How technology is robbing kids of their childhood.
Digital technology is a bit of a bugbear of mine. I know we can’t go back and I know how reliant we have all become, but as parents it is imperative we make very conscious decisions about our children’s use. We must also set rules and enforce them even if these rules make us unpopular. Our kids may feel upset and be mad at us, but at least they will be safe. Children’s safety is paramount to most parents and measures MUST be taken to manage the risks posed by internet use.
My personal belief is that prolonging the abstinence of technology, phones and devices in fact protects childhood. I know some will say phone use is a necessity, and I don’t disagree, but the guidelines must be stringent. I’m not saying it is easy to do! It will be damn hard, but our kids are worth it!
There is nothing wrong with YouTube per se, but it does worry me as a parent the impact that it has on our kids. As a learning tool it is fantastic (you can literally learn how to do anything!) BUT as a form of entertainment, it’s a slippery slope I don’t want to expose my kids to, (both the content and the possible addiction to it). I find it too risky to ultimately place my child’s viewing in a stranger’s hands, to give a stranger access to my child’s brain! What is seen, cannot be unseen! It’s staggering to think how many hours a large proportion of our children are watching unsupervised, sometimes uncensored crap! The recent dangers with the “Momo Challenge” have highlighted just how easy it is for seriously damaging content to be thrust upon even our youngest most vulnerable minds. I won’t go into the depravity of those responsible for the production on these videos or the culpability of YouTube in permitting these to be broadcast, but I will say as a parent the safest option is to put a stop to the viewing before it is too late.
Apart from the dangers of these latest videos, babies watching adults playing with toys, kids watching others gaming, teen watching explicit materials, there are serious issues with all these youngsters viewing screens instead of experiencing real life!
The prolific viewing epidemic is further isolating our youth, there is a distinct disconnect from others with online friendships outnumbering real friends. Screens have replaced the need for friends and the opportunity to interact and physically play and communicate with others. Family time has been infiltrated by technology and we are rarely without our phones in any social setting. Social skills, empathy, compassion, conversation and sense of belonging are all at stake in the technology era. It is surprising just how many kids nowadays have a skewed view of popularity and success where an ambition to be a YouTube star or influencer, is revered rather than pursuing careers that are meaningful or provide value to society.
My boys are young and I have sheltered them from gaming and viewing. My eldest does have an iPad (he watches Netflix and plays some offline games), he’s allowed to use it on the weekend, never after dinner and it is only ever used in our living room. I have myself questioned whether I am in a way ostracising him from his peers or depriving him of IT skills, but the benefits of restricting his use and viewing outweighs these negatives so far. The pressure will most likely increase with age as my eldest becomes a teenager and I am bracing myself for it.