Ideally, you will choose one of the three issues researched to build a breadth and depth to the thinking you have already done in Assignment 1. You will investigate more thoroughly one of the five issues addressed throughout this unit. You will consider in depth how this issue relates to you in your current or future work with young children. This will include the positive and negative affects this issue has or might have on your practice and professional position (preferences and identity). Based on this consideration you will propose strategies for making changes in your service, classroom or other workplace in relation to this issue (real or hypothetical). That is, having identified that this is a complex issue and one that it is worthy of consideration, and relevant to you as an educator, you will suggest ways that you would retain, improve or implement strategies so that this issue was better understood and addressed by you and others.
Identify the relevance of the issue. Consider the impact you believe this issue has on you as an educator and on the broader early childhood profession, and on children and their families, and on the community. Write about how this issue might therefore raise questions for your care and education of young children (i.e. your practice) and questions about the impact on broader quality issues (i.e. your service, schools, classroom, policy, community etc.). Consider what are the benefits and the challenges to the implementation of this issue within your current workplace or future workplace. Given the relevance of this issue to quality care and education, what are the things that make it work, or not?
Impact of Technology on Children's Physical and Mental Health
Technology has altered the fabric of human interaction. Man is a social animal. The way we interact now is different from the way we used to before. It has affected the masses drastically but its effects on children have been incomparable (Plowman,2015). Children no longer play in the evenings, they are no longer engaged in activities like swimming, cycling, playing various sports, and many other such activities. There were days when children were more connected with nature. I can recollect spending my vacations either hiking with my family or going to the beaches. Nowadays even parents are not able to spend quality time with their children. Our lifestyle, after the advent of technology has taken a U-turn for the worse (Radesky, Schumacher & Zuckerman,2015) . I meet parents who complain that their child does not read storybooks, does not draw or participate in the extracurricular activities in school. My question to the parents is that do they read. I ask this because children tend to imitate us more than they tend to listen to us. They try to impersonate everything we do and that is how they learn and grow into young adults (Tizard et al.,2017). The impression they have when they are young gets ingrained in their minds when they reach adulthood. Thus, it is important for parents to conduct themselves in proper ways as the child will always notice them. In recent times, obesity rates in children have increased drastically (McDaniel, B.T. & Coyne,2016). This essay tends to discuss the adverse effect of technology on the mental and physical well being of children and how can it help the early childhood professionals and early childhood community address the issue broadly.
During the 90s and 80s when smart phones were not a trend, children played with toys, read Harry Potter, build puzzles, arranged the Rubik’s cube and played in the open air until it was too dark to go home. In this era of portrait photography, GPS navigation, WiFi connectivity, finger print lock and umpteen other advanced features children have easy access to mobile phones and other gadgets (Bredekamp,2014). Nowadays children play FIFA on their play stations and i-phones. Children today are highly tech savvy and prompt when it comes to using smart phones and computers. They own iPads, kindles, laptops and Xboxes (Beschorner, B., & Hutchison,2013). Things children see and people they interact with impacts them greatly. Research shows that children are becoming less creative and imaginative. Children no longer spend time outdoors. Tablets, mobile phones and other electronic devices emit blue light that is harmful of human beings especially young children. These rays cause headaches, eye strain, brain tumor and irritation in the eyes (Blackwell, Lauricella & Wartella,2014). When kids are too exposed to this blue light their melatonin level gets affected which in turn reduces sleep. Technology affects a child’s ability to think and feel (Buckingham & Willet,2013). Kids these days have a difficulty in concentrating on a particular thing and they also find difficulty in processing information (Kabali,2015).
Negative Effects of Screen Time on Children's Creativity, Imagination, and Cognitive Abilities
Children today think more superficially and lack depth in their thoughts. As kids spend more time with gadgets and electronic devices than their family members or peers, at later stages they find it difficult to interact with and socialize with people (Clark,2017). It also affects their emotional intelligence as kids tend to emote less while spending too much time playing video games. As they live in a virtual world, they lack the concept of reality and live in a bubble-wrapped reality. Thus, when these kids are confronted with tougher situations in life they find it difficult to cope up (Comer et al.,2013). The lack the knowledge and wisdom that is required to navigate through life. They are exposed to the “half truth” of the virtual world most of which is detrimental to the growth of the child. They start living in world full of fantasies and daydreams. Staying away from nature, real people and outdoor activities automatically reduces their cognitive abilities (Holloway, Green & Livingstone,2013). Children often lack the capacity to think, reason, reflect, and communicate. Technology hinders their growth in unthinkable ways. Parents should be careful and selective when it comes to giving technology to their children (Ernest et al.,2014). The social media is controlling each one of us. It commands our choices, perceptions, judgments, creating, innovating and acting to name a few (Dezuanni et al.,2015. Thus the brain gets wired in various ways that it otherwise should not.
