Okay, so HuffPo posted a list of 10 Reasons your kid should be denied access to handheld technology because…..reasons. Here it is in all it’s glory.
I have so many issues with this article that I felt the need to individually break this down and respond. So here goes:
1. Rapid brain growth – This is by far the closest thing she has to a point. And it only really appies to children under the age of say…5. (Just to be as arbitrary.) OVEREXPOSURE is what is condemned by the CORROBORATION evidence that there is “decreased ability to self regulate.” Repeat after me: “CORROBORATION DOES NOT EQUAL CAUSATION.” I’d argue that the children more prone to be unable to self regulate would also have mitigating factors like genetics, and perhaps uninvolved parents.
2. Delayed Development Yes there are issues with kids spending all their time on videos and video games. We have known this
since the iPad came out. Wait… since DVDs came out… I mean…since VHS came out. Wait…since Nickelodeon. Television.Radio programming. Picture books. Books. Since FIRE came out, okay? YES. Kids need physical stimulation to go along with mental stimulation, but giving a 3 year old your android tablet while they’re in the back seat of the car is NOT detrimental to their health.
3. Epidemic Obesity This is almost a good point. Yes, there is an obesity problem. Yes, TV is a problem, but again with the “facts” that are scary, but have no real relevance to the statement. The point here is that being fat is bad for you, but the reason given is TV and video games, not handheld technology. THIS IS THE SAME THING OUR GENERATION WENT THROUGH 20 YEARS AGO. People are fatter. Yes people may even be less active than a generation ago (show me some actual documented and peer reviewed facts please, not just links to studies that you are extracting single line cherry picked quotes to prove your point.) Still, add less natural foods, soda, HFCS, reduced PE classes, less recess in school, people living too far away to walk anywhere, and you have an obesity problem, regardless of whether or not there are video games. (Interesting fact: kids who are not naturally athletic and are picked on by the more athletic kids will find something to do that they might be good at instead of suffering through ridicule at not being able to make a three pointer on demand. Weird, huh?)
4. Sleep Deprivation Point one: made beautifully, and then fall flat. 60% of parents do not monitor their kids activity. THAT IS THE PROBLEM. THE GAMES ARE NOT THE PROBLEM. THE PARENTS ARE THE PROBLEM. Seriously? The afterthought of a point that kids are sleep deprived because of the games goes back to the first point: PARENTS NEED TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR KIDS.
5. Mental Illness We live in an era where being a boy means you automatically have ADHD. Obviously technology is evil because we have scary numbers that we didn’t have before technology. Granted, The medical system is biased towards diagnosing everything it can as a disease, since we’re in a for-profit health system….but I’m sure that’s just a coincidence. This is a hyperbolic argument based in a small amount of fact, wrapped in FUD. (Nice job casually throwing in the “many on dangerous psychotropic drugs!” quip. Did you learn that from Fox News? Hint: that’s a strawman argument.)
6. Aggression Okay, you got me. GTA5 is definitely going to make your kid an asshole. Assuming you are the parent stupid enough to let your 5 year old play GTA5. Or even your 12 year old. Your 14 year old might play it anyway at a friend’s house, but again PARENTING. Minecraft is a great game and fosters creativity. Portal is a great puzzle game and physics simulator. There are as many positive effect of video games as there are negative ones. The trick is fostering the positives and filtering the negatives. Again, PARENTING.
7. Digital dementia This is just a repeated #5 with a second link. Still doesn’t make it true. Even worse, this phrase poisons the whole article. This is the heart of pseudoscience and instilling fear in people who the author is trying to convince to side with. It’s dishonest and disingenuous and does a disservice to the readers. Google digital dementia. Go ahead, I’ll wait. There is no such thing except in articles on Fox, the Daily Mail, and dozens of “I’m a Mom so I know everything” blogs. More to the point, the places that DO describe “digital dementia” describe it as the brain not remembering things like phone numbers because we keep them stored in our phones. It has NOTHING to do with not paying attention, nor is calling it a mental illness helping the cause..
