Screenagers is the title that has been awarded to the first generation of truly digital native children. These kids were born in 2007, the year of the first iPhone, have spent their life on screens and now they’re getting ready to graduate from primary school. But what effect has the technology that raised them actually had?
While kids before them grew up with activity centers and baby jumpers, baby rattles and mini rainmakers, screenagers grew up studying screens more than faces, learning how to navigate a smartphone before they could navigate their way through their home, and their lives becoming one easy to access digital anecdote that was recorded, edited and published using the latest app. The days of recording milestones in a paper book with photo’s glued alongside are long gone.
But has this technology been of benefit to the growth and development of these kids, or has it been a hindrance?
According to The Daily Telegraph, Sept 18, 2019, “Early learning educators and psychologists warn excessive screen time is exacerbating sleep problems, increasing homework distractions, and causing an unprecedented level of family disputes in Australia.”
Despite the fact that using technology can also be beneficial, there’s no conclusive research on how the high usage of tech will affect this tech-savvy generation.
Child psychologist Brad Marshall said “This is the first generation where technology will affect them their whole childhood...We won’t know the full effects of it until we have a generation go through it.”
The Daily Telegraph has cited Dr Marshall saying “Even children without addictive issues could experience setbacks as a result of high device use ... as the blue light emitted by electronic screens was affecting the sleep of many children.”
And it’s not surprising to note that sleep plays a hugely important role in children’s ability to focus, to comprehend and retain information both in and out of school.
So how do we curb the problems that are evident with high tech usage? How can we ensure that our kids aren’t suffering from digital addiction and that the use of tech doesn't negatively impact our children’s learning - both academically and socially? How do we, as adults and carers, keep track of the use of digital media and its content of our kids?
One way is to raise responsible screenagers and to involve them in understanding how they can best use digital technologies to achieve defined goals. Using systems that are already in place in many schools, eg. edQuire, to capture and display the data of what, when, how and why they are using digital technology can make a huge difference by allowing students to gain more of an insight into their own digital behaviors. Let's not be afraid to measure the efficacy of digital technologies with our kids, and to let them see the data, too. After all, “What gets measured gets managed” (Peter Drucker).