Authored by Sally Hannon
Afterschool Program Coordinator, Lake Run Elementary
The weeks prior to children returning to the school year are among the least structured and least supervised span of time, and thus present unlimited entertainment and distraction needs. The tablet, laptop or cell phone have now replaced adult supervision. Technology is a permanent fixture for youth and it provides many positive educational, social, and emotional outlets for youth. Many studies estimate that children between ages 5-18 spend about seven hours online every day. As with anything that is overused, significant damage is inevitable.
This form of entertainment grossly limits their imagination, creativity, and motor skills. It also increases physical, psychological and behavior disorders in developing children. Because the human brain continues to develop well into your early twenties, psychologists, neurologists and pediatricians agree that the increased presence of electronics is augmenting children’s minds. There is also strong evidence that increased use of technology is leading kids to lose their ability to feel compassion and empathy toward those who are feeling pain, sorrow, anger, or other type of emotions.
Technology isn’t going away, but for our youth, it is helpful to approach its use with balance. Perhaps for every hour they spend outside throwing a Frisbee with friends or family, they are rewarded with one hour of a video game. If they visit your nearby library and pick a book to take home (and read it), reward them with one television show episode. The more parents and guardians provide diverse chances for our youth can spend their time, the better you will enhance their creative, social and emotional learning.
Salt Lake County Youth Services encourages and teaches youth life style balance when it comes to the importance of helping them develop and choose healthy options. For more information about our Afterschool Program call 358-468-4500 or visit our website at www.slco.org/youth