The use of technology by children and adolescents spans many different activities, at school and in the home environment. This technology is available in many forms, including computers, smartphones, video gaming systems, and other devices. In many cases, these technologies offer significant benefits in the form of expanded learning and cognitive development. However, in other cases, these technologies are limiting and are often addictive, thereby impacting their lives in a negative manner. Therefore, a balance must be drawn that will encourage children and adolescents to use technologies wisely and in moderation in order to improve outcomes.
In today’s society, adolescents and children depend on technology in different forms throughout many areas of their lives. Technology is a key component of daily living, whether it is through the use of a computer, a cell phone, an iPod, an iPad, or a gaming device. Children and adolescents depend on these resources as a form of survival and communication with their friends and family members. Therefore, it is important to identify these devices and how they have been integrated into daily living in different ways. In addition, it is important to identify the specific areas in which the utilization of technologies have impacted children and adolescents and how they view their lives because these devices are important contributors to the development of this group in both positive and negative ways. The following discussion will address technologies for children and adolescents in greater detail and will emphasize the importance of different areas, such as social media, and their impact on this group. In addition, various products will be addressed that are popular with children and adolescents in order to signify the importance of these devices for this population.
The utilization of various technologies for children and adolescents is commonplace throughout society, as this group depends on these devices as part of their routine daily living. This dependence has emerged gradually over the past decade to the degree that many children and adolescents are largely dependent on these devices in all aspects of their daily lives. Children use their smart phones to talk to friends and family members, to listen to music, to text, to browse the Internet, and to play games, amongst other functions. In addition, smart phones such as Apple’s iPhone represent the greatest evolution of cellular technology that exists to date. From this perspective, this device can function in many different ways to accommodate the needs of children and adolescents throughout the world. However, children in advanced countries such as the United States are significantly impacted by these devices and their ability to serve multiple purposes. However, these children often become dependent to the point that they are unable to focus on the important areas of their lives, such as school and homework. This is a problematic circumstance in that children depend on these devices to the degree that they cannot easily live without them. This is an issue that must be addressed not only by parents, but also by teachers in school settings.
Social networking is a key component of technology that has captivated children and adolescents alike. This type of service would not be available without the various technology-based portals that are available that offer social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, amongst others. Furthermore, these offerings are contributors to the development of today’s children and adolescents in different ways. For example, “Because of their limited capacity for self-regulation and susceptibility to peer pressure, children and adolescents are at some risk as they navigate and experiment with social media. Recent research indicates that there are frequent online expressions of offline behaviors, such as bullying, clique-forming, and sexual experimentation, that have introduced problems such as cyberbullying, privacy issues, and “sexting.” Other problems that merit awareness include Internet addiction and concurrent sleep deprivation” (O’Keeffe and Clarke-Pearson, 2011). Under these conditions, it is important to identify areas where children might be easily influenced by social networks because these are instrumental in shaping their lives when they have unlimited access to these networks (O’Keeffe and Clarke-Pearson, 2011). These developments demonstrate the important impact of social networking and its integration into technology-based resources, and how these impact the development and growth of many children (O’Keeffe and Clarke-Pearson, 2011).
An article by Subrahmanyam et.al (2000) addresses similar objectives in regards to technologies and their impact on childhood development and notes that “Many computer applications, especially computer games, have design features that shift the balance of required information-processing, from verbal to visual. The very popular action games, which are spatial, iconic, and dynamic, have things going on at different locations. The suite of skills children develop by playing such games can provide them with the training wheels for computer literacy, and can help prepare them for science and technology, where more and more activity depends on manipulating images on a screen” (Subrahmanyam et.al, 2000, p. 13). From this perspective, it is important to identify the different areas in which there is potential for significant visual and/or spatial development by playing computer games that require these types of skills (Subrahmanyam et.al, 2000). These efforts demonstrate that it is important to identify the different areas where technologies might be beneficial in the form of cognitive development for children and adolescents (Subrahmanyam et.al, 2000).
