Children and Technology: Development or Disaster?

Group 47

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 [1]. 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 [2]. 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 [3].

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 [3]. 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 [4]. 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.

Conclusion

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.

24 thoughts on “Children and Technology: Development or Disaster?

  1. Great article and good argument you have there. I personally think that care ethics would suit better for the argument which you said children who were hooked with technologies have less interaction with their friends and family. Sadly, this is slowly becoming a norm, where if you are at a restaurant, you will easily spot parents who are so into their own phones, leaving their children with tablets and phones. There is minimum or no interaction within them, and this is really sad because meal time is supposed to be one of the very few times one family can gather and interact with each other. Another issue to raise is how parents can monitor what or who their children are doing with/interacting with through social media? There are a lot of rape/kidnap cases which happened because kids had been contacting people which they have totally no idea of through social media. Children are also exposed to the very complicated side of internet where they are exposed to all sort of things such as vulgar and pornography, or any other things which we defined not moral/ethical. As how you said in your article where kids could not identify what is right or wrong, it is very easy to manipulate them in many different ways through social media.

    I also doubt how care ethics is used to argue about the positive side of technology usage within children. How many cases are there which parents were trying to diagnose their children through the use of technology? Are you trying to say that parents who care for their children, introduce technology to them in order to check if they have dyslexia?

    1. Thank you for the comment Xiao! Glad that you realize the seriousness of this issue. In terms of how parents monitor their children’s technology usage has really been a hot topic recently. Developers has been integrating tools such as “Kids Mode” on devices which is able to block sensitive website and applications. However, this can be easily overwrite by their children with subtle knowledge. Therefore, we don’t think that this could be the ideal solution for it. The best solution for now would be that parents should accompany their children while they were using technology.

      Care ethic explained the support that human-made technology have provided to children with learning disabilities. For example the text-to-speech tool and much more in the link provided in the link provided. Not to say parents must use technology to diagnose children with dyslexia but just a form of early indication. This early indication would prepare parents with appropriate steps ahead. Children will still be required to undergo normal procedure of a normal dyslexia diagnosis text. Without technology usage behavior, parents might realize the issue once children attend school. Realizing it when children has started school would mean that children would have to follow a tight schedule of the school hence testing and diagnosis would be difficult. Children might have to skip classes just to seek help. Without early planning parents would panic about children’s future learning process.

  2. Overall well written backed by strong points. Realize the importance of sunlight exposure and dyslexia diagnosis.

    Your point on sunlight exposure should be emphasized more as I believe too much of sunlight exposure would cause detrimental effects compared to screen time exposure.

    Was a bit surprise at the first place when I realize that technology could help children with dyslexia (I have never thought about that). However, the point when you mentioned that it is able to diagnose children with dyslexia before entering school gives me a second opinion. I believe most children would spend time playing video games instead of reading storybooks at such age and most diagnosis tests are conducted through reading and writing. Therefore, in my opinion it only helps by a slight amount when they are children but could help a lot more when they become teenagers.

    1. Hi Carl! Thanks for the comment. I think what you meant would be the strong exposure of UV radiation light. We realize that the issue with long exposure would lead to detrimental effects. A healthy exposure would be around 30-40 minutes a day. Our body is design to produce Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. This nutrient would increase absorption of other nutritious compounds.

      From our view a little help is also considered help. I totally agree on children using technology on games only and that is really a good argument. That is why we have included that children should only be exposed to “learning games” at such age. I believe that these games would be able to help in the diagnosis process.

      If parents would want to diagnose if their children has dyslexia they could conduct online Dyslexia Screening Assessments which can be easily found by using Google.

  3. Great article! I like your argument about children learning through technology due to the infinite amount of resources available online. This is because technology can indeed help advance a person’s knowledge through the many different learning platforms available that is also easily accessible from anyone’s technological device that is connected to the Internet. However, it is worth noting that in most cases, children use the technological devices to play games or watching videos only, and although this can also be another form of learning through various type of media, the contents that the children consume has to be monitored in order to not bring a bad influence. This brings back to how parents raise their child. Some parents may take the easy way out and just give technological devices to their child or children to give them temporary “peace of mind”, but in reality, more monitoring has to be done in terms of what these children access due to the vast amount of both good and bad influences available online.

