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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Twenty years ago, children were playing outside all day, riding
bikes, playing sports and building forts. Children of the past created their own form
of play that didn’t require costly equipment or parental supervision. Those children
got up and moved around. Their sensory world was nature based and simple. Family
time meant spending time doing chores, and children had expectations to meet on a
daily basis. Families came together at the dining room table to eat and talk about
their day. Even after dinner, that same dining table became the center for baking,
crafts and homework.
Things are quite different these days because of technology’s impact on the 21st century
family. While juggling school, work, home, and community activities, parents now
rely heavily on technology to make their lives faster and more efficient. The technology
that was meant to make life easier could well be causing a disintegration of core
values that held families together years ago. Technology as simple as TV, Internet,
video games, iPads, and cell phones has advanced so rapidly, that families do not
even notice the impact on their family structure and lifestyles. A 2010 study showed
that elementary-aged children average over seven hours per day on some form of entertainment
technology, seventy-five percent of children have TV’s in their bedrooms, and 50 percent
of North American homes have the TV on all day. Families no longer engage in the
dining room table conversations that were common just a few short years ago. Family
sit-down dinners have been replaced by the “big screen” and take out meals.
Children who rely on technology for the majority of their play or entertainment, limit
their creativity and imagination because their bodies have not fully developed optimal
sensory and motor development. Bodies that sit all day are bombarded with so much
sensory stimulation that it could be causing some kids to become "hard-wired for high
speed". This could contribute to the growing number of children who are entering
school struggling with self-control and the attention skills needed for learning.
Short attention skills can also become behavior management problems for teachers
in the classroom.
Today's technology offers somewhat frenzied, chaotic entertainment to a young sedentary
body. Studies are showing that the Impact of the advancing technology on children
manifests in the form of increased physical, psychological and behavior disorders.
Health and education systems are also beginning to see a connection. Child obesity
and diabetes, increased diagnoses of ADHD and autism, coordination disorder, sensory
processing disorder, and sleep disorders are associated with technology overuse.
So what is a parent to do? No one can argue the benefits of advanced technology.
In this fast-paced world with both parents working long hours, parents are increasingly
resorting to providing their children with more TV, video games, and cell phone devices.
Technology could, however, be creating a huge disconnect between parent and child.
Parents need to set limits on the amount of screen time to which their kids are exposed.
They should take time to turn off the TV or laptop to play a game or read a book
with the children. Kids need lots of hugging, playing, and rough-housing. Parents
should make sure their kids have lots of face-to-face interaction with friends and
family. Parents are the children's main role models, so it is important that the
kids see them set down the cellphones when talking and interacting with others. If
doing the "real" thing is more fun than watching it on a screen, the kids will put
down those devices and join in! Providing some "real" things for parents and the
kids to do together will help reduce screen time. Technology is an awesome thing,
but it does have its downfalls when it comes to youngsters.
We have several 4-H clubs for our Garland county youth who are 5 to 19 years old.
For more information on all the fun 4-H activities there are, call the Extension Office
at 623-6841 or email Linda Bates at email@example.com.
Are you interested in joining an existing Extension Homemakers Club? EHC is the largest
volunteer organization in the state. For information on EHC call 623-6841 or email
Attention Gardening Enthusiasts! A new Master Gardeners training class will soon
begin. Please call for an application, or drop by the office at 236 Woodbine if you
want to take the training. If you’re interested in becoming a Master Gardener and would like more information,
you’re welcome to attend their monthly meeting on the 3rd Thursday of each month at 1 pm at the Elks Lodge. You may also call the Extension
office on 623-6841 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative
By Linda Bates County Extension Agent - 4-HThe Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Linda Bates County Extension Agent - 4-H
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
236 Woodbine Hot Springs AR 71901
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal
access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to
participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension
office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible
persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national
origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information,
or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity