As I continue to explore the relationship between digital technology and social-emotional well-being of children, I have come across peer-reviewed articles and other posts that either extend or challenge my thinking. I am comfortable with my stance on the importance of providing meaningful learning opportunities with digital technology in the classroom, and now I am seeking more information that I can share with students, families, and colleagues. For example, I believe that in general, we are aware that there are negatives associated with digital technology for children. However, I am unsure as to how many people may clearly articulate these challenges, as supported by research. Therefore, this week I sought to uncover more information about health and well-being concerns that stem from children’s interaction with digital technology.
In an article by researchers Hosokawa and Katsura (2018), they stated that the amount of time that children are spending on devices is increasing rapidly with the new developments in digital technology. Children are becoming target users through the development of media games, educational apps, or learning packages, and therefore, children’s usage is increasing (Hosokawa & Katsura, 2018). Hosokawa and Katsura (2018), articulated in their study that other researchers have also identified positive and negative impacts, linking children’s technology usage and their physical and social-emotional well-being. I believe that one of the most significant findings of Hosokawa and Katsura’s (2018) research was the measurable increase in amount of time children spend on devices and the connection between the use of mobile devices or tablets with significantly higher externalizing challenges (e.g. behaviour challenges, hyperactivity). The researchers stated that these significant impacts are primarily related to the fact that many online applications or games involve a degree of aggression or violence, and that much of this violence is glamorized or presented with humour (2018). Hosokawa and Katsura also stated that many studies identified that repeated exposure to media violence can lead to anxiety and fear, aggressive thoughts, acceptance of violence as a tool to solve conflicts, decreased social behaviour, and/or increased social isolation (2018). It is also important to note that the researchers also identify socioeconomic status as a contributing factor, in relation to “parenting practices and parental investment” in relation to children’s social-emotional well-being (Hosokawa & Katsura, 2018).
In comparison to this peer-reviewed, academic article, I was curious to see what families may uncover if they were to enter a Google Search: “children’s use of technology + negative impacts”. On the first page of search suggestions, there was a link to an article by Huffington Post, The Impact of Technology on the Developing Child. As I read through the article, there was some information that I expected to see, such as; the increase in childhood obesity and diabetes, children spending less time outside and increased amount of time on devices, and a connection to behaviour challenges. However, I was not expecting to see the article state that rapidly increasing use of digital technology has resulted in an increase in a broad range of diagnoses ranging from processing disorder, unintelligible speech, and autism. I am not an expert in medical diagnostics, however, I am critical of this claim that the article makes, that digital technology is the cause for the increase in these diagnoses…
Therefore, after reading and reflecting on these two different articles, I believe that as educators, it is imperative that we locate credible information to share with others in regards to accurate challenges of digital technology for children. This is important work in order to limit mis-information and misguided approaches to the use of technology, which can sometimes result in families fearing or avoiding any form of digital technology use with their children, resulting in other barriers or challenges. We should try to direct families and others towards accurate information so that they can make decisions that support the academic and social-emotional well-being of their children.
*** As I was searching for articles this week, I also came across this article: Social Media: Challenges and Concerns for Families, which articulates some of the challenges facing children and adolescents during this digital age and the power of social media, as well as information and recommendations for parents and families (“digital parenting advice”).
Hosokawa, R., & Katsura, T. (2018). Association between mobile technology use and child adjustment in early elementary school age. PloS One, 13(7), e0199959-e0199959. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0199959