8. Addictions Based on the loosest possible definition of the loosest possible association, sure, there’s such a thing as Technology Addiction. After all, you’re reading this on the INTERNET. You must be addicted, else you’d still get all your news and opinions from the newspaper. If you want to buy in that parents are not paying attention to their kids because of technology, fine, put down the technology and join Technology Anonymous. For you rational people, don’t blame the phone on not paying attention to your kids. Again: PARENTING.
9. Radiation emission This is real folks. And there ain’t NOTHING you can do about it. Radiation is NOT SCARY. It’s simply a scientific principle of energy being spent and light, heat, radio (which is a form of light, btw), X-ray (also a form of light), gamma rays (still light), nuclear radiation (yup, light) all are simply dissipation of energy. There is a common fear of radiation because some forms can be dangerous, especially high energy waves like X rays and gamma rays, and even some fairly low energy, like ultraviolet (sunburns and skin cancer- maybe we should all live underground?) You are exposed to radio waves every second of every day. You are exposed to radiation every second of every day. You will receive more radiation, and harmful radiation at that, every time you ride in a commercial aircraft than from a lifetime next to a phone. (Flying above a large portion of the atmosphere exposes you to solar radiation.) LCD screens, phone transmitters, bluetooth, etc. do not cause ionizing radiation and DO NOT CAUSE CANCER. One doctor saying it does (or rather *might*) is not damning evidence. Society has had cell phones for 30+ years, and the first several generations were MUCH more powerful than the ones we carry now. If it did cause cancer we’d have an epidemic of cancer, and we do not, despite the fears expressed by news outlets. Cancerous brain tumor rates are flat, and have been for nearly 50 years. There are more cases, yes, but that’s because there ARE MORE PEOPLE. People are living longer, and the older you are the more likely you are to get cancer- that’s how cancer actually works. There are more diagnoses of cancer now because there is MUCH better screening and deaths from cancer are actually listed as cancer instead of “Natural Causes”. Has cancer increased in the last 50 years? Probably. But even if it has, it’s not epidemic in the people that have used technology the last 50 years as you would expect from this assertion. This one is ABSOLUTE BOGUS BULLSHIT from the fear mongers. (Oh, and check this out to learn more about radiation.)
10. Unsustainable I’m fairly certain that is one was added just to make a tenth entry. That or to help the people playing Buzzword Bingo. Unsustainable? Really? What exactly is unsustainable? The environmental aspect? The keeping up with tech is unsustainable? This makes absolutely no sense.
More to the point, here’s what’s really wrong with this: not only is this wrong, NOT being versed in technology at a young age is what’s REALLY unsustainable. If you want a job in the future, manufacturing is out, and technology is in. Even manufacturing needs to be versed in technology. The problem here is PARENTING. Not technology. Parents that let their kids do whatever they want, whenever they want to do it.
You want to be proactive? Teach your kids how to code. Teach them how to set up your network. Install an operating system (try a FREE open source one!) You don’t know how? LEARN. You’ll also discover you can keep up with what your kids are doing if you learn how to set up operating systems, learn about parental controls, or even learn how to set up OPENDNS on your home network, and filter bad sites or track what your kids are doing. Don’t just demonize the tech you don’t understand. And certainly don’t ban it. Moderation and parenting win in this world – book burning was soooo two centuries ago. E-book burning isn’t quite the same, and would still be just as stupid.
I am NOT SAYING free games and Tablets and Phones for EVERYBODY!!!!!
Kids need to go outside. They need to play. They need to go to bed at a reasonable hour. They need to do their homework. They need to eat their damned vegetables. They need reasonable limits on technology uses, and they need to be monitored, and THEY NEED TO KNOW THAT YOU KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING. Be the parent, and don’t have digital babysitters. I repeat DON’T HAVE DIGITAL BABYSITTERS. But don’t make your kid fall behind because you are too lazy to parent.