Technology makes life easy – said someone intelligent.
Do you agree with this quote? Well, most of us will.
Technology has played an important role in the progress and evolution of humankind. It has helped us to get connected and grow as a society. It has opened doors to new possibilities. And it presented opportunities that didn’t exist before. There is no limit to technological evolution. The recent few decades have seen phenomenal technological advancement. It seems like yesterday, when we used to have really heavy TV sets at home. The only mediums of communication around the world were the telephones and written mails.
We wouldn’t have believed it if told a few years back. But now we can talk face to face to a person sitting on the other side of the globe. And that too at an affordable cost. It became possible just in a span of 30 years. Now, we can do things that seemed impossible just 3 decades earlier. Perhaps, today we are at the peak of technological advancement since the start of human evolution. We are breaking new limits with every passing day. Technology has changed the way of life during the last few decades. Now life seems impossible without technology even for a single day.
But are there any downsides of technological evolution?
Technology has given a lot to humankind. But it comes with some disadvantages as well. Some of the negative impacts of technology on our life are:
Social Disconnection: Through the new mediums of communication have been evolved recently. We have more and more options to connect globally. Yet human race is getting socially disconnected. People spend a lot of time on social media sites, messenger apps, and phones.
But, they are reluctant to be physically social. Now, people find it difficult to get out of house to meet someone in person. This tendency can cause intense feelings of isolation and loneliness. It can also affect mental health drastically.
Physical inactivity: Technology makes life easy and comfortable. However, too much dependency on machines can affect physical and mental health. New technological discoveries have limited the jobs requiring physical hard work. Machines are doing all the heavy lifting for us now.
Jobs once required a lot of man work are being done easily by machines nowadays. This situation leaves less work and job opportunities for people. And it puts humanity on the path of slow obsoleting. Major job opportunities require less human efforts today. This physical inactivity has led the human race to an unhealthy lifestyle.
Addiction to technology: This is another growing trend in society. Evolution in the telecommunication industry has brought a lot of options to us. These options include smartphones, PCs, laptops internet, and much more. Video games, streaming video channels, movies, TV shows, and social media are struggling for our attention. And these entertaintment channels have become major addictions today.
People can’t imagine their life without cell phones, online entertainment channels, and social media. This dependency on technology has changed human behavior completely. It can cause drastic mood swings in people. According to research, deprivation from social media or phones can affect physical and mental health. It can cause nervousness, anxiety, severe mental pain, and suffering in some people.
Impact of technology on kids: Impacts of technology on kids’ life and growth are far more severe. Kids should be out in open involved in physical activities. They should be playing, exercising, and socializing with their friends. But nowadays, they are found playing video games, watching youtube videos, or accessing social media indoors. They don’t want to getout anymore.
It is very harmful to kid’s mental and physical growth. Parents use technology as a tool to pacify their kids. They allow kids to engage with cell phones, TV, and social media because they don’t have time to spend with them. But they should not ignore the bad effects of technology on children’s overall health. We will have to pay the toll for this sudden change in life style at later stage of life.
But, does technology help learning as well?
Technology has presented an opportunity to access limitless information from the comfort of home. One needs not to go to a specific institution. To be present in the classroom or attend a course physically. Learning a new skill or to be an expert in a particular field has become easier now. One can access information almost about everything through the internet from the comfort of home. There are applications that provide online coaching on various topics. Now we have pre-recorded videos, online courses and online games. There are PowerPoint presentations, and other resources as well to make learning fun for kids. New technology has given new dimensions to the education industry. Equipment like projectors, whiteboards, computers, and mobile apps have made learning easy and fun.
The education system has seen a lot of changes lately. Especially after Covid19 outbreak and the whole world going through a series of lockdowns. The students have been unable to visit schools due to this situation. However, online learning methods have proven to be the savior. Technology has made online learning possible. And this new learning method has overwhelmed the education system.
