Elec­tronic de­vices should be used spar­ingly by chil­dren

North Penn Life - - Opinion -

Are you con­cerned that your chil­dren spend too many hours fix­ated on video games and smart­phone apps? Do you worry that your chil­dren are play­ing vi­o­lent games when they should be do­ing home­work?

How do you re­spond when your kids tell you that all their friends en­joy the chal­lenge of vi­o­lent games and their par­ents per­mit it?

Com­pared to a gen­er­a­tion ago, the elec­tronic gad­gets of to­day have re­sulted in ma­jor changes in young peo­ple. Chil­dren at age 2 to 4 years can press keys and turn on those de­vices even be­fore they’re old enough to walk and talk.

Many par­ents have be­come aware that elec­tronic de­vices are the new baby sit­ters and this has elim­i­nated messy crayons, col­or­ing books, and auto back seat por­ta­ble tele­vi­sion sets while pro­vid­ing heal­ing time for par­ent vo­cal cords that in the past be­came hoarse from yelling at their kids to stop fight­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to stud­ies, elec­tronic in­stru­ments that gen­er­ate mu­sic and even movies im­prove lis­ten­ing abil­ity and co­or­di­na­tion of eye­hand agility of chil­dren. Although the kids are as fast press­ing keys as Gary Cooper draw­ing his gun in the 1952 movie, “High Noon,” they are busy watch­ing and do not in­ter­act.

This has re­sulted in chil­dren of all ages be­com­ing over­weight or obese. Press­ing the keys of elec­tronic de­vices is a far cry from go­ing out­side to ex­er­cise. Out­door play­ing with peers re­duces ex­cess weight and im­proves health.

The most wor­ri­some neg­a­tive out­comes from ad­dic­tion to elec­tronic de­vices by chil­dren are those many hours press­ing the keys and the iso­la­tion that comes from their in­tense con­cen­tra­tion which de­creases time spent talk­ing to fam­ily and friends.

Th­ese kids are so ab­sorbed by their gad­gets, they con­sider con­ver­sa­tion by par­ents as an un­fair way to have them lose an elec­tronic game when they were just about to break a record. So­cial in­ter­ac­tion was a char­ac­ter­is­tic that ended with the last gen­er­a­tion.

A sig­nif­i­cant prob­lem in this elec­tronic gen­er­a­tion has devel­oped from vi­o­lent games. And it seems that boys are more at- tracted to th­ese than girls.

Some stud­ies have blamed the vi­o­lent games for ag­gres­sive be­hav­ior in chil­dren and lack of re­spect for the el­derly.

The fu­ture may be­come worse. Chil­dren now av­er­age seven hours a day watch­ing tele­vi­sion and us­ing elec­tronic de­vices. In fact, they watch tele­vi­sion and use the com­puter more than they use elec­tronic de­vices.

As the gad­gets be­come less ex­pen­sive and smaller, they will be ev­ery­where. We may be en­ter­ing a qui­eter world in which tex­ting re­places talk­ing or even cell­phone calls. No longer will par­ents have con­ver­sa­tions with their chil­dren. Sore thumbs will re­place sore voice-boxes.

Dis­cus­sions and de­bates will be a thing of the past. Most up­set­ting is the anger gen­er­ated by chil­dren who do not want to be in­ter­rupted by any of the mil­lion words in our English lan­guage.

There is a so­lu­tion to this prob­lem. Elec­tronic de­vices should only be used on car rides or other sit­u­a­tions in which mom or dad de­cides that “a child should be seen and not heard.”

This would bring back the ways of past gen­er­a­tions and would let a child know that some topics are be­tween adults only. We need those elec­tronic de­vices but a child also needs phys­i­cal ex­er­cise. We should in­volve chil­dren in fam­ily dis­cus­sions, ask for their in­put and keep them part of the “talk­ing” fam­ily.

Next Week: Read about “shoot­ing stars.” Meteors will be vis­i­ble at night with a peak of ac­tiv­ity on Thurs­day night and Fri­day morn­ing but vis­i­ble sev­eral nights be­fore and af­ter the peak on Thurs­day, Dec. 13, into Fri­day, Dec. 14.

Health & Sci­ence Dr. Mil­ton Fried­man

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