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Sep 29

The ‘Screen Age’… Too Much TECH And The Impact

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Today’s modern life is besieged with techno products as they have been growing rapidly to become an important part of our lives. However, sociologists, psychologists, and behavioral experts report that it’s use is producing negative effects on children and youth. Some are now reporting consequences of such digital habits – and they don’t like the outcomes.

Neuro-therapist and doctor of psychology Dr. Mari Swingle states that…”we are starting to notice changes in early learning and development as a result of the increasing reliance on interactive technology, and the evidence does not bode well for the future of human social behavior or intellectual development.” According to her beliefs, this technology obviously isn’t going away – if anything it’s likely to become more inescapable in our daily lives. However, it has become quite clear that there are more negative impacts although positive or negative effects of any particular ‘thing’ depend on the way we use it.

Health Problems

Technology is leading to many health issues such as poor posture, back pain, and weak eyesight.

Poor Academic Performance

The ‘techno addiction’ is impacting academic performance because valuable time is wasted without worrying about studies, resulting in poor academic performance in many cases.

Negative Impact on Writing Skills

Children are said to miss out on the broader context that would help them understand what they are reading, not to mention expanding their vocabulary. Good writing is ‘art’, and every person ‘should’ own it but technology has contributed negatively here as well. Standard English is not used in text messaging and chatting, and no one cares about spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

Negative Impact on Character

Children are the future of our country, our world. They have started to ‘drift away’ from societal and moral values. Indeed, the Internet is working as a ‘curse’ for character building. Rather than using it in a productive manner, children and youth access it as a source of adult content. Researchers are finding these polarizing behaviors in terms of sexuality whereby kids are incredibly brazen on their phone and texting but are, however, very awkward in person-to-person discussions unless the relationship has been objectified.

Get this! For every ‘sexting scandal’ that is reported, an unknown multitude of parents and Teens – mostly girls – are just beginning to grasp what it means to live in a world where nothing digital ever truly disappears. A seventh grader’s ‘sexting’ was meant to impress the boy. Then he shared it. It nearly destroyed her … And everyone saw it (September 6, 2016).

Negative Impact on Social Relationships

Medical and social experts reveal that the consequences of reduced attachment and impeded social interaction have become wide-ranging and troubling, as children and youth are communicating through their devices and not learning adult social skills. Rather than spending ‘some good time’ together they forego in-person conversation in favor of peer connection via social media, texting each other, sometimes in the same room or walking behind each other! They connect with friends and relatives via text messaging and chatting, which means connecting with others in the ‘virtual’ and not in the ‘real’ world.

Personal ‘throwback’ episode: I was in a New York Italian restaurant last year. Family of 6 came in, sat down, and everyone’s gadgets came out. The waiter delivered the water and was waiting for order questions. It took 18 minutes (I timed) before the Dad noticed! What in the world is so important? I say, save the money, stay home; sit on the couch instead of ‘pretending’ to spend quality time with family!

What about Our Athletes?

What does this have to do with our athletes or teams? Do you have any idea how much time they spend on their ‘electronic toys’, walking, sitting, pretending to listen … maybe sleeping with their techno tools? Let’s face it; they too could be ‘hooked’! Well, at least one good thing, swimmers can’t take their gadgets into the water … yet! We have to look at potential effects, especially social ones, which could disturb dynamic and interactive relationships in individual and team sports. So, what can we do as coaches to educate athletes to ‘curb’ their techno usage? It really depends on how you see your role as a coach. Are you only interested in the ‘sporting-side’ of your athletes or also concerned about their general well-being, emotional, psychological, and social development?

When I was coaching at ASU, and also the Aquatics Director and Head Coach of an Age group team in Tempe, the Coaching staff hosted the ‘Friday King Arthur Roundtable’ with parental permission. The discussions took place outside regular training hours. Coaches and athletes engaged in a wide range of topics, including those based on ethical and moral decision-making in sport participation such as ‘fair play’, drugs in sport, respect for coaches and teammates, etc. Coaches facilitated the debates, presenting the ‘pros and cons’ of issues, positive and negative outcomes, and potential consequences. Maybe, just maybe – you coaches out there in the sporting world should try to establish such a discussion table to build a more entrusting and interactive relationship with your athletes.

Here we go!

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