Digital Addiction in Children: Part 2

I love it that the new technology has made life easier and more comfortable, from cars, computers, gadgets to medical technology and everything that was almost impossible several years ago. But as a teacher of very young children, I am saddened by the truth that more and more children in the generation Alpha have behavioral problems due to this digital thing.

I often thought that perhaps, maybe it is just the effect of the ever-changing world. Lately, though, I realized that the many problems among children now is brought about by the digital craze among their millennial parents who were already exposed to the computer early on. This cellphone thing has a lot to do with the changes in young children.

Situations are getting worse in the tutorial center where I work. In the past, we only have children who were either slow learners or fast learners. Now, we are encountering so many problems among children who are as young as two. Many of these children are children of parents who can afford to provide their very young kids with gadgets such as cellphones, iPods, tablets, laptops and other electronic gadgets. Many of them cannot talk properly. Some are hyperactive. Some do not know how to play with toys anymore because they are already used to just watching television or playing online games which is very unhealthy for a growing up child. Others have poor concentration. There’s this young child who often comes to school yawning and still sleepy and when we asked the mother why she told us that her son sleeps too late watching movies and games on his laptop.

one-year-lold children are now going to school

My grandson who is only one year old and three months started holding the cellphone when he was only six months old. I told the mother and father that introducing the cellphone to their son at a very young age is unhealthy for him. But of course, everybody has a cellphone to be busy with these days. So my grandson was introduced the electronic gadget at a very early age. When he was nine months old, he started getting fascinated by YouTube videos. Although they are educational because his parents including me, allowed him to watch cartoon movies and children’s songs a few hours a day, it became a daily routine that became a problem in the long run.

My grandson would cry and go wild if we don’t let him watch YouTube either on the TV or the cellphone. Both parents are working and they hire a daytime baby sitter when they are both at work. I do my part by babysitting whenever I can and I found out the problem when I started taking care of him every day.

He used to be a very calm baby up to eight months, and then at nine months, he became irritable and hyperactive. And he hated being stalled in his playpen. So to make things easier for us, the TV or the cellphone is the easiest way to keep him busy without moving around and climbing the stairs, tables and chairs or throwing his toys around.

I should be honest to tell you that I am also guilty of using the television to make babysitting manageable. I am almost sixty and this babysitting job is tough for me. So if my grandson is irritable, I would put on the TV which is conveniently connected to YouTube and let my grandson watch nursery songs or cartoon movies.

I started reading books to my grandson when he was still 4 months old. Sitting on my lap, I would read to him book after book while he listened. At six months when he was able to sit, we would both sit on the floor and scan the pages of the books. He preferred listening to me read the books than playing with his toys.

Children change every day.

Things changed when he turned ten months and he found other things more interesting than the books.  His interest in books was directed to his interest in watching television and holding his parent’s cellphones and watching online songs and children’s movies. He would push away the book if I told him that I was going to read the book for him. I noticed the changes as the days passed. This is why very young children should not be introduced to electronic gadgets at an early age. It is still better for them to play with traditional toys and books rather than electronic games.

My grandson cannot talk yet. His words are only eh and ah. This is why he often resorts to crying and getting irritable when he wants something. This speech thing is a problem of many parents in our learning center. And we found out that this is the result of too much time on the computer, laptop, iPod and cellphone. The children lack the time to play with other kids and talk to them which we observed is one of the causes of delayed speech. As a teacher for more than thirty years of very young children, this is our observation. Children who do not socialize with other kids are often delayed in their speech.

This brings us back to my grandson who cannot talk yet at the age of one. His father started talking when he was six when he could say, mama and papa. So at the age of one, although not very clear, he was able to name most of the things around him.

I then suggested that my grandson should attend classes in our tutorial center when he was one year and three months old. He was excited during the first day of school. He sat down with the older children who were more than two years old and three and played with them. He also joined the class activities which included singing, dancing and coloring; all these, of course, are with our help.

It’s now one month since my grandson attended classes and he is still having fun. Hopefully, he will not get tired of attending classes. He loves the part where the teacher shows an object that begins with the letter that is being discussed for the week. And the part when they sing the alphabet song while pointing to each letter on the posters we provide for them.

Very young children are easy to handle and teach. And the truth is, children are different nowadays because they are exposed to several educational materials at a very young age. So the result is, even one-year-old children can identify different kinds of things as compared to children several years ago. But the problem is that many children have behavioral problems because they do not anymore know how to interact with other children. Many children have delayed speech and have problems playing with other children. And the reason is that they are addicted to online activities that consume most of their time.

The problem with these children is that once they are addicted to gadgets, they forget the most important part of their growing up stage which is food and sleep. Many of our pupils who are addicted to electronic gadgets lack sleep and often miss their meals. And many parents are complaining about this problem because they cannot do anything. One parent said her child who is only three years old sleeps at two in the morning because he knows how to unlock the cellphone using the password. While his parents are sleeping, he is playing online games or watching videos.

We always advise parents to keep the electronic gadgets away from their children as much as possible but the problem is, many parents use these gadgets as babysitters because they are also too busy to take care of their children.

There are many great things that technology has contributed to the children but there are also several negative points that the new technology has caused the young people.

Wait for my next post about the interesting things that may shock you about very young children who grew up being baby-seated by electronic gadgets.

Recommended Reading:

Digital Addiction in Children: Part 1

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