Computers and Internet. Friends or enemies of our children
One reason often makes parents worry is the relationship of the child with the computer. Children, even in very young ages, are familiar with computers and Internet, as its part of their everyday life. Scientists are sounding the alarm about their use, while highlighting the various problems it causes. This does not mean that completely should we hold our lives, and with proper use they can be useful and fun.
What are the risks?
The long practice of computer lurking risks relating to both body and psychology. Some of the problems identified are:
• Obesity, which is caused by a sedentary lifestyle
• Headaches and tension
• Pain in the eyes, because of our exposure on the screen
• Joint pains, stiff shoulders, and curvature of the spine due to long hours or incorrect attitudes
• Pain, swelling and arm tendonitis using the mouse
• Isolation from family, peers and friends
• Difficulty in concentrating
• Learning disabilities
• Disturbed sleep or lethargy
• Emotional, mental and psychological problems
• Games with violent content cause increased aggression, especially in children who have a predisposition.
• The major side effect is ‘ADDICTION’ in a game or Internet generally, a phenomenon often observed particularly in teens. According to surveys, about 50% of users feel anxious if they find a day without internet access.
How to understand if the child is addicted?
Some symptoms are:
- Eating disorders.
- Disturbances in sleep time.
- Dry eyes.
- Tension and frustration when no Internet access
- Headaches and migraines.
- Neglect of personal hygiene.
- Reduced sports.
Naturally, in such a matter we could not forget the role of Social Media Networks, whose use has taken off in the last five years. The main social networks are Facebook and Twitter.
It is unprecedented that the users (regardless of age) are willing to give any information / detail asked for their lives and actually seek to give as much information as possible about what they do, how they feel and where they are at all times. They give more importance to the “likes” and online friends, rather than real social life. Worthy assessment is whoever has the most online friends. Especially teens post photos or “status” trying to collect those coveted “likes”.
These networks, if not properly used, promote a sense of complacency and self-promotion, display incorrectly standards and create a new indirect communication mode, in which participants are ‘hiding’ behind a computer screen.
Moreover, there are countless cases, mainly of teenagers, who speak through these networks with strangers and even agree to meet. The risks in such meetings are too many.
How can we creatively use the internet and the computer?
However, the limited and controlled use can be helpful for children. They get familiar with new technologies and also can be informed and entertained.
• The first contact with the computer can be done after 3 years, accompanied by natural parenthood. There are interesting videos (eg cartoons or songs), which can also be educating, even in early childhood. At this age it is good not to engage over 20 minutes.
• The primary school children (ages 6-12) can use a pc in more constructive ways. Sure, you will need it for some school work, and there are pages with online exercises / games for all courses to study and practice in pleasant way.
• For teens, dealing with computer is almost inevitable, both for school work and for their entertainment. They deal mainly with social media.
• The computer can improve the performance of children with learning difficulties (write texts in PC-use auto-correcting to see the spelling mistakes)
• The internet in general helps us to be informed on various topics, communicate with friends who are far away etc.
Therefore, proper and limited their use can be helpful in our lives.
What is the proper use of a computer?
• The feet must touch the floor well and back to straight
• The eyes should be level with the screen
• The forearms should be parallel to the floor and the shoulder blades do not protrude
• The mouse should have the appropriate size for the hand of the user
• The display brightness not being too different than the brightness of the room
• All desktop computers (desktops) help more the correct posture relatively to portable ones(laptops)
• The bigger the screen the less harmful for the eyes
We Watch Out
• It takes 15-minute breaks every 20 minutes to rest the eyes and the numbness out of your body with various exercises and stretches
• The computer must be in a common area so that the child has access only when we permit him to and not being isolated when using it
• Children should not use the computer more than 1 hour a day
- Parents need to know and control the pages that children visit. Through services in the computer operating system, parents have the opportunity to ‘filter’ the content of the pages and advertisements, and to limit the time that children have at their disposal.
• The computer should not be used as alternative “baby sitter”, but as an opportunity to address the whole family together.
• Children should ask their parents before entering a page
• A computer should be used neither as a reward nor punishment
What advice we give to children?
• We do not disclose our personal information, we write the least possible information for our lives
• If we see something we do not like or it seems strange, we inform our parents
• We do not trust the information we read on the internet and even more the one that comes from unknown people who may send us a message
• Our contacts (online friends on social media) should be people we know.
• We do not publish photos of our face.
• We talk only with people we know and do not respond to ‘strange’ messages.
WE DO NOT KNOW WHO IS behind each profile. HE MAY NOT HAVE ANY CONNECTION WITH WHAT APPEARS. WE DO NOT TRUST HIM!!!!!
Because children “listen to us more when they see us, than when we talk to them,” we try to teach them by example, by following the tips above.
Computers and the internet have become part of our lives. Their use appears inevitable, since they facilitate us in many aspects. To avoid the contact of our children with technology will not bring any results. Instead, children will not learn to use it properly, something that will result only to negative consequences. Eventually, we will have to learn to live with computers.
Vosniadou, S. (2006) Children, Schools and computers. Athens: Gutenberg- George & Kostas Dardanos
Tsitsi A Fresh A. Usage and Internet Abuse. Proceedings of the 1st Intensive Seminar on Adolescent Medicine
Dinkmeyer, Don., Carlson, J., Nelson, R. (1985) Children and computers: Computers in Education, Athens: Gutenberg – George & Kostas Dardanos, 1985.
Source in Greek Language: fylada.blogspot.gr