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Is Technology Taking Over the Kids?

Twenty years ago, children were playing outside all day, riding bikes, playing sports and building forts.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Twenty years ago, children were playing outside all day, riding bikes, playing sports and building forts. Children of the past created their own form of play that didn’t require costly equipment or parental supervision. Those children got up and moved around.  Their sensory world was nature based and simple. Family time meant spending time doing chores, and children had expectations to meet on a daily basis. Families came together at the dining room table to eat and talk about their day.  Even after dinner, that same dining table became the center for baking, crafts and homework.

Things are quite different these days because of technology’s impact on the 21st century family.  While juggling school, work, home, and community activities, parents now rely heavily on technology to make their lives faster and more efficient.  The technology that was meant to make life easier could well be causing a disintegration of core values that held families together years ago. Technology as simple as TV, Internet, video games, iPads, and cell phones has advanced so rapidly, that families do not even notice the impact on their family structure and lifestyles. A 2010 study showed that elementary-aged children average over seven hours per day on some form of entertainment technology, seventy-five percent of children have TV’s in their bedrooms, and 50 percent of North American homes have the TV on all day.  Families no longer engage in the dining room table conversations that were common just a few short years ago.  Family sit-down dinners have been replaced by the “big screen” and take out meals. 

Children who rely on technology for the majority of their play or entertainment, limit their creativity and imagination because their bodies have not fully developed optimal sensory and motor development.  Bodies that sit all day are bombarded with so much sensory stimulation that it could be causing some kids to become "hard-wired for high speed".  This could contribute to the growing number of children who are entering school struggling with self-control and the attention skills needed for learning.  Short attention skills can also become behavior management problems for teachers in the classroom. 

Today's technology offers somewhat frenzied, chaotic entertainment to a young sedentary body.  Studies are showing that the Impact of the advancing technology on children manifests in the form of increased physical, psychological and behavior disorders.  Health and education systems are also beginning to see a connection.  Child obesity and diabetes, increased diagnoses of ADHD and autism, coordination disorder, sensory processing disorder, and sleep disorders are associated with technology overuse. 

So what is a parent to do?  No one can argue the benefits of advanced technology.  In this fast-paced world with both parents working long hours, parents are increasingly resorting to providing their children with more TV, video games, and cell phone devices.  Technology could, however, be creating a huge disconnect between parent and child.  Parents need to set limits on the amount of screen time to which their kids are exposed.  They should take time to turn off the TV or laptop to play a game or read a book with the children.  Kids need lots of hugging, playing, and rough-housing.  Parents should make sure their kids have lots of face-to-face interaction with friends and family.  Parents are the children's main role models, so it is important that the kids see them set down the cellphones when talking and interacting with others.  If doing the "real" thing is more fun than watching it on a screen, the kids will put down those devices and join in!  Providing some "real" things for parents and the kids to do together will help reduce screen time.  Technology is an awesome thing, but it does have its downfalls when it comes to youngsters. 

4-H Information

We have several 4-H clubs for our Garland county youth who are 5 to 19 years old.  For more information on all the fun 4-H activities there are, call the Extension Office at 623-6841 or email Linda Bates at lbates@uaex.edu.

EHC Information

Are you interested in joining an existing Extension Homemakers Club? EHC is the largest volunteer organization in the state. For information on EHC call 623-6841 or email jvincent@uaex.edu


Master Gardeners

Attention Gardening Enthusiasts!  A new Master Gardeners training class will soon begin.  Please call for an application, or drop by the office at 236 Woodbine if you want to take the training.  If you’re interested in becoming a Master Gardener and would like more information, you’re welcome to attend their monthly meeting on the 3rd Thursday of each month at 1 pm at the Elks Lodge.  You may also call the Extension office on 623-6841 or email abates@uaex.edu.

 

The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.  

By Linda Bates
County Extension Agent - 4-H
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Linda Bates
County Extension Agent - 4-H
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
236 Woodbine Hot Springs AR 71901
(501) 623-6841
lbates@uaex.edu

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  • The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

    The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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