Islamabad-Technology is a blessing for most.  However, those who have become addicted to the screen may find it despairing. Progress in the technological field is fast and results are beyond imagination. At present, technology is penetrating the lives of many, most heavily on the younger population of people.  It’s worth mentioning how quickly toddlers have become screen slaves and how excessive usage affects millions of lives of all ages. The effects of using technology at a young age hamper the mental and physical growth of our future generations.

At present, on average, children spend approximately six to seven hours a day staring at multiple screens simultaneously. For instance, watching TV while playing games on tablets or staring at a smart phone screen.

Gadgets are moulding the lives of children and parents are finding it more difficult to curb this ever increasing activity. It was estimated that nearly one in four teenagers are constantly online without any reason, as their lives are swallowed up by their smart phones. Parents of such children find it extremely difficult to monitor their child’s online behaviour as more than 70 per cent of teens use more than one social media network. Among teens, Facebook is the most used social network, as revealed by ‘The Pew Research Centre’. A smart phone user may check his mobile on average more than 150 times a day because they are unable to distance themselves.

Despite undeniable advances made in the technological field, 80 per cent of psychologists and academics were complaining about the poor coordination of children. According to the child development experts, there is a parallel increase in the medicine for children facing attention deficit issues, with the increasing exposure to the handheld gadgets.  In addition, massive research explored intricate ties between excessive screen usage with mental disorders, obesity, depression, underachieved academics and poor social coordination.

According to a recent research conducted, 10 per cent of children under the age of four go to sleep while playing games on tablets. Furthermore, studies revealed families are developing a norm or a status symbol to provide their under-age children with a tablet, ignoring its adverse effects. Even now, branded baby shops are selling customized “apptivity seats”, which features a place to put tablet PC. Ironically, Apple co-founder [Steve Jobs] did not allow his children to have an IPad; a home invention, personally fearing it would be disastrous for his children. 

At present, children have less access to the recreational facilities, are more restricted in their movement, and indulge themselves in the fantasy world of games. They are no longer learning how to be humans and are much less likely to play and are lacking crucial social skills and abilities. Parents are also finding it difficult to wean their children off of using their devices.  The American Academy of Paediatrics prohibits screen time for children under the age of two and a maximum of two hours a day. There is an evident link to technology and the response of the brain when it is overused. Scientists have concluded that the part of the brain that controls the imaginative and social skill response is not fully developed in young toddlers and children who spend too much time with technology. A solution to this problem may be the incorporation of real play with children.  Real play helps to develop initiative, problem-solving skills and also allow them to gain physical skills. Finding how to learn from their mistakes, picking themselves up when tripped and sorting out squabble with playing friends. Thus, helping children to build confidence and making them more emotionally resilient. In addition, the children get together at playing areas may improve their social skills and satisfy their desire to understand how the world works. This step is vital for mental health, especially in our high-pressure world.

However, if the use of technology continues down the path of overuse, a whole new generation of people might experience declines in their socio-emotional, cognitive and intellectual growth.