The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Too much technology for children?

Many of us know at least something about the movie “The Matrix,” right? You know, the one where machines control our lives, but we aren’t aware of just how strong a grip they have on us.

There’s also the small detail that they submerged us in tanks and we live our lives in a simulation. Nuance.

Though we aren’t held captive in a computer program, the fact remains that technology has become more prevalent in our lives. The effects of this increase seem to hit the youngest generation harder than the others.

The question isn’t who is being affected, but if those effects are positive. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t a simple yes or no.

“Technology for children and teens can be very good, providing new avenues for socialization and education,” said Kirsten Li-Barber, assistant professor of psychology at High Point University. “But I also think that it opens up new risks for them and, in some cases, can limit their ability to interact with a person one on one.”

Let’s look at toddlers and elementary schoolers. Some argue that too much screen time can affect a child’s educational success. Now, that might not be true.

“Evidence suggests that exposing children to technology, especially television, at a young age doesn’t really do much in terms of intellectual and language development,” said Li-Barber.

Technology in education has been controversial for a while. On one side, you have those who say it detracts from the classroom experience. On the other side, you have those who believe technology reveals new opportunities.

“Technology is a broad opening of perspective,” said Rob Whitnell, professor of chemistry and former IT&S head. “It helps (students) realize what they can do.”

So, within reason, technology helps with education. What about outside the curriculum?

“Students want to know that they can use technology effectively in their education,” said Whitnell. “But I think they can use a safe space where their technology doesn’t connect back to coursework.”

These “safe spaces,” such as Twitter and Facebook, are only safe in one sense of the word. Technology provides opportunities for harassment that can affect the development and behavior of people of all ages.

Despite the dangers, it can be an important part of a teen’s life.

“When children are older, reliance on social media like Twitter and Facebook can provide them with different opportunities to establish and maintain contacts with other people,” said Li-Barber.

With so many conflicting views, it’s no wonder there are so many different answers to the question, “How much is too much?”

“I think it is very important to set limits,” said Stacy Lipowski, assistant professor of psychology at High Point University in an email interview. “Children may get used to a sedentary lifestyle if they get in a pattern of spending too much time with electronics.”

With technology, the effects are ever changing. We’re not living in a Matrix yet — not by a long shot. If we aren’t careful, though, it’s hard to say what could change in the future.

“We can’t make a sweeping judgment on whether technology is good or bad,” said Li-Barber. “It’s just inescapable.”

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