In today’s fast-paced world it is hard to remain focused at all times. One’s attention is split between the obligations at work, focus on the family’s well being, social life at the tips of our fingers and the pressure of always being connected. While it may be tiring at times, in the overly digital era we live in, we’ve learnt to split our attention between all the actors in our lives. But how has this been affecting our children?
Children, especially the young ones, are closely attuned to parent’s attention. They thrive when attention is given to them in healthy doses, and in the early years of their lives, even depend on it for not only survival but also for emotional and social development. But in cases where there is a lack of such attentiveness, children tend to seek other methods of acquiring their parents’ attention and develop imitative habits of their parents’.
It is not surprising to see a child pretending to be busy on the phone, tablet, or computer as their busy parent. Or, when they reach the pre-teen years, disconnect from the physical world surrounding them and become a slightly brooding copy of their eyes-glued-to-the-screen parents.
Are we setting our kids up for tech addiction?
In the recent research .ME carried out on Gen Alpha, the most tech-savvy generation so far, the focus remained on how technology is influencing our youngest generation. The research has shown that only 2% of Gen Alpha kids are not using any type of technology.
While the figures are staggeringly low, they are also not surprising. After all, nowadays, most homes are equipped with smart speakers, tablets, smart TVs etc. Thus the child’s first contact with technology is the moment a tablet is placed in front of them as a tech version of a pacifier. Later, when they learn how to speak, interacting with smart speakers and other types of AI technology, becomes natural to them, as they see other members of the household do the same.
These children are growing up alongside the development of technology as we know it today. For them, technology is not seen as something separate, but rather a part of their reality.
While it is convenient to be able to reach your kid after their practice and have them do homework research online, it is important we, as parents, set guidelines and examples to what a healthy relationship with technology should look like. Although remember, simply imposing the rules, without you yourself adhering to them would not do much good.
Kids would rather give up sugar than texting
The rise in the use of social media is increasing exponentially, however, this should be put in perspective. Ten years ago, some of the social media platforms we use today were in the development phase or not yet known. The choices were few and did not suit everyone’s liking. However, today, with the plethora of social media platforms ranging from audio to visual format, anyone can find something that is right for them.
Despite the overall and growing worry that technology detaches our kids from the ‘real world’, it has ample positive effects on our children’s lives. When asked, during the conducted research, what they would rather give up, sugar or texting, more children said they would be willing to give up sugar before they gave up texting. At first glance, this finding might seem shocking, but texting, as a part of technological advances, benefits our young generations far more than sugar, especially when we keep in mind that only 24% of Gen Alpha kids claim they would spend more time with their friends online than in person.
These kids, besides our worries of being glued to the screens, use texting to strengthen their friendships, get in contact with family members and procure information they need.
It is not only that technology has helped children’s relationships with friends, but 54% of Gen Alpha parents also say tech has improved their relationship with their kids. Besides this, technology has had a great impact on children’s schoolwork and learning process.
So what can we as their guardians do?
While some of the Gen Alpha kids are on the verge of becoming teens, we should take up this last opportunity to help them navigate the digital life.
It is certain that social media platforms not only have the capacity to strengthen kids’ friendships with their friends and family, but also to prompt children to express their creativity, since these platforms are valuable sources of creative self-expression. Nonetheless, we should remind them that while ‘hanging out’ in the online world has its charm, missing out on the valuable experiences in the real world can leave them lacking certain social skills.
At the same time, parents should remember that social media platforms are an inevitable part of our lives, and it is up to us to support the upsides, and minimize, or eliminate where possible, the downsides of social media.
At last, there should be no guilt placed when parents attempt to calm their children with a smartphone or a tablet, as digitalization is a part of our everyday lives. However, we ought to pay attention that our kids are using tech in a healthy manner and are aware of all safety and security aspects.
This article is part of our series on Generation Alpha
We seek to provide answers to your most pressing questions about keeping your kids safe online, introducing them to the digital world, and helping them be their authentic selves online.
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