The utilization of technology-based resources by children and adolescents is also indicative of the potential growth and maturity of these individuals in different settings. In some cases, it is believed that technology is an effective method of expanding development through brain stimulation and recognition, while others argue that technology is a disservice to learning because it prohibits true progress from being made (Elkind, 2003). With these examples, it is important to identify specific areas that rely upon the challenging nature of technology and its integration into the lives of children, while also considering how it might limit growth if the brain is overstimulated (Elkind, 2003). These contrasting viewpoints are important because they provide further evidence of the continued discussions regarding the impact of technology on childhood development and the areas where research is not yet fully developed to draw effective conclusions regarding this practice (Elkind, 2003).
For many children and adolescents, the use of the Internet can be an important and effective tool in supporting their growth and development in different ways. However, the essential unlimited freedom that the Internet brings may also be detrimental to many individuals, particularly when their use of the Internet is not closely monitored or evaluated on a regular basis (Yan, 2007). In addition, it is important to develop a successful Internet safety training program or protocol that will positively impact children and adolescents to better accommodate their learning needs: “an effective Internet safety program must explain how the Internet works. Students should understand the Internet’s potential as a powerful learning tool and realize why certain activities can be unsafe. They need to develop a good immune system through gradual exposure to the unfiltered Internet. Meanwhile, parents and teachers must help children learn appropriate responses to potentially harmful online experiences” (Yan, 2007, p. 1). In this context, it is necessary to identify the different perspectives that are relevant in shaping outcomes for children who use the Internet on a regular basis (Yan, 2007). Therefore, an effective training program represents a means of encouraging children and adolescents to ask questions regarding the Internet and what they might find when they are in browsing mode (Yan, 2007). From this perspective, children must recognize that they must be able to ask questions regarding their experiences on the Internet and how it impacts their lives (Yan, 2007).
In some respects, the continued availability of technologies for many children and adolescents further divides those with access versus those without these resources (Yan, 2007). Therefore, it is necessary to consider what is commonly known as the digital divide, whereby “students who fall on the poor side of the social digital divide will be unprepared for real Internet and virus threats. When children advance physically, cognitively, and socially, they need a scaffolding to wean them off the totally filtered Internet and on to a partially real Internet. They then will enter the real world with stronger virtual immune systems” (Yan, 2007, p. 2). This is an important perspective to consider because it reflects a means of expanding access for those students who might not have access in the home environment, such as the poor or impoverished (Yan, 2007). This population group is likely to significantly benefit from the resources that the Internet has to offer, and therefore, should be provided with the appropriate level of access to accomplish these objectives (Yan, 2007).
For technology as a whole, it is critical to establish a greater understanding of the different elements that contribute to effective outcomes for children and adolescents. In some ways, technology that is integrated into each and every part of a child’s life may be unsafe because it prohibits real progress from being made and also limits the capacity for students to learn their required lessons if they are distracted by the other aspects of technology that may be more fun and playful, such as games and social networking (PRLog, 2010). For many children, the utilization of too much technology is a serious distraction and allows them to withdraw from social activities in many situations:” These negative effects are caused primarily by the tendency to withdraw from social interaction, withdrawal from society in general, a lack of exercise – even vitamin deficiencies resulting from lack of sunshine” (PRLog, 2010). These efforts are challenging yet important in the development of children and adolescents who face significant distractions throughout their lives as a result of technology (PRLog, 2010). Therefore, it is important to evaluate the different approaches to technology that children experience and how these impact their lives in both positive and negative ways (PRLog, 2010).
The creation of a successful approach to managing the influence of technology in the lives of children and adolescents also requires an effective understanding of the degree of technology-based integration into their lives. Technology-based resources are necessary in many ways for children in order to promote their learning growth and development; however, they may also have a negative influence in some cases if they are taken for granted or abused in any way. Children and adolescents who abuse technology in the form of overuse are more likely to experience limited social interaction and other negative outcomes that could be prevented if their use of technology was limited by their parents and teachers. As a result, it is important for these influences to pay attention to their children and to recognize when technology has transformed from a good influence to a bad influence in their lives.
