How Technology is Becoming a Crutch
Walk into any home and you will find that electronics largely outnumber the people living in the actual home. According to the EPA most households own 24 electronics!
Does anyone else find this disturbing????
As a teacher and parent, I can firmly say, by relying so much on technology in our houses we are allowing ourselves and our kids to become lazy.
How many times when the kids are bouncing off the walls do you switch on the TV? Or let them play games? I know people who purposely give kids electronics just so they can make supper in peace.
Instead of guiding our kids to help with meals or things around the house, many parents inadvertently isolate their kids by giving out the electronic babysitter. Sure it is cheap and easy and kids love it, but electronics in this case, are used to pacify the kids and allow parents to not address the issue.
Perhaps the biggest concern about our ’technology crutch’ is that it is actually rewiring children’s brains.
Technology that plays strongly on the senses – like video games – can literally “blow the mind” by temporarily or permanently deactivating certain nerve connections in the brain.
Experts used MRI’s to scan brain function of young men and found out that those who play violent video games had a decrease in the use of the frontal part of the brain (the one responsible for controlling emotion).
Brain development is crucial up to age 12 and according to a study done in 2010 most kids are spending 7.5 hours a day on electronics. That’s a lot of rewiring!
As someone who has taught violin lessons to kids for over 14 years I can tell you that I don’t need a study to tell me or confirm that kids behaviors (and parenting) has changed dramatically over the years, particularly in the last 5 years. I know the stories. I see the behavior. I have even written articles on this new parenting crisis.
While parents do not want to admit it, technology is changing how kids are developing.
Since smart phones and tablets hit the scene kids are loosing valuable skills. Most students have short attention spans and just want to be entertained. Working at something or just practicing something a second time leads to big sighs. Kids no longer see the value in working, they see the value in getting to the next level and outsmarting (the game).
In the last 5 years the number of students who flat out tell me “no!” in a violin lesson increases by the day.
Kids don’t learn respect by playing video games or watching tv. Kids don’t learn patience by outsmarting the game and getting to the next level. Kids don’t learn how to deal with their emotions when they are aggressively getting what they want immediately through winning a video game and manipulating their character.
Video games and tv are the worst role models for reality. The whole entire tv and gaming industry is based on fiction and people are putting their kids in front of this fiction for more hours a day then they are actually talking to their kids.
In essence, technology is raising our kids.
Is that really what you want?
Adults are restless, kids are restless. Technology is restless. What might seem like a harmless little app is really a pacifier.
Now at my boys school the teachers have mini microphones that hang around their necks. From what I have heard, the teachers love them as they don’t have to strain their voices all day. But the funny thing is, kids find it weird. The other day my son said, “Dad, it is kind of weird that the teacher’s voice comes from a speaker behind me when she is standing in front.” Both of my boys went on to say how different it is to hear teachers through the speakers.
As professional musicians, both my husband and I are completely uneasy with microphones in the classroom. The human voice sounds different through a microphone. It is not as natural. Think of it this way, a regular acoustical guitar sounds very different from an electric guitar. Even if I put a pick up mic on my violin it will sound different. There is a more digital sound. Even the voice is becoming electronic in this technology “age”.
As my husband said this morning, “Teachers used to get our attention in school by talking softer. Now they just get microphones to talk louder.” We see the microphones as a crutch -a way to not deal with the fact that teachers are having to talk louder in school, because kids behavior is changing. Kids are getting louder, more restless.
I challenge you, press the off button on your tv’s, computer games, smart phones and tablets, just for 24 hours.
At first the world might seem dull. Your kids might not have the skills (at first) to cope.
Get out a board game. Go for a walk. Cook dinner together. Become a family again. Build some incredible skills.
Remember the things you loved as a kid? Riding bikes, playing outside, climbing trees… You became who you are because of your experiences. You didn’t need a smartphone to become smart. Experiencing life makes you smart.
Skills of communication, patience, ingenuity, creativity, don’t come easy, but if we continue to use electronics as a crutch our kids are going to be missing valuable life skills. Teachers and employers are already seeing this happen. Basic skills that are so needed in the workforce (or as an entrepreneur) are vanishing.
Once our kids have begun seriously building their skill set, then they can use technology responsibly, but until then, we as parents can provide opportunities for our kids to grow verses opportunities for our kids to be entertained.
Join me in the comments below. I would love to hear how your kids fill their free time.
See you outside!
P.S. Just in case you are wondering, my husband and I both own smart phones, 2 computers and an iPad. However, we do not have tv in our home and our kids only get my iPad on Fridays from 4-6:30 pm. Yep, 2.5 hours of electronics once a week TOTAL. It took us awhile to find something that worked, but having a set schedule so our boys know when they can works. (I’m not crazy enough to never let them touch electronics, I’m just mindful). With their free time they have been building their own tree houses, playing music, reading books, painting, playing soccer and baseball and starting their own business at the age of 8.