With effects both positive and negative, electronic devices have had a stronghold over children and the entire generation
It is an undeniable fact that in today's world, electronic gadgets have become an integral part of our lives. Besides, the more gadgets are introduced, the more dependent we get on these devices.
These electronic gadgets have had many positive contributions as well as adverse effects on our lives. More importantly, to cope with the present technologically advanced society, the usage of electronic gadgets by children has also increased.
Children spend a significant time of their day dedicated primarily to entertainment sources via television, computers, video games, and other mobile devices.
Recently, the Covid-19 pandemic has aggravated the situation. With the schools being closed and children doing online classes, they are spending the rest of their days watching television or playing video games - eventually influencing their behaviour pattern.
Children of different ages are often deprived of tender care and proper guidance from their parents who have jobs and other commitments. Consequently, electronic gadgets have become one of the most popular means of entertainment for children.
Despite a few positive impacts, these devices have many short as well as long term effects on children's behaviour.
Different studies have found that extreme dependency on electronic devices hinders children's physical, mental, communication and social skill, education and other areas of development.
Above and beyond, some children are more interested in using electronic gadgets as opposed to playing outside, which allows less physical activities and increased chance of obesity.
From the analysis of different theories, it is apparent that uses of electronic gadgets influence children's behaviours.
Modernisation theory shows how technological advancement transforms their behaviour patterns, cultural values and norms, since modernisation increases their dependency on different types of electronic gadgets.
From Piaget's theory of cognitive development, it can be seen that the use of these gadgets influences the development of children's intelligence. By scrutinising the theory, it was found that children under the age of four or five tend to believe that virtual characters in movies, cartoons and video games are real, and they observe and try to imitate the characters.
Consequently, their thoughts and cognitive development are influenced by these virtual characters. Cultivation theory shows how different thoughts, ideas, cultures, attitudes and values are cultivated into the behaviour of children through the fantasy or virtual world of electronic gadgets.
The more they spend their time using electronic devices, the more they will relate the real world with the virtual world.
Similarly, social learning theory explains how children learn from society by observing and imitating behaviours that are rewarded, and avoiding the behaviours that come with punishments. Accordingly, gadgets influence the behavioural development of children.
Electronic gadgets have both positive as well as the negative impact on children's education.
Electronic gadgets provide easy access to educational websites, online courses, tutorials, e-books, video lectures and other visual aids that contribute positively to children's education.
In contrast, children spend less time studying than on different devices. As a result, they are reluctant to go to school, unable to complete their homework and obtain lower grades in exams.
Excessive use of such devices has a variety of effects on children's understanding, concentration, sense of proportionality or ability to judge, personality, motivation, cognitive and other behaviours.
It also causes mental disturbance, anxiety and depression, aggressive behaviour, lack in confidence, competitive mentality, etc. Contrariwise, earlier research found a sense of imagination: The use of electronic devices enhances innovative thinking and psycho-motor skills in children.
There are instances when children became addicted to electronic devices due to excessive usage.
Additionally, as children are more attached to the simulated world, they are more dependent on virtual friends and families than real-world friends and families, which affect their communications and social skills.
As a result, their number of intimate friends and interests to participate in social events are also declining. Virtual characters also influence their food habits and choices of clothing.
They are more involved with the world of fantasy than reality. Additionally, children get easy access to adult and violent content that teaches them bad manners and aggressive behaviour.
Excessive use of these gadgets also affects their eyesight.
Nonetheless, children can learn a different language easily by using electronic devices but they tend to mix in other languages and accents while they talk, which may end up sounding unorthodox.
The incorporation of modern electronic gadgets into our daily lives has helped to improve the quality of life and promote communal wellbeing.
Regardless of the constructive and beneficial use of such devices, they also come with their set of adverse effects, especially on children when they use these devices excessively or carelessly.
Therefore, measures may be taken so that the benefit of electronic gadgets can offset the negative effects.
In this regard, a parent may spend sufficient quality time with their children so they do not feel alone. By doing so, they will also be able to monitor and track their child's activities while they are using these devices.
They may restrict the use of devices for merely educational purposes and set a time limit by exerting their parental control and decision-making power over the uses of such devices by their children.
Furthermore, they may encourage their children to use it for educational purposes. Parents may help them by explaining the differences between reality and fantasy. Besides, the parents may also inspire them to play outside with their friends and siblings to develop social and communication skills and to keep themselves physically fit.
Instead of keeping children busy with devices, parents may occupy them with story or colouring books, toys, and puzzles. Lastly, they can ensure that electronic devices are not hampering their night rest.
Proper care, monitoring, motivation and appreciation, spending quality time, showering children with unconditional love and limiting children's use of electronic devices by the parent may offset the negative effects of gadgets and can keep the whole generation away from the negative impacts of electronic devices.
Mir Shoboocktagin Mahamud is a Commander of Bangladesh Navy.