Kids can be very difficult almost always. There is not a day when you can rest even for just 30 minutes uninterrupted. More so when you have so many chores on your list of “to dos”. Many parents look for a lot of ways to keep kids entertained specially during those busy days.
One of the most effective form of entertainment for kids is gadgets. It will keep them entertained for hours. But the big question is- Is it really good for the kids? Let us discuss the positive effects as well as the negative effects of gadgets to kids.
1. It can help them be entertained while the parent is busy like when they are outside and there are environmental risks like they may go out on the streets unsupervised or climbing somewhere dangerous or going with strangers. It can be pretty scary. Giving them a gadget will help them be entertained while you are busy and so you will not need to worry about checking in on the kid often.
2. It can help them in learning fast. There are so many things they can learn from the internet. From simple ABCs to nursery rhymes or to more complex topics like math and science. It can help them learn so much in a short period of time and make your life a bit easier.
3. It is fun! All kids want to have fun. There are hundreds of games one can download in their gadgets. They can choose any kind and any theme under the sun. There are also thousands of videos on Youtube and Facebook that can keep them entertained. Playing online games with friends can not only entertain the kids but adults as well.
However, research has shown so many negative effects of gadgets to kids. I will only talk about a few of those.
1. Problem with physical health. Kids can play on their gadgets for hours. They are so entertained that when the parent doesn’t put a limit to their use, it can cause addiction. They will not know how to stop. They will not care about their posture, or whether they have eaten, or if their eyes hurt already. This can cause a lot of negative effect on their health.
2. A psychological disorder that will arise because of gadget use is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Syndrome or ADHD. Kids with ADHD have problems focusing, they are fidgety and they can have a lot of problems at home and specially in school.
3. It can also cause depression especially with those who spends so much time comparing themselves to the false realities of social media. These kids also have a problem with their social skills. They become more and more isolated as they spend more time with their gadgets. A recent scare from parents was the MOMO CHALLENGE. There is this scary character that will just appear on the screen of the kids watching Youtube then give them challenges. It may sound harmless but the problem is with the kinds of challenges this character gives them. It can start from a simple disobedience to parents, then move on to making the kids hurt themselves to the worst which is making the kid commit suicide. This character knows the kids information and threatens to kill the kids parents or family members if they will not follow. There have been reports of kids committing suicide because of this challenge. How scary is that?
So what do we do as parents?
First of all for parents, no matter how busy you can be, you should be in control of your kids’ life. Don’t just give them gadgets and let them control how long they will use the gadget and the shows they watch. They should be given time limit and show limit. Much better if the parent has pre-watched the shows and just download it on the gadget. Do not give them control over the internet as it is very dangerous. A lot of crazy people in the internet can influence them.
Second, give them other ways and means of entertainment. There is nothing wrong with the “old school” ways of entertainment. Give them arts and crafts materials and let them be creative. It is good for them.
Third, let them explore nature. There are so many things to learn from nature. Teach them as well to take care of nature and how they can help maintain it.
Fourth, allow the kids to be bored. If the kids are bored, they will find ways to entertain themselves. Just make sure that they are in a safe place free from hazards that can harm them, let them play and be creative. You will never know what they can come up with.
In the end, it is still the parents’ responsibility to know what is good for their kids. Once in a while (and with limits), gadgets can be a big help. But if left unsupervised, it can cause a serious problem. So let us be vigilant as parents. And no matter how busy we can be, we should make them a priority and give them quality time.