Children and adolescents are impacted by the use of technology as an educational resource in the classroom setting. Perhaps the most concise view of technology in education is that “It cannot be expected for children to learn the same way as previous generations if they are expected to stay ahead in this fast paced world…Children today can use technology as a supplement with traditional education, not as a replacement. The proper mix of these two elements can give children all the benefits of a modern education without requiring much training for children. When using modern technology, children pick it up at amazing speeds” (Hatch, 2011, pp. 5-6). Under these conditions, it is important to determine how to integrate technology into the classroom setting without using it as a crutch or an alternative to classroom instruction as given by the teacher (Hatch, 2011). Therefore, a balance must be drawn that will encourage the development of new perspectives and approaches that will facilitate successful results so that children and adolescents learn from the use of technologies, but they are not overused or taken advantage of in the classroom and even in the home environment when homework is required (Hatch, 2011). This balance is critical because it reflects a means of using technologies wisely in school, but not using them to the extent that no other type of teaching technique is used (Hatch, 2011).
For children and adolescents, technology is likely to be beneficial to stimulate their minds and to promote creative thinking because there are significant advantages to this practice. Technology is available in many forms and should support the ongoing development of critical thinking skills, as well as creativity in children and adolescents. Computers, iPads, iPhones, and even some games are likely to provide benefits to children and adolescents when they are used wisely and with a specific purpose in mind. These efforts allow teachers in schools and parents in the home environment to recognize the benefits of these tools and how they positively impact the lives of these children and adolescents in different ways. It is expected that the utilization of technology must be carefully integrated into the classroom setting and into homework assignments in order to accomplish the desired results.
For children and adolescents, it is important to consider how technology is integrated into their home lives. In some cases, the dependence on technology is stifling and crippling for these individuals if they do not allow themselves to shine and to be successful in their own right. Therefore, when technology is overused, it may be devastating to the learning potential and growth of children and adolescents. In other cases, the appropriate amount of care and attention is paid in balancing the impact of technology in the lives of these children, and therefore, their development is well-rounded and appropriate for their age. It is important for parents to recognize these issues and to take them seriously in an effort to produce successful outcomes and optimal growth and development within this group. The efforts that are made by parents to improve the lives of their children through the limitation of technology when it becomes too significant is an important step towards the development of new ideas and opportunities to facilitate learning, creativity, and improved socialization as necessary.
Technology has become a critical need in the lives of many people, including children and adolescents. The efforts that are made to utilize technology in different settings are commendable in many ways because they offer many resources to children and adolescents that were not available in the past. Therefore, it is important to identify these resources and to take the steps that are necessary to effectively integrate technologies into the lives of this group. At the same time, the utilization of these technologies must also be limited if there is evidence of excessive use to the degree that it interferes with school-related activities and normal socialization. Parents and teachers must recognize the influence of technology on children and adolescents in order to determine if this impact is excessive and must be reduced. Nonetheless, the importance of technology cannot be undermined and should be reflective of the benefits that these offerings provide to their lives, both in school and in the home environment. For children and adolescents, it is more important than ever to recognize the advantages and disadvantages of technology and to integrate these principles into daily living in such a way that they will positively impact outcomes for this group. It is expected that these practices will be relevant in shaping the development of new strategies to use technology wisely across a variety of different settings.
Elkind, D. (2003). David Elkind: technology’s impact on child growth and development. Retrieved from http://www.cio.com/article/29797/David_Elkind_Technology_s_Impact_on_Child_Growth_and_Development
Hatch, K.E. (2011). Determining the effects of technology on children. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.uri.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1212&context=srhonorsprog
O’Keeffe, G.S., and Clarke-Pearson, K. (2011). The impact of social media on children, adolescents, and families. Pediatrics, 127(4).
PRLog (2010). The negative effect of too much technology on kids and teens – Author John Crippen offers a solution. Retrieved from http://www.prlog.org/10602722-the-negative-effect-of-too-much-technology-on-kids-and-teens-author-john-crippen-offers-solution.html
Subrahmanyam, K., Greenfield, P., Kraut, R., and Gross, E. (2001). The impact of computer use on children’s and adolescents’ development. Applied Developmental Psychology, 22, 7-30.
Yan, Z. (2007). Children and the Internet. Retrieved from http://www.doe.virginia.gov/support/technology/info_briefs/children_internet.pdf