The Impact and Importance of Children’s Technology Use

Step into any home, visit any classroom, and you’ll observe an emerging trend: devices like computers, tablets, and even smartphones in the hands of — sometimes, surprisingly young — kids. As children’s use of technology grows, it raises key questions about the impact on their development.

Tech gets a bad rap, and for good reason — nearly 2 in 5 parents consider excessive screen time the most significant threat to their child’s health, according to a recent study conducted by Preply, the online language-learning marketplace. But it’s not all about the digital bogeyman. Technology also gives kids unprecedented opportunities to learn, imagine, and grow.

So, are we raising a generation of “iPad kids”? Or is there more to it than mindless scrolling?

Time Spent on Tech

Kids these days love their screens, and the numbers prove it. On average, children dedicate a whopping 2.7 hours to screens daily, outside of school and homework. It doesn't stop there — as kids age, screen time swells from two hours for two to five year olds to 3.6 hours for teenagers.

This hasn't gone unnoticed by parents. In fact, 82% feel their kids are clocking in too much screen time, and 86% are trying to limit it. Despite these efforts, since 2020, 68% of parents have seen an uptick in their child's screen engagement. That's an extra 1.4 hours on screens according to mom and dad, with teens leading the pack, overdoing it by around 2 hours.

Sure, we're in uncharted waters. We're finding ways to strike a balance between tapping into technology's educational potential and preventing digital overload. With the screen time surge, especially thanks to the pandemic, parenting has become this mad scramble to figure out how to weave technology into our children’s lives in a healthy, beneficial way. Bottom line, it's a work in progress.

Potential Threats of Too Much Time Online

Unlike their kiddos, parents aren’t so keen on screens. As many as 45% worry their kids might be developing a screen addiction. Couple this with the 57% of parents who think too much screen time is rough on their children's social skills and physical health. We're not just talking about sore thumbs from gaming too long — it’s more fundamental, like losing the ability to strike up a conversation or kick a ball around.

And that’s just scratching the surface. Just over half (51%) of parents firmly believe that screen overload is throwing their kids’ focus out the window, making it much harder for them to learn, let alone achieve developmental milestones.

These stats paint a picture of the evolving challenges of modern parenting. It’s no longer simply about negotiating bedtime or eating vegetables. Parents are charting new territories as they aim to cultivate a healthy relationship between their kids and screens.

This balancing act — fostering digital literacy and agility while ensuring their kid's physical health and social skills aren't left in the dust — can be extremely exhausting, especially when it’s hard, if not next to impossible, to monitor just how much screen time your kids are clocking.

Positive Impacts of Tech

While parents may express concern over their children's tech time, we've got to be fair and give technology its due. In fact, a significant 68% of parents see the bright side, acknowledging that technology plays an important role in boosting language development. Interestingly, it's the low-income parents leading this charge, most likely to vouch for tech's impact in promoting language skills in children.

Over half (55%) of parents also notice their children's vocabulary broadening thanks to technology. Creativity also gets a boost, according to the 53% of parents who say technology helps their kids bring their imaginations to life. So while battling overuse may be tough, it's clear that technology also earns its role in catalyzing important aspects of a child's development.

Some Final Thoughts

Let's not forget that old adage: You can have too much of a good thing. And when it comes to technology, it's quite the double-edged sword. But in reality, it’s neither all good nor all bad — it’s how we harness it that counts.

For parents, it’s about making sure kids aren’t just mindlessly swiping away, but instead are using digital resources to explore, create, and learn. Because, when approached carefully, there’s no denying technology is a serious asset to the hurdles of growing up.

Read next: Six-Week Facebook Break Reduces Belief in Fake News, Lessens Political Engagement, Affects Voter Turnout

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