What’s Trending: Cyber Children

cyberchildren1cyberchildren2The question was asked of how the cyber world can affect young children.  Now days a lot of moms are able to diminish tantrums by handing them their iPhones. I know more than a few children under 8 who have their own iPods, iPads, Tablets, etc.  The ever-growing cyber world is not just affecting young adults, but it extends from young children even at age one or two, to the elderly, who are being taught to use their new cell phones, or Facebook accounts. There is really no one who would deny that cyber addiction could actually occur in young children.  Kids don’t just have the opportunity to watch shows on T.V., getting addicted that way, they have more options than ever including phone games, computer/video games, social networking (for the older ones), Netflix, etc.

When my son, Tyler was two, I got an iPhone.  At least half of the apps that I’ve downloaded have been for him.  There are endless apps for “toddler aged” kids.  After playing them just a few times, Tyler had already learned how to work my phone, turning it on, choosing between different games, and how to play each game.  At TWO! It’s really crazy how fast a child can learn how to work these devices. Any mom will admit it can be much easier at the grocery store, doctor’s office, or what have you, if you let the child play Angry Birds or Kids Doodle while waiting, ESPECIALLY if you have multiple children.

There are beneficial opportunities through games, and the cyber world for children, including meeting friends and connecting for those who do not do well in social interactions. Unfortunately, there are many negative effects as well.  Kids can get addicted to their cyber world.  “A vicious cycle often takes hold:  people bereft opportunities for achievement and socializing in their lives, are drawn to the cyber world, and seemingly finding what they lack, become hooked.  The more they become hooked, the more they neglect friends, family and responsibility,” (Roberts 2010).  Cyber addiction can inhibit children in learning how to interact in social situations.  Playing too many video games, phone games, or computer time can cause children to have less social skills, and they can be, “Incredibly awkward in person,”  (Roberts, 2010).  Kevin Roberts, an academic coach, also found that, “Different learners come to me for help in school, and almost 90% of the time, their poor academic performance is accompanied by excessive cyber behaviors,” (Roberts 2010).  This shows that children’s spending too much time on the Internet, or playing on phones, is with no surprise, linked with low academic performance and trouble in school.

In Robert’s article, he explains the importance of limiting children’s time in the cyber world.  To do this, he suggests linking cyber time to, “The completion of chores and other healthy activities that ensure your child has a balanced life,” (Roberts, 2010).  An example of this would be that a half an hour of riding a bike outside, or playing with their younger sibling, could be rewarded with a half an hour of playing a computer game.  An example of this for an older child would be game time coming after homework time, or after completing their chores.  Healthy activities can be rewarded with T.V. time, social networking time, phone time or whatever works for your child.  This can also work for adults, but you must have enough self-control to limit your own cyber time and monitor yourself.

Bottom line: cyber addiction can affect kids of all ages and can have negative effects.  Try to be aware of children’s cyber time and limit it by encouraging a balanced lifestyle.  

cyberchildren4 cyberchildren3

by Allison Sheffield

References:
Roberts, Kevin J. “Cyber Children: What Parents Need To Know.” Exceptional Parent 40.4 (2010): n. pag. Ebscohost. Web. 20 Feb. 2014. <http://web.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.lib.utah.edu/ehost/detail?vid=3&sid=82aab60b-3e4b-490f-9568-9c916a17b1b%40sessionmgr4002&hid=4206&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=eft&AN=508180691&gt;.

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