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The Impact of Technology on a Young Child Brain

The technology essay explores how different technological tools, such as the Internet, social media and electronic gadgets, influence the brain of a young child. In particular, the paper investigates how technology affects the cognitive, social, emotional and sensory skills of a child. In the contemporary technologically advanced society, electronic gadgets and theInternet are aninevitable part of life. Hence, it is essential for children to be involved in technological progress as well. However, the use of technology requires certain measures in order to avoid negative consequences for young children. Thus, the results of research presented in the paper show that despite some positive effects of technology on the development of young children, excessive use of electronic gadgets without the supervision of parents has a negative impact on their social and behavioral skills andentails certain health risks.

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Technology and Young Child’s Brain

Nowadays, technology is an essential part of human life. Technological innovations contribute to intellectual development by accelerating it; however, theyalsoshapethe perception of the world. It seems that technologiesonly benefit the development ofchildren; however, the immature psyche of a growing child is like a sponge absorbing all information that electronic devicesoffer. The child’s brain adjusts to technical adaptations, and, as a result, thinking and perception of the child change. Even though the child’s brain is saturated with visual and auditory impressions, it lacks tactile and olfactory sensations. The child does not receive experience needed for the development of the important areas of the brain that are responsible for empathy, self-control and decision-making. In addition, displacement of real interaction with the outside world from the child’s life can lead to isolation, insecurity and unwillingness to live in a society. Therefore, it could be stated that despite certain positive influence of technology on child development, itexertsa dramatic impact on cognition, social/emotional, physical and sensory developmental domains since contemporary children spend most of their time using electronic gadgets without the supervision of their parents.

Impact of Technology on Cognitive Skills

Excessive use of gadgets by children leads to a decrease in concentration and memory impairment, which contributes not only to reluctance but also an absolute inability to learn in the future. Modern children do not have time to develop their body, balance, small and large motor skills, speech and thinking since they spend most of their time playinggames on a computer or tablet.According to UNESCO, an average seven-year-old European has already spent more than a year of his/her life using electronic gadgets (Bergen, Davis,& Abbit, 2015, p. 63). German psychologist Manfred Spitzer is convinced that early involvement in social networks could have a negative impact on the child’s insufficiently developed brain. According to his research, substitution of real life interaction by contacts in social networks in childhood can cause a decrease in the brain areasresponsible for social thinking and cognition (Bergen et al., 2015, p. 76). For proper development of the brain and cognitive skills,children need a variety of external stimuli. However, the number of such stimuli is reduced due to the use of gadgets. The cognitive ability of young children has been limited to the screen of the smartphone, which does not provide necessary experience to develop areas of the brain responsible for empathy, self-control and decision-making. Therefore, it is extremely important for children to explore the world physicallyrather than virtually.Otherwise, they will lose interest in real life without beginning to cognize it. Inturn, it could result in serious problems and disabilities in adulthood.

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Impact of Technology on Social and Emotional Development of Children

Child psychologists believe that excessive use of electronic gadgets leads to addiction, when a child tries to devote free time to computer games and watchingcartoonsonline, refusing from other types of entertainment. Having lost their favorite electronic device, children begin to feel uncomfortable and capricious (Young& Christiano, 2017, p. 115). The Internet is perceived by young children not as a set of technologies and a virtual reality but rather as a part of life (Bergen et al., 2015, p. 79). Thus,the child’s virtual environment does not coincide with real life, provoking anxiety, depression and other disturbing emotional responses. Additionally, a child cannot cope with an overabundance of information obtained with the help of modern technological devices, which leads to emotional and volitional impairments. Children become emotionally unbalanced, unable to control their actions and increasingly prone to stress.Due to the impact of digital technologies, children are actively experimenting and searching for their social “ego,” which forms different social roles. At the same time, such search can lead to initiation rather thanmanifestation of identity as well as to misunderstanding of oneself and delays in the process of self-determination. Studies by the National Institute of Mental Health have shown that children who watch TV shows and movies containingscenes of violence are often less sensitive to pain and suffering of others (Bergen et al., 2015, p. 103). Moreover, such children are inclined to be more afraid of the outside world andmore aggressive and hostile towards other people. Thus, it could be stated that due to incorrect and unreasonable use of modern technical devices, the development of mental processes becomes one-sided, impoverishing the whole range of feelings, emotions and social skills.

