20 years ago, children used to play outside all day, riding bikes, playing sports and building forts. Masters of imaginary games, children of the past created their own form of play that did not require costly equipment or parental supervision. Children of the past moved … a lot, and their sensory World was nature based and simple.
In the past, family time was often spent doing chores, and children had expectations to meet on a daily basis. The dining room table was a central place where families came together to eat and talk about their day, and after dinner became the center for baking, crafts and homework.
Today’s families are different. Technology’s impact on the 21st century family is fracturing its very foundation, and causing a disintegration of core values that long ago were the fabric that held families together.
Juggling school, work, home, and community lives, parents now rely on communication, information, and transportation technology to make their lives faster and more efficient. Entertainment technology has advanced so rapidly, that families have scarcely noticed the significant impact and changes to their family structure and lifestyles.
Eementary aged children use on average 7 hours per day of entertainment technology, 75% of these children have TV’s in their bedrooms, and 50% of homes have the TV on all day. Gone is the dining room table conversation, replaced by the big screen.
The impact of rapidly advancing technology on the developing child has seen an increase of physical, psychological and behavior disorders. Child obesity and diabetes are now national epidemics, causally related to technology overuse.
Diagnoses of ADHD, autism, coordination disorder, developmental delays, unintelligible speech, learning difficulties, sensory processing disorder, anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders are associated with technology overuse, and are increasing at an alarming rate.
Stimulation received through touching, hugging and play is critical for the development. Touch also activates the parasympathetic system lowering cortisol, adrenalin and anxiety. Nature and green space has not only a calming influence on children, but also is attention restorative and promotes learning.
It is important to come together as parents, teachers and therapists to help Society ‘wake up’ and see the devastating effects technology is having not only on our child’s physical, psychological and behavioral health, but also on their ability to learn and sustain personal and family relationships.