From what I can remember from my childhood activities, a large chunk of my life was spent with my Playstation 2 and Nintendo DS. To my credit, I lived in a very small town that had almost nothing in it besides our local post office, so I was very bored most of the time and had nothing to do besides entertain myself with technology.
But that eventually ran its course because I also remember running around my small town with my best friend and getting into all sorts of childlike mischief.
I remember my parents forcing me to go outside just to get out of the house. I didn’t get a cell phone until I was 12 years old, and that cell phone was a flip phone with limited texting. Facebook wasn’t even a thing until I was about 13, and Twitter and Instagram were completely unheard of.
These days, I know 8 year olds that have iPhones.
Personally, I think an iPhone is a great thing to have, or any smartphone for that matter.
Without my iPhone’s GPS, I’d have gotten completely and utterly lost somewhere in some sort of cornfield by now. Without being able to Google things on the go, I’d never have found out that the U.S. Bank closes at 5 P.M. and I wouldn’t know the difference between affect and effect.
I’m also in college, which means looking up random facts throughout the day is rather routine. This is not so much the case for 8 year olds.
But I think being in elementary school with a smartphone is excessive.
I grew up with what I thought was an overwhelming amount of electronics. But kids nowadays appear Amish compared with what kids have now.
They have smartphones, Blu-ray, iPods, iPads, laptops, Netflix, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, flat-screen TVs, Doodle Jump, Temple Run and don’t even get me started on Angry Birds.
I remember my older sister and I having to take turns listening to a Britney Spears CD on our portable CD Player. I realize that times are changing. Society is modernizing and trust me, I have always been 100 percent on board with our population growing alongside technology’s advancements.
But what kids are exposed to should be limited.
Just because the iPhone 6S is coming out, doesn’t mean your 9 year old needs one. Since when did the younger generations have to skip the “first phone” phase? I want all 12 year olds to know what it’s like to have a QWERTY keyboard.
Parents rely too heavily on technology to entertain their kids and this is something that we need to start looking out for.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids between ages 3 and 18 use screens for a maximum of two hours daily; and kids younger than 3 should avoid screens altogether. But this recommendation has become almost entirely irrelevant in the eyes of today’s child-rearing society.
Today's children are spending an average of seven hours a day on entertainment media, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Parents should stop supporting kids’ obsession with social media and video games because the repercussions could lead kids down a road that kids of my generation were lucky enough to avoid.
Teaching kids how to entertain themselves without staring at a screen is an important life skill. Let them do constructive, self-reliant tasks that will help mold them into better human beings and that can include smart uses of technology. Limiting their access to various devices will help them discover other ways they can be entertained and will help expand their horizons.
Marjorie Hogan, a pediatrician at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minn., told NPR that technology, when used appropriately, is wonderful. She also states, “... we have to teach children how to make good choices around it, how to limit it and how to make sure it's not going to take the place of all the other good stuff out there."
It’s important for kids to learn how to pace themselves with media. Studies have shown that excessive media use can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders and obesity.
I wish I could go back in time and shake some sense into my parents and get them to make me stop watching Spongebob all day long and go outside and play a sport.
If I feel that way now, just wait until 50 years from now when teenagers spend a whole day trying to figure out what that blinding light coming from outside the window is.
It’s the sun, people.