    I believe parents play a crucial role to remove the hidden flaws from technology use for children with proper guidance and monitoring. However, the question is, can the parents manage to do this, especially with how busy and fast-paced the world is? Even parents may not necessarily get sufficient amount of face-to-face time with their children, especially working parents, so the question of what the best way is to properly guide and monitor a child’s growth with the use of technological devices is still quite difficult to answer in my opinion.

    1. Thanks Adilah for your amazing input! We too realize that children uses technology for gaming instead of reading storybooks. Therefore, it is important for them to play “learning games” instead of violent games which mostly involves shooting and killing. This comes back to monitoring of applications in the devices.

      I totally agree that parents nowadays always take the easy way out. In this fast paced developing world where most parents spend 8-hours a day in the office, they have totally neglected the responsibility towards children development. Worse cases are that children are put into children nursery or being taken care by their grandparents.

      To prevent they hidden flaws within technology usage, a more established monitoring approach is required. For now, we think that parents involvement in children’s technology usage is the only way out. Yes, parents have a busy schedule but at least they can teach them during the weekends?

  4. Indeed, technology has both its pros and cons. Labelling technology as either good or bad is an oversimplification and wouldn’t capture the full spectrum of what technology is capable of. This article acknowledges this point.

    Young children have the tendency to model their parents behaviour, be it good or bad. Therefore, parents play an important role in shaping children’s perception and usage of technology. For example, if parents make use of tablets and story-telling apps to facilitate children’s learning, then children might positively associate technology as a means of learning. On the contrary, imagine a scenario whereby parents are frequently on the phone and neglect their parental duties. This will have long-term effects on the child’s development. The child might develop attachment issues and mimic his parents’ intense phone usage in the future.

    In short, the”development” or “disaster” role of technology would depend on the context where the child perceive how technology is being used.

    1. Hello rebec and thanks for the insight. You gave us a good example that complement our arguments in the article. I agree that nothing can be split into black-and-white certainties on whether it is good or bad. If I may add to your example, children can also learn about transferable skills (e.g., decision making) playing games that are not intended for learning. Nevertheless, without proper guidance, they may not learn anything at all even though it is a learning game.

      From what I can understand from your comment, parents have a greater control on children perception of technology (that in turn will affect its usage) than technology itself. This statement could not be more correct in my opinion. In the end, it is the children themselves that will decide whether to follow their parents influence or not in all sorts of things.

  5. Great article indeed !

    As mentioned above, technology could bring good and bad impacts on children. As for me, I believe that children should not be given freedom in using technology until certain age of concern. Parents should be the one who took the responsibility and look after the children no matter whether it is life learning or early education because I think at this early age, attention from their parents is the most needed by them. However, I do agree with all the advantages and benefits that technology can provide, but again the parents need to decide when is the right time to let their children have the access to technology.

    1. Hello, thank you for the comment and I 100% agree on your point about the usage of technology by children requires parents supervision. The problem is that it is difficult for parents to supervise their children all the time throughout the day, thus, came the invention of parental controls in current technologies. However, most parents are not aware about the existence of this feature and not utilise them to the fullest. Without the responsibility of the parents in monitoring their children in anything in the early years of their lives, there will come a time when their children will be doing some preventable mistakes.
      As for the allowable age to give children freedom in using technology, what do you think is the major factor in determining the age? Is it in the age alone, or something else?

  6. A highly controversial topic indeed.
    The outcome relies all on proper usage and handling, and like everything, the same goes for technology. Technology is highly regarded as the place for information, given it’s ease of access and limitless usage. With proper education, the benefits reaped by children would be endless. However, do take note that the opposite may also be true with improper usage. As such, it all boils down to parents execution and proper exposure to ensure children are able to develop along with technology instead of leading towards disaster.
    Given the right time and method, I strongly believe technology would provide aid in children’s development, not to forget the public in general also plays a role in this, providing children positive perception towards technology.

    1. Hi Kukumalu! Thanks for the comment. I totally agree with you that it is up to parents whether technology aids their children towards development or disaster. Parents should make time for their children no matter how busy they are with their career or other things to avoid technology leads their children becoming a disaster. Sadly, most parents these days choose to give gadgets to their children and let the screen media entertain their children without supervision, just because the parents are very busy. Regarding the public roles, yeah, parents alone playing the role to mitigate the risks that technology might bring to the children is not possible. Government, teachers, other family members etc. also should play a part in this matter.

