CHILD DEVELOPMENT AND THE INTERNET TUTORIAL: WEEK 12
Assignment: Read articles:
1) “What Children Think of the Internet (and Why It Matters)”
2) “Many Children Under 5 Are Left to Their Mobile Devices, Survey Finds”
3) “The American Academy Of Pediatrics Just Changed Their Guidelines On Kids And Screen Time”
4) “Relax. The Internet isn’t destroying your kid’s brain.”
5) “Hey parents, children and iPads are a bad mix”
Guiding Question: Should parents take initiative to control their child’s screentime?
Response: In articles targeting parents of children and adolescents who use the internet, many claim that the internet is purely a bad influence on children while some say that it doesn’t hold detrimental effects. However, current research has found that,
“Seventy percent of the parents reported allowing their children, ages 6 months to 4 years old, to play with mobile devices while the parents did housework, and 65 percent said they had done so to placate a child in public” (Louis “Many children under 5…”)
Basically the technology serves as a form to occupy the child and take care of them. It’s serving as a substitute for parents who may be busy. Yes, parents may be busy, but they could still have their children play with something or find some other activities if they don’t want them exposed to the internet. By giving the technology to children in such cases, it would not be a surprise if they gradually used the internet more as they grew up. The idea that it’s also used to placate a child would only cause the child to think that they can use their tantrums as a method to get the internet. They could use the parent’s annoyance against them to get what they want, which would just promote negative behavior in order to use the internet.
We even have to consider how the times have changed, when now so many children have their own smartphones, while they used to be lucky to get a flip-phone just to call their mom. “According to a nationwide survey by Common Sense Media, 72 percent of children 8 or younger used a mobile device in 2013, for example, compared with 38 percent in 2011” (Louis “Many Children Under 5”). That’s a drastic increase in the use of smartphones over a short period of time. Parents don’t necessarily have to give their children the newest version of the iPhone and could simply give them something simpler. That way, the children won’t be so focused on their phone. Part of this addiction to smartphones seems to come from parents buying children smartphones. It may be that it’s too much of a change (occurred too quickly) so they can’t adapt. Perhaps introducing a simpler phone and other types of technology would help children’s interaction with the technology. It’s important that the parent makes sure the child isn’t receiving too much information too quickly in a society where we know internet plays a big role.
Take into consideration that the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) has changed their previous policy. It used to be that children under two years old are not to be exposed to the internet. However, they changed it because “‘In a world where ‘screen time’ is becoming simply ‘time’ […], our policies must evolve or become obsolete”’ (“The American Academy Of Pediatrics Just Changed Their Guidelines On Kids And Screen Time”). We have always been afraid of new technologies. We were scared of the radio and of romantic novels, yet now they’re widely accepted now. The AAP is finally acknowledging that technology, including the internet, is already a huge part of people’s lifestyles, and in a place where the technology is already accepted, they can’t simply take it away or tell people not to use it at all. Instead, they’re trying to simply have parents monitor their kids’ time exposure and the type of content that’s seen. According to , one of the points the AAP makes is that:
“It’s OK for your teen to be online. Online relationships are integral to adolescent development. Social media can support identity formation. Teach your teen appropriate behaviors that apply in both the real and online worlds. Ask teens to demonstrate what they are doing online to help you understand both content and context” (“The American Academy Of Pediatrics Just Changed Their Guidelines On Kids And Screen Time”).
Many parents simply see social media as an addiction, and while using it excessively cannot be healthy, as the the AAP suggests, a moderate amount should be okay, especially if it’s necessary to support your identity formation. Identity is partially made up of connections, which are often enforced online. To completely deprive your child of this identity component, would not necessarily help their social skills that are often used online. There’s often some sort of blurred line between the digital and real world, so they could just help in helping their kids understand the differences between them and what sorts of behavior is appropriate.
