From social media to video games, increasingly more technological offerings are fighting for your kids’ attention these days. The growing presence and accessibility of technology in children’s lives, from their very first year through their teenage years, is a double-edged sword. How technologies are applied and how children are exposed to and use them can either be positive or negative.

The negative impact of technology on children

Technology is everywhere and we cannot ban it entirely. However, we can set limits for our kids to avoid some of the negative effects. Too much time in front of screens can affect your child’s physical health and everyday behaviour. Let’s take a closer look at some of the negative effects of technology on children:

  • Shorter attention span

The fast-paced switching of content that today’s technology provides can adversely affect children who are constantly exposed to it. Between TV, social media, and the internet, children’s brains are learning how to instantly switch between different and often unrelated events and information. Their developing brains get wired to multitask to such a degree that they find it challenging to focus on just one task or thought.

  • Problems developing social skills 

Constant use of technology as a way of interacting can hinder the development of key social skills. These skills are mastered through daily physical interactions, and the overuse of technology displaces time spent in social interactions.

  • Reduced sleep quality 

Studies show that there is an association between screen-based device use, especially at night, and sleep quantity, quality and increased total sleep disturbance. This is often due to overstimulation, which can lead to enhaced irritability and anxiety. 

  • Increased risk of depression 

Experts believe that excessive time spent using technology can be tied to increased depression. Children who report more time spent using media are more likely to report mental health issues. This has lead to more youth needing mental health interventions like counseling and medicine. 

The positive impacts 

While there are many negative effects that can be connected to the use of technology for children, there are many positive impacts too.  

  • There are educational elements to technology that can help children learn. 
  • Technology can help children learn how to make decisions and solve problems. 
  • Technology can also help children connect more with family and friends. Especially in difficult times like we’ve seen with the worldwide lockdowns.

The key is taking charge of technology use

Parents can help children get the benefits of technology and avoid the negative effects by setting appropriate boundaries, such as time limits and modelling good smartphone use. It’s also important to include lots of face-to-face interactions with technology, and make sure that tech use doesn’t interfere with opportunities to play