Children and their Internet usage is a common debate. It is a debate that has good points on both sides and as IT experts we are often asked for our point of view. The local media recently asked us to contribute to a piece they were working on and I wanted to share some of our points here – for you.
A survey released last year revealed the average number of devices being carried by a person in the UK was 2.7 devices. There is a strong belief that the growing number of gadgets in the home is dumbing down the children of today.
We believe it is possible that “valuable social skills” are being affected by the increasing time children spend on the internet compared to playing traditional play games and spending time outdoors.
The worry I have and would no doubt be shared by many others is the fact children are simply just consuming the content of the apps which have been created by others. The child isn’t creating the content so therefore in years to come will these children have grown up into adults and lack the ability to create their own idea or invention?
Will everything have to be ready-made and presented to them rather than being created by them? It’s a bit like a Lego set being presented as a ready-built castle rather than as a box of 50 pieces.
This content consumption has now found its way into our schools – I was talking to the principal of a Telford school two weeks ago and they are exploring the use of tablets and laptops with delivering educational content.
There are certainly advantages to this style of learning, but is there a hidden cost to this too?
The impact of children and their Internet usage on social skills
Twenty minutes per day is the recommended amount of time our children should be using technology gadgets but the majority of children are spending significantly more time than that and it is to the detriment of valuable social skills and psychological well-being of our children.
Psychologists debate the increase of psychological disorders labelled by some as “Internet Addiction Disorder”. In Asian counties it has been reported that people have died playing online computers for tens of hours at a time. Closer to home we see parents hand out iPads to keep their children quiet in restaurants.
Our children do not know any better, learning from the people and environment around them. It is therefore down to parents to take responsibility for their children and their Internet usage, monitoring the time being spent online or with electronic devices, and nurture essential social skills such as the ability to look people in the eyes and hold a conversation.