Learning has taken a new dimension by digital media as it comes with audio, video, texts and graphic integrated social media applications (Mc Daniel, B.T. & Coyne,2016). Researchers believe that it is important for parents to limit the screen time of the child and it should be regulated at an early age (Heider & Jalongo,2014). It is believed that entertainment and learning applications especially developed for children can be beneficial at the preschool level. Though not all applications are beneficial for children as most applications have too many cartoons, sounds of bells and whistles, and meaningless content (McDevitt, T.M. & Ormrod,2013). Applications containing good content can help in the creative exploration of a child. Applications with features like e-books, interactive platform and gathering knowledge by active participation (Strasburger,2013). Technology that helps in developing children’s learning and vocabulary skills can enhance their diction and increase their stock of words. Some believe that easy access to all the information makes children lethargic, dependent, lack of tenacity and patience (Morey et al., 2013).
Impact of Technology on Children's Emotional Intelligence and Socialization
Being an early childhood teacher myself, I have come across children who spent a considerable amount of time on their computers and laptops at home. At this stage, children should be interacting socially more than spending time with their devices. Parents tell me that the only way to feed children is by allowing them to play games on their phones or tablets. As a result, children deviate from social interaction and exploration of the world around them. Children become introverts and shy away from interacting with people. This also leads to lack of self-esteem and self-confidence in them at later stages. Children these days tend to binge eat snacks and other unhealthy foods while playing video games or watching the television. This has increased the rate of obesity on young children rapidly. Too much of exposure to screens just before going to sleep have reduced sleep and altered sleep patterns not only in young children but also on adults. In fact, Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) is now common among young children too (Radich,2013). Bad posture, slouching and bone and muscle problems are increasing among young children. While checking answer sheets of children, I have found out that they face tremendous problem when they essays. This is due to the lack of social interaction and being disassociated with nature and surroundings. I find children in deep trouble when asked to generate their own ideas and thoughts. Parents come up to me and complain that their kids are engrossed with their phones and tablets. They fail to understand that it is they themselves, who have encouraged their child to play games and watch cartoons on the devices. For a child education begins at home. The child learns to play, talk, explore, and interact first at home than anywhere else. It is important for parents to choose the right modes of communication for children (Vasquez,2014). It is the discretion of the parents what they choose for their child. Parents should conduct themselves carefully in front of their children.
Mental health of children is suffering due to lack of exercises. Children are becoming dyslexic and suffering from sleep disorders due to over indulgence to screen time. Parents complain that children are irritated and cranky throughout the day. The American Society of Cancer reveals that the usage of such devices increases the risk of cancer among children. Cognitive development slows down in kids due to the exposure to electronic devices and can severely affect motor skills, visual skills and spatial skills. Doctors believe that children may find it easy to escape from reality to fantasy but actually, it can add on to their already existing depression. Moreover, children these days take everything for granted and think that every wish of theirs has to be fulfilled by their parents. Children are now ungrateful and self-centered. Today Google and Siri have all the answers to their questions. There are famous kids on YouTube who have more than a million views and subscribers on their channel. These kids are so over smart and mature beyond their age that they have lost their innocence. Parents also pressurize their kids to make money and create good content for the videos. Recently, there is a trend on social media applications like Facebook and Instagram that parents are creating pages on these social media platforms of their newborn babies. This leads to unrequired attention and publicity of the child at such a tender age. Social media also does not leave any scope for privacy in the child’s life. From a young age, they become victims of criticism, discrimination, competition and more. Parents often create a false image of the child on the social media sites to gain popularity. This in turn adds pressure to the kid as he or she may feel burdened by the constant scrutiny of the public.
Effects of Technology on Children's Sleep, Posture, and Obesity Rates
The early childhood educators and family member should be extra cautious when it comes to giving a secure and value oriented childhood to children. If kids are made to feel that the entire world revolves around them and everyone should fulfill their demands then kids will become selfish and ungrateful human beings. Parents should set the parameter right. Nowadays both the parents are going to work and as a result devoting less time to their children. Most parents enroll their kids at crèche or kindergarten preschools where the kids stay until evening until the parents return home from work. These preschools and playschools usually use electronic gadgets and television screens to keep the children engaged and in a good mood. Being exposed to technology for a considerable amount of time and not getting enough quality time with parents and family, results in peculiar characteristic traits and behavior pattern at later stages. Therefore, children do not understand organic relationships and cannot communicate with other people. The absence of parents also does not give the scope to develop a strong bond between the child and the parent. Thus, a child never feels the love, warmth and affection of the parents in the early childhood stages. It is of vital importance that the parents give more time to their children and involve them in every aspect of their lives. The child should feel wanted and loved in the household among his immediate family members.
