In today’s technology world pediatricians, teachers and many parents express their concern about the effects of technology on children and their development. But a new study reveals a surprising tendency – younger parents don’t seem to be worried about the potentially harmful effects of too much screen time on their kids.
While we can find numerous articles, blogs and websites, as well as various books dedicated on the issue of kids’ excessive media use, younger parents who grew up with the TV, the computer and the video games don’t give this matter much thought. Researchers from the Northwestern University in the U.S. looked at over 2,300 parents of children up to the age of eight and found that the majority of them don’t worry about their kids’ excessive media use. 78 percent of them said that kids’ media consumption is not among the problems and conflicts within the family and 59 percent of the parents admitted they are not concerned about their children may become addicted to the new media. Study author and Director of Northwestern’s Center on Media and Human Development, Ellen Wartella explained that she and her colleagues asked the parents what the main challenges of upbringing were. Most of the answers were related to kids’ health, safety, exercise and nutrition. And sometimes media and technology were not even mentioned.
The results of the study were very surprising to the authors and in fact, very concerning according to experts. Only 31 percent of the adults in the survey said they were concerned about their children’s media and technology use and 38 percent feared tech gadgets addiction. Those who weren’t worried about their kids becoming addicted were 59 percent of all participants. 55 percent of all parents admitted they weren’t worrying much about the amount of time their kids spent staring at screens. The survey revealed another, even more surprising tendency. While younger parents are used to the use of technology, they rarely rely on it to distract children. When Mom needs to cook dinner or Dad take the kids in the car, they won’t hand over a smartphone or a tablet. Most of them in fact are more likely to set up their kid with a plush toy, a book, some game or the TV.
So, what these results mean? The researchers say, there’s a new generation of parents now who grew up with technology and computers, smartphones and tablets are a part of these families’ everyday life. Instead of being the cause of a conflict between parents and children, media and technology have become a shared family affair. This is a concerning trend for most experts because of the negative impact screen time has on kids’ physical activity levels as well as on their thinking and learning skills. Instead of playing outdoors, children are spending a good amount of their time behind screens. Pediatricians say that kids’ excessive media use in recent years is closely connected to the exploding rates of childhood obesity.
On the other hand, media still offers many benefits to children. Whatever they may be, doctors warn media and technology should not replace one-on-one parenting time, active playing and learning.