The Youngest Generation and Their Access to Technology: Why Is it Detrimental? 

    A young child on a cell phone, showcasing the young age at which kids are accessing technology.
    A young child on a cell phone, showcasing the young age at which kids are accessing technology.
    Charles Deluvio

    In a world of rapidly developing technology, new phones, tablets, and computers coming out every year, nearly everyone owns some kind of device one way or another. This, unfortunately, seems to include young children as well. Young children glued to iPads, nine-year-olds with open access to the internet with their phone: and it only seems to be increasing in frequency over time. What are the exact causes of this, though? And what are the effects of being exposed to these things at such a young age? 

     

    There is a plethora of reasons as to why kids might get a cellphone or electronic device earlier in life. Studies show that 78% of parents give their child a phone in order to have easier contact with them, which is a valid concern for many. Fewer parents, however, said that they simply gave their child a phone to keep them entertained (25%). Even fewer stated that they got a phone because their child had classmates with one (6%). Approximately one-in-ten parents of kids aged 5 to 11 say that a large part of the reasoning in getting them an electronic device is to do homework. 

     

    It’s important to be mindful, though, that according to other studies, excessive cell phone usage can result in increased attention and concentration issues, especially for younger kids. This can be harmful not only in school, but as well as in the workplace, where high levels of focus can be required for longer periods of time.  

     

    These same studies also observed how 9- and 10-year-olds who use excessive amounts of technology also exhibit changes in brain development. These disruptions result in higher levels of anxiety, depression, and internalizing problems earlier in life: this can also severely harm the ability to socially interact and create problems in initiating conversations with others.  As well as causing psychological problems, it can also cause physical consequences. High tech use is also proven to cause sleep disruptions (like insomnia), eye problems, and musculoskeletal health.  

     

    In a recent interview, Ms. Buford, a personal development teacher at Patriot High School, shares her insight on the extent of the problem: “…I’m sure you’ve seen children as babies that have iPads and cell phones. And what it does, it affects the brain, the development of the brain. It’s affecting how they think. {It causes] shortened attention span…” Ms. Buford also added that marketing technology specifically towards the younger generation doesn’t help alleviate the problem: “Bright colors, spinning tops… it’s all kinds of things to address their attention, but inadvertently, it almost gives them attention deficit…having all these things flashing, blinking, and all these different colors… in essence, real life is ‘boring’.”   

     

    Overall, while the appeal of purchasing technology for younger kids exists, it’s crucial to be wary of the mental and physical long-term effects of allowing them access to devices that could potentially harm them drastically in the future.  

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