An early childhood educator has to wear many hats when it comes to dealing with young children. It is important to see oneself as not only an educator or teacher but also someone they feel comfortable around. A teacher has to adopt to various means and take up many roles when understanding from a kid’s perspective. A teacher should drop the attitude of knowing everything. Instead, should also have the open mindedness of learning new things from the student. A teacher should keep a child engaged by providing interesting material and doing fun activities. Nurturing a child is a teacher’s main responsibility because it encompasses all the aspects of development, which includes cognitive, social, physical and emotional. An early childhood educator should also listen to the child. Even children have the need that somebody listens to them. It is only when this need does not get fulfilled that they seek unnecessary attention. An early childhood educator also communicates with many other people including the parents, staffs, general public and administrators. All of these people play a significant role in a child’s development. Thus, an early childhood educator should be well equipped with communicating with everyone. The teacher should not feel hesitant to ask questions, seek advice or feedbacks and share personal experiences. Teachers need to have a strong management skill as managing a classroom requires a great deal of organizational skills. Early childhood educators have a huge responsibility, as they are the ones who shape up the children in the formative years.
Importance of Limiting Children's Screen Time and Selecting Beneficial Applications
Something that the early childhood educators should focus on is the fact that children love vibrant and bright rooms. Hence, the classrooms or playrooms should be brightly colored so that the children find it attractive. Technology should be used inside the classroom but in a smart way. Screen time should be monitored and controlled by the early childhood educators. Children should be involved in activities like gardening and watering their own plant. This will help them in becoming more aware of the environment and make them responsible towards the same. It will also help them in staying close to nature. By watching a sapling grow into a plant, will help them developing qualities like resilience and patience. Story telling sessions, cooking without fire sessions, picnics and field trips will help in retaining their innocence and compassion. Technology should be used in making them more aware of the environment, society and their responsibility as a child towards their planet. All these should be integrated within the education system and not otherwise. Elocution and quiz competitions can also enhance their interpersonal skills and general knowledge. Parents should make sure that kids are more involved in the household activities and participate in decision-making roles actively. Once they understand that even they have a voice in the family, they will try to be more responsible and dutiful towards their family and peers. Children’s opinions should not be disregarded. This will only make them feel unwanted and useless. Their perspective and opinions should be valued. If they are wrong then it should be rectified but not overlooked as of it does not matter. Parents should try to decrease the generational gap wisely and not by screaming and shouting at their children.
To every problem, there is a solution. Similarly, in this case also there are plenty of remedies that the parents can easily adopt for developing a healthy relationship with their children. Firstly, parents should encourage the reading of books at an early age. In fact, parents should read books in front of their children to inspire them. Secondly, children should be involved in day to day household chores like cleaning, making their own beds, putting the plates on the table for guests and others, keeping the dishes in the sink, taking their pets out for a walk, playing both indoor and outdoor games with their parents, opening the door for everyone, going for morning walks with parents, taking part in a favorite sport game, cooking meals with the parents or taking baking classes – all these small but significant activities will actually develop their work ethics and character. It will also help in developing a realistic approach towards life.
Children, I believe are like clay and can be molded in any form. Hence, it is important to mold them in the right direction in their early childhood itself. One of the best ways to stop children from becoming a compulsive gamer is by deducting the screen time. Parents should keep the computer in the drawing area or in a public place so that they know how much time their kid is exactly spending on the computer. Smart phones and tablets encrypted with passwords can prevent children from using it frequently. Children are hooked to devices to deal with certain situations like stress, to fill a gap in their social or personal life, or to simply do away with boredom. Restricting children without providing an alternative can be fatal as they can become rebellious. Keeping children engaged with soccer practices, chess class, swimming class, an instrument class and other activities could help in keeping them away from electronic devices. Parents should be ready to deal with temper tantrums when they refrain their children from playing on the smart phones or iPads. In order to monitor the use of technology in the lives of the children, parents must take out tome to communicate, interact, play, travel and spend more quality time with their children.
Most parents are complaining today that their children are becoming compulsive gamers but what they need to understand is that ‘charity begins at home’. Technology is needed in every household, it cannot be avoided. Technology in moderation cannot be harmful. Excessive use can inevitably lead to sleep disorders, loss of appetite, binge eating, attention issues, and other vital problems. Parents should encourage more face-to-face conversations than video calling or chatting. Parents should make their children realize to use technology to enhance their creativity. Children must know the positive aspects of technology. Parents should teach their kids that self-worth is not based on the number of likes they get on Facebook or the retweets made on their Twitter handle. There is a world outside the virtual world of social media. The number of followers on Instagram do not define their self-sufficiency. It is often noticed that the posts on Instagram and Facebook attracts the viewers and they blindly believe everything sold on the internet. People choose to post only happy and glorious moments online thus creating a false impression that everything in their life is perfect. We tend to hide moments of pain, failure and defeat. This creates a bubble wrapped reality on the young minds. Thus, children as well as adults need more authenticity. Parenting mixed with positive attitude, humility, affection, stress management and proper guidance can go a long way. Parents should start teaching their children social skills from a very young age. For instance social skills like sharing their food with others, respecting others, caring for the needy, listening more than talking, respecting other’s feelings and perspective, helping others in whatever way possible and managing negative emotions, feelings and criticism. If parents take care of these things from an early age, then it would not be a problem at later stages.
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