iBaby: Children of the Future

When Child Meets Tech

Do you remember your early years as a toddler? Some might say they do, others probably won’t. Thanks to technology, this will not be a problem for future generations. We can capture moments using our smartphones and cameras at any given time. Perhaps one day you can show your child exactly what he/she was like as a baby. Sounds good, doesn't it?

We surround ourselves with technology and, like with every other aspect of our lives that technology affects, it is also affecting children. Many parents are already aware of this and passively ignore the situation. What many don’t realize is that it is REALLY important to everyone because children are our future.

AH, It’s New Technology!

With every new innovative technology comes fear of its harmful effects on people, especially on children. As history shows, adults were afraid that these inventions would become addictive, dangerous, and change the way we think.

“Radio was so addictive, parents warned, that children were skipping meals to tune in, and film transformed viewers into sexually deviant criminals. Television was a mental wasteland. Video games created violent killers.”

Looking back at these times, we laugh at the pandemonium that we caused and shrug it off as something funny. Well, we shouldn't be disregarding these events because we are in fact living a similar outburst. With the radio, film, and television, these gadgets were a form of passive consumption. Gadgets we use today such as smartphones, tablets, computers, and video-games are forms of active consumption. The latter is not only more common nowadays, but also has significantly more effects than the former.

This difference between active and passive consumption is essential in recognizing technology’s effect on children. Not only are the gadgets our children use changing, but also the way they use them.

Baby, meet iPhone

In the article “Is technology scrambling my baby’s brain” by Ben Popper, Ben describes his situation regarding his newborn son using technology for the first time. Like any other baby, Ben’s son, Oliver, kept wailing and would not stop. An act of desperation led Ben to grab his iPhone and flip through digital comics alongside his newborn son.

Both Ben’s mother and his wife are appalled by this scene, something many parents would not allow. They argue that using a phone would damage Oliver’s brain and turn him into a “vegetable.” This very reaction is one that would have occurred had a baby been exposed to television in the 1950's.

When I bounced him on my lap and surfed the web, was that like second-hand smoke for his fragile young brain?
Oliver sure loves his iPad, maybe even a bit too much...

Ben argues that giving his son access to technology at an early age enables him to learn more skills, ones that could be useful in the future. In Ben’s words: “Learning to love technology, to build and to code, are the best skills I can give to prepare him for a bright future.”

I couldn't agree with this even more. Nowadays, simply being able to understand code is something that everyone should learn. Technology is advancing quickly but we should be able to direct where it goes. With the infinite ways to use technology, children should be exposed to this digital world. They can improve cognitive, language, and learning skills with the use of modern tech. However, there are very serious precautions parents should take. It can be very easy for a child to learn how to navigate the Internet, a place with things you might not want your child to see. This is why parents should monitor what their child does and when they get older, discuss their online activities.

In the end, there are many ways technology can help children develop. Whether we want them to become addicts is a tough responsibility. This new form of interactive media is fairly new and until we understand it’s effect on us, we should care about its effect on children. We can either choose to program or be programmed.

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