  7. I find it interesting where you discussed the benefits and harms of the interaction between children and technologies. Based on your group initial decision on encouraging children to use technology, parental guidance is mandatory to restrict certain features that contain indecent or gory interfaces. However, in your arguments in the hidden flaws stated that there would be a lack of face-to-face interactions when children use technology excessively which means they will have less time spend with their families. Even now, some children do not obey or respect their parents and families. Would there be a time where it is considered a norm and ethical in terms of Kantz theory if children do not respect their parents anymore if they use technology excessively?

    1. Hi, thanks for the comment. Yes, I can’t deny the fact that some children nowadays have become rebellious and disrespect their parents and families, which one of the causes this situation happens is because of excessive exposure and improper usage of technology. It is the saddest thing if this situation becomes a norm and ethical. That’s why parents supervision and guidance are very important. Note that parents should do this from the moment they start exposing their children with technology, not in the middle when their children are difficult to be controlled. In a way, it can be a kind of family engagement when the parents monitor and guide their children along as they use technology.

  8. Interesting article. One thing I would like to highlight from your article is how dangerous it is to leave children to use technology on their own that might be filled with a lot of bad people with horrible intentions such as pedophiles. Kidnappings could also happen when there is insufficient monitoring on who the children communicates with via the technological device. I think the question of security is very important especially when children does not understand the danger their actions may cause. For this, I believe properly educating children on practicing safe technology use could possibly reduce this threat, but what other ways do you think could help?

  9. I completely agree with the notion that parents play a crucial role in making sure that the technologies are being used properly for the children. Excessive usage, pornography, cyber-bullying, gore and all the possible harms that technology could bring to the children, I also think that it should be the responsibility of the society as a whole to make a difference. Society as a whole should contribute, i.e. school educations, government regulations (the recent UK porn ban) and, of course, parent supervision.

    1. Hi Aidi, Thank you for your comment. It is interesting that you pointed out society as another important role that could help to solve this issue. as you could see in this new era, children are most likely to follow a common trend that’s happening in society either good or bad things. however, logically speaking, the root in society is started from a family which the head of them are the father and the mother. due to that, I think that parents still hold a very significant role in building up a good structural family and hence lead to a good community. and the idea of taking society as another role to help the children from using the technology wrongly, I would suggest that in every society, they could do some campaign or any activities that involving the children and the technology effectively.

  10. It was pointed out in your introduction that these parents are buying their children these devices either for the betterment of the child development or for the personal satisfaction of the parents themselves to prove their financial ability. I think this issue goes way beyond that. There are parents who doted on their child excessively, and give them anything and everything the child wants, there are also parents who are too busy to take care of their own child and buy these devices to keep them busy. We should not just boil the issue down to a no-brainer question. Regardless of the reason, it is undeniable that these technologies are both helping and destroying these young minds, as mentioned in the article.

    As some people might disagree, I personally think it is both the parents’ and the society’s (more on the parents’, in my honest opinion) responsibility to educate these future leaders about the importance of self-control. These children should be able to use these technology with prior knowledge of it being advantageous but destructive, if not handled properly.

  11. Nicely written!

    I do agree on parents play vital role in determining the impact of tech or gadget on children. There are parents use this as a gateway for them to be free so that they can take some time to rest or take a nap by letting the children to play with the gizmo. However, there are also who use it for educational purpose. It is very subjective.

    Therefore, it is important to spread the knowledge on safety, balance, and awareness regarding technology that we use currently with the parents so that they can practice it with their children. How much screen time is too much? How do we help our children achieve balance? Which cyber activities are the most beneficial, and which carry the greatest risks? These are some of the things that every parents should know the answer.

    Set some rules at home! Have at least some tech-free time as a family. Don’t allow smart phones at the dinner table, for example. In addition to tech-free time, have tech-free zones. Make this as a norm in our society. And the parents must follow the rules too! I’m sure this will create serve to create a more harmonious and balanced family and not just the children.

  12. The last two paragraphs of the Learning Through Technology section don’t identify an ethical theory, but there is one there.