Latest technology and kids
Now, it seems too difficult to imagine child education without the latest technology. And the parents don’t have any other option but to provide access to gadgets like smartphones, laptops, and tablets to their kids. As a result, kids are developing a habit of being dependent and addicted to technology.
This situation brings kids closer to online threats. They are unable to distinguish between the bright and the dark sides of technology. Kids if not provided proper guidance can witness Cyberbullying, online scams, life threats, and can be exposed to inappropriate content. 78% of adolescents end their lives due to online threats and cyber-crime according to research.
Is applying restrictions on kids a solution?
So, what can we do to keep our kids safe from such hazards? Should we impose restrictions on children? Or should keep an eye on what they are checking online all the time?
We cannot simply brand technology to be solely good or purely dangerous for children. There are benefits associated with technology that can’t be ignored. And technology is very much needed in a child’s growth and learning in today’s world. While it is helping new generation to learn things faster and to improve their skills. It also provides them a platform to socialize with the modern world. On the other hand, access to the internet, social media websites, and apps exposes children to online threats and attacks. This situation presents a need to promote the safe use of technology to kids. While modern education seems impossible without the use of new technology gadgets, we need to find a way to ensure children’s safety as well.
Things we can do
There are precautions that can be taken in order to avoid the risk. And to keep kids safe from online hazards. Here are a few things that can be done by the guardians and the kids themselves in this endeavour:
Win their trust by becoming their friend
One thing very important that parents can do is to take the kids in confidence. It will make kids feel comfortable sharing everything with their parents. Studies show that only 48% of adolescents facing an online threat reveal it to their parents. And 54% prefer to share it with their friends instead. The percentage of adolescents sharing it with teachers is even lower (just 19%). However, the figures differ when we look at the data gender-wise. Girls tend to value their privacy highly when it is not so common in boys. Only 33% of boys are found conscious of online threats or messages of sexual and violent nature. While this percentage is way too high (78%) for girls in teenage.
According to a survey, 58% of teenage girls are likely to discuss an online threat with their parents. But this percentage is just 38% for teenage boys. These figures clearly show that the parents are not able to befriend their children. And they fail to build trust in their relationship with kids. This situation leaves children vulnerable to online risks and harm. And it makes them feel helpless due to a lack of guidance and support from parents/teachers.
Proper monitoring and guidance
It is imperative to provide proper guidance to kids and teenagers to keep them safe in today’s environment. Especially while one simple click can open doors to unimaginable risks and treats. Parents and teachers can play a vital role in this situation by becoming their true friends and life coaches.
Kids need proper technology awareness to use it effectively. Proper monitoring and guidance can help children to perform academically and to stay safe from online threats. Observe the kid’s behavior and watch for the signs of your child being targeted online. Be alert if you observe your child spending long hours online especially at night. If you observe calls from unknown people for your kids. If you find your kids receiving unsolicited gifts. And if you observe unnatural behavior like turning off the device as soon as you enter the room to hide something. These are some of the signs to tell you that your child is getting into a trap.
Spend Time With Kids
There is no substitute to spending more and more time with your kids in this endeavor. Talk to your kids often. Guide them to make proper use of the technology to learn things. Monitor their online activities regularly. Place computer/laptop in a common area where you can see what kids are doing.
Keep your financial assets and information secured from kids. Keep an eye on your credit card and phone bill to identify any unfamiliar charges. And don’t take it lightly when your child shares any uncomfortable online encounter or exchange. These are few actions that will bring you closer to your kids and help you to win their trust. At the same time, spending time with kids and regular monitoring will make them feel anxious. And the chances of them drifting away from the learning path will reduce significantly.
Educating kids about cybercrime
130bn pounds were snatched from the consumers by hackers in 2017 according to a report from cybersecurity firm Norton.
