Electronic devices should be used sparingly by children
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