Technology and Physical Development of a Child

Nowadays, most children spend their time playing computer games, watching cartoonsand entertaining themselves with electronic gadgets, which deprives them of active movement. The lack of movement has a negativeeffect on the physical development of the child’s body. Children who spend hours usingtouchscreengadgets experience problems with coordination of the movements of the hands by the brain. There have been cases when such children were not able to throwa ball straight forward because their upper limbs responded inadequately to signals from the brain (Lee-Chua,Sison-Dionisio, Fernandez,& Alignay, 2013, p. 93). Constant use of the mouse couldlead toinjuries of hands and fingers. It is referred to as aso-called tunnel syndrome, when the monotonous load on the bone leads to the squeezing of the nerves.Continual peering into small objects on the screen of smartphones and tablets develops myopia, and the dryness of the eyes can lead to their inflammation and infection (Lee-Chua et al, 2013, p. 96).Regular use of tablets and smartphones is also harmful to the spine, which still has a supple structure and bents rapidly in children. In addition, recent research has shown that blinking that appears on the TV screen is extremely dangerous for the development of the brain. A report on the results of the study conducted in 2013 in Japan indicates that watching television has a negative effect on the front parts of the brain and, as a result, leads to a decrease level of verbal IQ (Lee-Chua et al., 2013, p. 101). Thus, without any doubts, the use of technological tools without proper supervision of parents leads to severe impairments of the physical development of young children.

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The Impact of Technology on Sensory Skills

Sensory skills are the foundation of the child’s process of learning. However, under the impact of technology, these sensory skills are often distorted. Recently, it was found thatthe average duration of concentration in schoolchildren has noticeably decreased in comparison to the same indicators 10-15 years ago (Stephen& Edwards, 2017, p. 81).Due to increaseduse ofthe Internet, children receive much less sensory signals from the environment. The notion of the world becomes less sensitive; the child can develop blunted perception of sounds and smells of the real worldand be afraid of any touch. As a result, there are difficulties in perceiving one’s body and its capabilities.A child may find it difficult to perceive himself/herself as a separate physical entity. The useof the Internet leads to a decline in the ability to empathize with the interlocutor; thus, the child does not know how to read non-verbal information during communication (Stephen & Edwards, 2017, p. 87). In addition, children who excessively play computer games experience distorted perception of the world. They associatethemselves with immortal computer heroes and get used to the idea that if they are “killed,” the game could be restarted (Grossman, Paulsen,& Miserany, 2016, p. 46).It leads to the decline of the sense of self-preservation. Children believe that the solution to any conflict could be achieved by force and weapons. Thus, they do not even try to settle quarrels in a peaceful waybecause they do not know how to do it. Psychologists have proved that at an early stage of development, children need sensory and visual stimulation. From the screen, children receive very little information whichcan promote learning. In real life,learning of the surrounding world with hands and eyesimproves the child’s sensory skills. In other words, the child needs a three-dimensional world for better development (Grossman et al., 2016, p. 65). From the screens of computers and TVs, he/she sees only a two-dimensional world. When learningwith a special program, the child practically does not interact with real people. Conversely,live communication is muchmore attractive for a child than communicating with computer voices. Watching of television programs, even those specifically designed for training, leads to a decrease in the development of mental abilities. In turn, it couldresult in brain inactivity. Thus, despite the possible positive impact of technologies on the child’s brain, most likely, they distort sensory skills at young age.

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Heath Risk Factors Associated with Technology

Due to excessive use of technological gadgets, contemporary children are subjected to different health risk factors. One of the most common factors is obesity. It is known that the Internet, smartphones, iPhones, etc. promote a sedentary lifestyle. Children use them to communicate with peers. These tools provide an opportunity to watch movies and play games without significant physical efforts. Children who excessively use gadgets do not getenough physical exercise and, as a result, develop obesity (Sahoo et al., 2015, p. 191). On the one hand, it is highly convenient for parents to keep their children in safety. On the other hand, the growing rates of obesity signify that the young generation desperately requires physical movement. Without giving proper attention to the sedentary lifestyle of their children, parents are forced to pay significant amounts of money to treat themforobesity and heart problems. Another health risk factor caused by technology is associated with eyesight. The growing computerizationleads to a so-called computer visual syndrome (CVS) (Young& Christiano, 2017, p. 125). The child’s visual system is poorly adapted to viewing images and objects on the screen. A burning sensation in the eyes, the feeling of ‘sand’ under the eyelids, pain in the eyes and forehead, and redness of the eyeballs are the symptoms of CVS that are reported byasignificant number of contemporary children (Young & Christiano, 2017, p. 126). Apart fromobesity and CVS, technologies also poseriskstothe mental health of children, provoking addiction, depression and even dementia. Thus, it could be stated that despite conveniences brought by technologies, children should use them under strict supervision of parents in order to avoid severe problems with health.

Conclusion

Exploration of the impact of technology on the young child’s brain shows that the Internet, social media and electronic gadgets have adramaticimpact on such developmental domains as cognition, social/emotional, physical and sensoryskills as well as are the basis of certain health risk factors. Replacement of real life interactions by social networks and gadgetscould cause a decrease in the brain area responsible for social thinking and cognition. An increased amount of time spenton playing computer games and watching movies on tablets leads to anxiety, depression, low emotional responses and lack of social self-reflection in real life. Static position of the body and limbs during watching TV and playing computer games negatively affects blood circulation and contributes to the development of the tunnel syndrome. Due to increased use of the Internet, children receive much less sensory signals from the environment. In addition, in the contemporary technologically developed world, electronic gadgets contribute to obesity and computer visual syndrome.

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