Some time ago, children grew up in the open air. Childhood signified long hours of playing hide and seek, jumping, running and chasing each other. The environment, in which youngsters grow up today, has changed. Computers have come to the scene.
Children increasingly spend time indoors, playing computer games and browsing. Is spending so much time in front of the computer really beneficial for youngsters?
The Main Debate
Scientists have long been involved in a debate about the benefits and risks related to the use of computers by young kids. Advocates of the idea claim that educational software will stimulate the intellectual development of infants.
Others believe the exact opposite. An essay published in Focus on Infants & Toddlers states that the use of educational software is potentially harmful. “The minute we introduce an artificially engaging stimulus with fast-paced visuals, startling noises, silly scenarios, and easy excitement, the brain is diverted away from its natural developmental tasks,” educational psychologist Jane Healy said.
What are the Health Problems?
University of California academics warn that computer usage over long hours could lead to some health problems in young children.
The harmful screen emissions strain the eyes and could cause some eyesight problems. Enjoying a computer is a sedentary activity. As a result, it might lead to obesity. In some extreme cases, computer games replace all types of physical activity so needed for the proper growth of the young organism.
The Alliance for Childhood came out with a statement concerning health dangers related to time spent in front of the PC by children. One of the conditions that could be related to excessive computer usage is repetitive stress injuries. It occurs whenever too much stress is placed on a single joint. Such stress is exercised during computer usage and playing video games.
Too Much Time on the Computer: Emotional Hazards
Computers have long been accused of affecting human social relations. People get so used to virtual communication that some might feel uncomfortable about face-to-face meetings.
Imagine getting used to virtual communication at a very young age. Children prefer skype-ing instead of going out. Many children grow up to be asocial, simply because the virtual reality replaces actual human relations in the real world.
Furthermore, children are exposed to all types of influences online. Immense amount of information is available, making youngsters grow up too fast and learn the facts of life from the wrong medium.
Excessive dependence on online communication can also affect family relations and the connections that children develop with other children. Naturally, the environment in which a child grows plays important role. Parents should do their best to encourage offline encounters. They should also work on open and friendly family environment so that children ask questions instead of searching for information online.
How to Protect Your Child
Many parents find it easy to use the computer as their own substitute. It takes away some of their duties and gives children the answers to most really uncomfortable questions without blushing and feeling uneasy.
Educating a child is a difficult and time-consuming process, in which the role of the computer should be minimized.
When buying a computer for your kid, go for the special laptops and software developed for children. Special child browsers have been created to limit the access of youngsters to potentially dangerous websites. Consider carefully the needs of your child before purchasing a computer.
Limit the amount of time your child spends in front of the computer. Encourage outdoor activities by playing with your kids and taking them for walks. Buying a pet might be a good idea to keep your child occupied and interested in outdoor activities.
Computer games should be limited. They have the power to turn a child into a computer addict. Try to postpone the introduction of games for as long as possible. Once you decide to grant your child access to those, read game reviews carefully and try to find the types of entertainment that would be educational, as well. Refrain from purchasing games that feature violence and that encourage aggressive behavior.