Over the last few years, I have been speaking and writing about the challenge that technology poses to parents and really to all of us. And if you watch the news and visit various websites, you will see the growing concern on the part of parents and policy makers.
Perhaps you read about the Denver anesthesiologist Tim Farnum who has been on a crusade against smartphones. He is convinced they have turned his young sons into zombies. He says it made them moody and withdrawn. As a responsible parent, he has limited their time on them and discovered that his sons exhibited scary withdrawal symptoms equivalent to the withdrawals of a crack addict. You may have read that he wants a ballot initiative to make Colorado the first state to ban smartphones to pre-teen kids.
A study by Common Sense Media surveyed more than 1,700 parents of children age 8 to 18, who shared their perceptions of their kids’ engagement with media and technology. The parents did see some slight positives in terms of relationships with friends. And they also thought they saw a slight benefit in education.
On the other hand, they detected many problems. By a margin of three-to-one, they believed technology hurt their kids more than helped their kids with face-to-face communication, ability to focus, and behavior. By more than five-to-one, they all agreed that these devices have a harmful impact on physical activity. And they also by a lower margin believed that heavy screen time hurt emotional health more than it helped.
These and other stories should be a reminder to us that we need to set an example for our children and grandchildren. If we are addicted to technology, then we shouldn’t be surprised that they become addicted to the same technology. Also, we should work to protect them from the negative aspects of smartphones and social media. Young people spend too much time in front of a screen.