: This article is used as somewhat of a devil’s advocate showing that some use of technology isn’t necessarily detrimental to the development of a child’s creativity. Although only video games showed as an improvement to their creativity and not the use of cell phones, computers or the internet, it still shows a positive test. However, this study only was testing a child’s creativity and not, for example, their interpersonal social skills so it didn’t exactly disprove the stance I’m taking on my research question that technology can negatively affect children.

QUESTIONS

  1. I chose the last article to somewhat show how technology can be helpful for developing children, is that a good idea or should I focus on the negatives?
  2. Should I look for another source that has legitimate percentages rather than opinions and potential negative effects?
  3. I attempted to focus on an age group that is roughly 5-13 years old so it shows the effect of technology on younger children and in your previous response to me you suggested including age groups, does that inclusion make my question and theme specific enough?

In the previous listed sources I picked out a couple paragraphs that summed up the importance of each source. I looked for sources that spoke about the negative effects that technology can have in a social and an educational setting as well as negative health effects that can occur over time. My last source was to play the role of devil’s advocate to show how a form of technology, video games, can help children and their creativity levels in school. Most of the sources I read through didn’t contain much concrete evidence taken through scientific studies but I’ll continue to look for different sources that could properly capture that objective.

For my public writing I’m choosing to write a letter to a government official, most likely a member of the board of education in Oregon, referencing the negative aspects that technology can create within an educational setting. I’m looking to discuss how the constant use of technology should be somehow limited in school or at least concentrated towards educational sources to help young children and their development in school. I want to write a letter to an important public figure rather than take part in a blog because a letter would get directly to someone who has an impact on the topic. I’m not totally sure if I should write a letter to a member of the board of education or to a different person, if you have any suggestions on who I should write a letter to that would be much appreciated.

As far as having someone review my work before it gets submitted, I’ll connect with the partner in my group, Jeremy, or if I could use an outside source I would get it reviewed by either my Uncle or my Mother. My mom works at Southridge High School and my Uncle was the Principal at Sweet Home High School; they both could shed light on the correct way to address this issue to a public official so the message gets understood.

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2 comments

  1. First off you did a great job putting your own thoughts in this letter and how you truly felt on this subject. I feel very strongly about this topic as well and I feel like something have got to change or we will be looking at very secluded children and in turn secluded adults. I really like how you put some ideas about what we can do to help with this change because it is very hard to change the impact that technology has on children. I really like the letter and I hope they take it to heart and make changes to better a future.

  2. Sam

    Collin Huschka your letter is staggeringly well written, and formal. However, I could not DISAGREE with you anymore. My change of opinion has nothing to do with your letter, or research. I believe you excelled in both of these categories, and produced a thought provoking final product.
    Limiting technology use at this point in time, is nothing but counterproductive. As our society progresses in technology, we will be integrated with technology. I would recommend taking the time to look up cyborg anthropology, and Amber Case. Technology is only strengthening our society, from education, to healthcare, to communication, and anything you could ever imagine.
    I would recommend watching this.

    A lot of the technology for what’s in this video currently exits. Our society isn’t quite ready for its intragration, which is a shame. The video will show you one take on tomorrow’s world. This definitely worth watching.
    Currently I’m teaching my niece writing, math, and programming all simultaneously. How am I doing this? I’m teaching critical thinking, syntax, and algebra with a tablet. With a simple code I put together first with JavaScript, now with python – When she opens the app titled her name, it dives into simple questions. She can point out circles, create ellipses, bend diameters and see results instantly. Not only does she see the image, but she can go into the code, and change her results creating bigger or smaller ellipses. Did I mention her age? She is 3 years old. I can customize the tablets UI keeping up to date with the latest children trend. This helps keep her attention.
    Great job with your letter, but I urge you to dig deeper in the world of technology. The possibilities it can provide kids is truly limitless.

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