It seems particularly interesting how the children. It seems that a lot of the concerns of internet use amongst children and adolescents can be solved if parents actively take part:
“Co-engagement counts. Family participation with media facilitates social interactions and learning. Play a video game with your kids. Your perspective influences how your children understand their media experience. For infants and toddlers, co-viewing is essential” (“The American Academy Of Pediatrics Just Changed Their Guidelines On Kids And Screen Time”).
Parents often fear that their child’s social skills won’t be fully developed if they ignore human interaction and spend all their time online, however, this can be solved by the parents actively taking part in their child’s media exposure. Like the AAP suggests, playing a video game with your kids and the way you interact with it influences how they react to the same media. Children have a tendency to mimic and often have similar beliefs to their parents, so if you show disgust to a game that is violence, your child may mimic that behavior. In general, parents are still role models to their children, so taking part seems to be a good way to prevent the problems associated with children and the internet.
The internet is just a newer technology just like the radio as previously mentioned. Just like the radio was accepted, it is possible that so will the internet. It is a case of adaptation:
“Moreover, we are learning that our brains adapt to new social worlds, too: As tweens and teens use the Internet and video games to connect with friends, their social brains are adapting quickly to this new environment. Remember, humans adapted and thrived in many different habitats and climates over thousands of years; as the digital natives continue to develop, so will their ability to adapt successfully to the online environment” (Uhls “Relax. The Internet isn’t destroying your kid’s brain”).
If an online environment is a case of adaption, should we simply choose to adapt? At the same time, however, just because you’ve adapted to an environment does not mean that it’s necessarily good for you. It’s more of a case where you’re forced to adapt in order to stay in the system. School activities and communication with friends are starting to depend on the internet more. Things that were more “traditional” before have been incorporated into the internet, so in order to take part in them, you must accept internet with it as well. In this sense, parents should not simply accept it as an adaptation to the environment. However, it may be that there’s nothing else that they can do, but accept the technology. That’s why not many people are saying not to ever use the internet, but rather mediating it.
There are still many sociologists that still focus on the negative aspects of technology:
“Indeed, one of the most important aspects of child development is pretend play […] ‘But as one teacher at a Waldorf School (a model that uses no technology) explained to me, kids who are mirroring the play they see on screens — pretending to be Dora, for example — play for shorter amounts of time and their play is ‘not as deep”’ (Riley “Hey Parents).
It’s important for children to develop their creativity and imagination from an early age.
Children who just mirror Dora are not creating their own character, but rather just reenacting it. While this does seem to be bad for child imagination and creativity, they still choose a way to portray the character. In Broadway musicals, many people may play a certain role, but they each may interpret and portray the character in a certain way, so in a way they’re still using their interpretation and imagination to really understand the character they’re portraying. I think the same goes for children when they play pretend. Yes, their character may not be as original, but they’re still interpreting it in their own special way. They’re still pretending to be a certain character which is an important aspect of “pretend play”.
Now, comes the question of the content that children are exposed to and how helpful it is for children’s growth:
“Most children this age judge computers to be good at providing facts, but much less useful for making moral judgments. On the other hand, research suggests that children are not great at evaluating the information they get online; one study found that most fifth and sixth graders assumed all the information they found on the Internet was true” (“What Children Think” Richler).
This information is worrisome. Children need to understand that not all information on the internet is true. This is a problem especially seen in elementary school. I personally mainly learned what a reliable source is in highschool, which may be considered late. In elementary school, my class would cite Wikipedia which is not a reliable source and sometimes contains false information. We trust the internet in giving us facts, but without the proper education, it may just end up leaving up misinformed. However, this problem could also still be solved with giving children the proper education on what a reliable website is. Also, brings up another important point:
“Dr. Danovitch is exploring whom children are more likely to trust if they get conflicting information from a person and the Internet. This has real-world implications: If children realize that Google knows things Mom and Dad don’t, will they trust the Internet over their parents? (“What Children Think” Richler).
I feel that to some extent, we actually do trust what the internet says more than our parents. We’ll often tell our parents they’re wrong and actually show them a site that proves them wrong. Children know that there parents are people, but they don’t tend to focus on the fact that the information found online is often constructed by people as well.