    I’m surprised you didn’t include care ethics in your discussion. At the heart of this issue is the relationship between parent and child; parents (may) believe that providing their child with technology enhances their enjoyment of life as well as increases their future employment prospects. The child may see the given technology as evidence of parental affection. But what is the fundamental nature of this relationship between child and parent? Is it educational, whereby the child sees the parent as a template to form their own behaviours? Is giving a child a device to keep it distracted better than spending time with the child? And there is no reason why the child and parent can’t enjoy the technology together.

    1. Thank you for the comment Dr. Patrick Smith. In the last paragraph of learning through technology, we have included care ethics. However, the way that we interpret it might not be accurate, please correct us if we are wrong. What we believe in care ethics is the well-being relationship between two parties where parents as a care giver and children as the receiver.

      Yes, we believe that care ethics can be used to explain the entire argument of this as eventually it reflects on the relationship between parents and children. However, we also tried to define from a different ethical point of view as well. We will focus more on care ethics from now on.

      We believe that parents providing technology for children is with the intention of them learning. However, it might not work out as planned as parents do not guide them on how to use it which leads to children accessing negative contents, this is an example of parents uses technology to keep children distracted and expecting them to learn with them.

      Children and parents are encouraged to enjoy technology together. As explain, parents have to understand their role in providing proper guidance and support that would lead to better enjoyment of life and possibly future employment as well

  13. This is a great article on how does the technology could bring both advantages and disadvantages. I really love the part where you tried to have it nicely written without being bias to either side.

    Although, there are some parts where it could make certain people confuse. For an example, in the introduction paragraph, you stated that does the spending is necessary for the development or is it just for the parents to prove their financial stability? This statement showed that you want to prove which one is the real reason behind the spending for their children, but in the article, you just mentioned about the children development, but nothing about the parents’ ego/ financial stability. I know that it might just a statement, but it could lead to another expectation. Plus, I think that the spending has nothing related to the parents’ ego or financial related. It is sometimes just a way for the parents to distract their children from disturbing them while they are doing their work, or just to avoid the children from throwing a tantrum.

    Next, if we look at the advantages and disadvantages, I think that it is clearly stated what kind of advantages the children could obtain if they are using it in a correct way. But, one mistake or one careless session between the children and the technology, the worst nightmare for the parents could happen. Since this is more like a subjective matter, I think it is safe to say that it is all depends on the individual itself. Yes, the usage of technologies could help in children development, but I do agree that it requires the parents’ attention too. The technology is just a tool for the children to develop themselves but they require help and guidance from the parents.

    In overall, I guess that this matter is all depending on how they want to raise their children, and what is the risk they are facing. The knowledge of technology should be implemented at the early age, so that they are more exposed to the current issues and skills.

  14. Without a doubt, technology can have many benefits for children when used correctly and under supervision. The concern here is if the parents or guardians use it as a babysitter for their children because they don’t have the time or the interest in playing with their children. I totally understand the argument of using it as an educational tool, and even the infrequent use of it just to get a break so they can do some necessary things around the house. The problem comes with misuse and assuming that an environment filled with technology will prepare the children with the ability to whether the new and growing use of technology in the future.

    The bottom line is that too much screen time and not enough other activities, such as reading, playing games, and good old unstructured and imaginative play, will result in children having their brains wired in ways that may make them less, not more, prepared to thrive in this crazy new world of technology. Let children play with their toys, let them go outside, get their imaginations working, and it’s okay for them to get bored. They will learn how to play again. It’s good for them and builds their brains. 😀

  15. I think that playing computer games will greatly enhance the child’s cognitive abilities, however, playing too much computer games lead to a lack of social skills and an increase in impulsive behaviour. The number of children addicted to games like Fortnite is increasing at an alarming rate. Parents should not spoil their children by buying Xbox or PS4 for them. Children that are spoiled may develop a narcissistic personality and will usually demand instant gratification, they will be unable to cope when they deemed life is ‘unfair’ to them. I believe there are many ways to express love to our children.
    With proper parental guidance, the use of educational applications like Elevate – Apple’s app of the year 2014 and Khan’s academy as stated in the article will greatly benefit the child’s intelligence. However, this is dependent on the commitment that the parents are willing to give.

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