Phishing scams, online frauds, hacking, and ransomware attacks. These are just a few ways cybercriminals use to target their victims. They are always after vulnerable targets. However, youngsters are more prone to such attacks. They can easily be tricked into sharing personal and financial information compared to adults. And cybercriminals find it easy to win kid’s trust by sweet talking and using fake profiles.
Cybercriminals use different techniques to lure kids into sharing sensitive information. Thus it is important to have an honest discussion around such threats with kids. Explain how cybercriminals target users online illustrating some scenarios. Tell them how they should behave while encountering such situations and not to take such incidents lightly. Encourage them to discuss anything strange or awkward they come across online.
Help kids with setting up online profiles
It is also important to guide kids with setting up their online profiles. Explain to them not to choose usernames or passwords that are easy to guess or can reveal their identity online. Sharing some news articles about cybercrime can also help. There is no need to scare them. But it is vital to emphasize on responsible online behavior and constructive usage of the internet.
Improper content education
Internet is full of all kinds of information. While some of the online content can help individuals to learn things and progress forward. The web is full of improper content as well. Parents might find it tough to have such a discussion with kids. But it is crucial to explain what content is termed improper and not suitable for them. It will help children to use their judgment while encountering such content online. And they will be able to avoid it.
Setting up parent controls: Are you are a busy parent and don’t always have time to monitor your child’s online activities? If so then technology itself presents some solutions.
Most modern devices have some form of parental controls embedded into the operating system. These features can allow parents to control the usage of the device and access to the internet. There are features to track online behavior which can help to monitor what your children are searching for online. Also, there are features that allow parents to set a time limit for device usage. Parents can now restrict access to certain websites, block harmful applications, control who the kids can chat with, and hide profanity or improper content.
Furthermore, there are a variety of software applications that provide advanced security features. These features can record a child’s device usage, web usage, and online search history. It can also record the keystrokes made on the device. And, there are service providers that provide services that allow you to track your child’s location. And notify you if your child leaves a particular area on the map. Check below tutorials to control your kid’s online activities and to block improper content:
- Content restrictions for Windows 10 and Xbox One
- Parental controls for YouTube Kids
- Parental controls for Apple products
- Parental controls for Google Play
- Parental controls on Amazon FreeTime
- Parental controls on Netflix
- Parental controls guide for Chromebook
- Content filters on SafeSearch for Google
Parental controls are an easy choice for a parent and can give you peace of mind. However, this choice eats away at the trust in the relationship with your kids. It can restrict your kid from making smart choices and from performing responsible actions. It also comes in the way of exploration, freedom, and creative thinking.
Putting restrictions on devices when your children are old enough to understand good and bad aspects of life will raise curiosity. And it will force the kids to find a way to bypass the restrictions. When kids start accessing something secretly, they are not likely to share what they find online. And it reduces the chances to discuss the online threats they may encounter with parents.
Parents have a tough choice to make here. They need to ask themself a question. Do they want their children to explore the world with their guidance? Where they can discuss with kids what they are viewing and grab the chance to mold their understanding. Or, would they rather want the kids to discover everything on their own secretly. Where parents will not have a chance to explain what kids find or encounter.
Internet is like an ocean. It can be a blessing to humankind if used properly. One can find answers to all possible questions if searched constructively. But the results can be drastically horrible if the search wonders in the dark side of technology. This technology can present anything and everything to your kids with a simple click. Even something that you want to save them from. However, we cannot simply close our doors on this technology due to this fear. We have to embrace it in such a way that it becomes a tool to create our future. Applying restrictions on kids is also not a recommended method to deal with this challenge. The need here is to create a friendly environment within families. To keep an open line of communication for kids. And to make sure that the kids feel comfortable discussing anything and everything when they face problems online. There is a need to guide kids towards fair use of technology. And to educate them on safe and responsible online behavior. Also, parents need to keep an eye on children’s behavior and online activities. And they need to act promptly if anything suspicious turns up. Taking some precautions can keep your kids safe and give you peace of mind forever.