Can you survive in a world where smartphones and computers do not exist? Tech giants such as Microsoft and Google have been shaping the future that we are living in right now. Embracing Internet of Things have changed how we deal with matters such as communication, shopping and entertainment. However, excessive reliance has raised concern, especially to parents, on whether to allow their children to be exposed to such complicated technologies at an early age. Every year, parents cumulatively spent a total of £3 billion on tech gifts for their children which on average of about £250 per child . Are these spending really necessary for better children development or is it just to satisfy their ego and to prove their financial ability?
Learning through technology
Name a few of the richest people in the world; Bill Gates (Microsoft), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Elon Musk (Tesla). Without a doubt that most parents in the 21st century will want their children to be tech-savvy. Technologies accompanied with easily accessible Internet will allow children to explore boundless information in the web. Online learning platforms such as Khan Academy provides prior knowledge on academic topics especially to regions where limited education institutions are available.
Based on the concept of utilitarianism, a decision made by the governing body will result in the largest benefit to society. The decision to prohibit children from accessing technology will mean to deny their rights to receive education. According to UNESCO, there are about 264 million children who are out of school. Therefore, implementation of this restriction would be a dull decision and will only worsen the scenario.
Children are born inquisitive, and it is their curiosity that motivates them to learn. Children that have access to technology are able to learn about the backbones of technology. Software nowadays is operated using various coding languages (e.g, Python, C++, Java) and these resources are more accessible on self-learning platforms such as SoloLearn or Stack Overflow compared to conventional classes. Features like sandbox environment and online forums facilitate fast independent learning for children to understand coding . Children that understand coding in the early stages of their lives are much more competent in using them when they grow up. Furthermore, having a good grasp on technology and coding provides them with an edge over their peers when applying for work. Currently, more than 78% of employers in the UK are seeking for workers who are proficient in both technology usage and understanding as they will lead to better work efficiency .
Besides, early exposure to technologies through gaming has proven to enhance hand-eye coordination and problem-solving skills. Fordham University psychologist found that children focused more on short term objectives. Therefore, allowing them to play “learning games” can improve cognitive and perceptual skills. Parents might be able to identify if their child is diagnosed with dyslexia through daily technology usage. Align with care ethics, where the need to care for those who have difficulties caring for themselves. Early diagnosis would enable early preparation for better management and treatment approach before children having to attend school. Moreover, advanced technology such as the text-to-speech tools can be a form of assistive tool which can support children’s learning process.
The Hidden Flaws
Children usually view behaviours by adult as an appropriate move, therefore they tend to mimic their actions. Kantian theory is an ethical action taken by the majority of the society which aligns with established norm. Nowadays, it is common that parents and siblings, the closest entity for a child in the early stages of his life, are using smart technologies in their daily life. Therefore, children will think that it is ethically correct for them to have one as well. However, young children will not be able to distinguish what is right and wrong hence leading to negative consequences if no proper guidance is provided. Application and games are mostly free to be downloaded; the only way for them to maintain operation is by promoting third-party ads. These third-party ads would look attractive and children with no prior knowledge would be fooled, eventually providing any personal information requested.
Excessive usage of technology by children will lead to a decrease in face-to-face interaction and this will affect their interpersonal relationship. Children who are too attached to technology spend less time with family and friends . They are said to be the excellent socializer in the online world but will suffer in social anxieties when it comes to physical interaction with others. Moreover, children who are addicted to technology will be less empathetic. An example to that is they will adopt the aggressive behaviour from violent video games which can lead them to become bullies.
Utilitarianism, however, can also be argued in limiting children from using technology as well. An average child spends up to seven hours per day watching television, playing video games and browsing the internet which consequently leads to long-term eye damage . Based on Dr. Christopher Starr from Weill Cornell Medical centre, exposure to sunlight plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy eyesight. Increasing technology usage would mean an increase of screen to sunlight ratio. If children are prohibited from using technology, they can utilise the time by doing something more beneficial, such as being physically active in sports, clubs and societies which can lead to a healthier lifestyle.
Without a doubt that technology has make the world a better place. News previously that were only available in newspaper can now be access digitally; culture around the world can be understood without having to travel. However, when technology falls in the wrong hands, the good of technology will be exploited.
The argument whether children should be allowed to use technology can carry on for decades as it brings both benefit and harm depending on how it is used. We believe children should be encouraged to use technology. However, parents too play a crucial role in making sure they are used appropriately.