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It is true that a week hardly passes without a child being raped and brutalized in both the physical and virtual worlds. The majority of people draw a strong connection between these abuses and what happens in offline and online sports, as well as in the film. Any of these connections are undeniably real. There is now an atmosphere of paranoia around technology, and it appears to be polarized by apprehension and panic focused solely on fact. Technology and media is evolving at a very fast pace and this pace has left both parents, as well as, children stranded on either side of the generational divide (Buckingham, David) Just like in the ‘real’ world, the virtual world that is a product of technology contains a lot of risks, and children should not be left to navigate that path solo as they will be faced with many dangers. It is true to state that a majority of parents across the globe know how to protect their children in the ‘real’ world, however, they assume that their children have enough knowledge and wisdom to look after themselves virtual world that is a product of technology and this is where a majority of parents fail.
Technologies for Children
Technology also referred to as the cunning of hand by the Greeks is the collection of skills, methods, and techniques that are used in the production of goods, provision of services, as well as, the accomplishment of various objectives, for example, scientific investigations. It can be acknowledged that the simplest forms of technology included the creation of simple tools, for example, learning how to create and control fire, the creation of the wheel to aid in travelling and the transportation of goods, and in the current era the creation of the telephone, printing press, as well as, the internet to assist in communication. It can be acknowledged that technology has had a number of both positive and negative effects on human lives. On the positive part, technology has aided in the development of advanced technologies, for example, the global economy that is a product of globalization. However, on the negative part, technology has led to pollution and the depletion of some of earth’s natural resources. It is also important to note that it has also led to the degradation of societal values with many now questioning the ethics behind technology, as well as, its influence on the norms and values of society. It is important to note the high number of philosophical debates over whether technology entirely improves all human conditions, or whether it improves some while corrupting and worsening others for example, the reactionary, anarcho-primitivism, and Neo-luddism movements. This particular paper is a long report with the title ‘Technologies for Children’ and will prove that due to the fact that a clear boundary between technologies meant for children and those that are meant for adults has remained undrawn for a long period of time, it has become difficult for a majority of parents to protect their children in the virtual world created by technology as they can in the ‘real’ world. This report will also provide recommendations that should be used by various stake holders to make technology safer for children.
The truth is told for the technology to offer a lot of opportunities for all the members of society and these include the children. The internet in particular allows them to explore the globe and this offers both benefits and risks and this also parallels to the offline technological world. Video games provide a lot of interactive experience to children; however, some of them are designed for the adults. It is true to state that technology is often met by a lot of public concern about the impact it has on society (Anderson & Bushman, 2001). In relation to movies and video games, there are those who link these forms of technology to the destructive and violent behavior some children exhibit (Anderson & Dill, 2000). The debates go further to point out the excessive use of technology by children who are usually at the expense of family interactions, as well as, other social activities. It is true to state that a majority of parents across the globe increasingly keep their children indoors in an attempt to protect them from dangers and risks that lark outside, however, in what can be described as a risk-averse culture scenario, these children will completely focus on the digital world and in the process expose themselves to the risks that exist in that world.
Children across the world have since the olden days been chatting with friends, playing games, studying, telling stories. It is, however, important to note that all these activities are now being supported by technology. From the use of the internet to the use of various multimedia tools, technology is rapidly influencing the lives of children, thus, changing the way they learn and live. Technology is becoming ever more important in the lives of children, therefore, there needs to be a surety that technology supports children in ways that makes sense, which is, helping them to become avid technology users, explorers, and learners. It can be acknowledged that for the past 20yrs, the Human-Computer Interaction Community (HCI), has been pursuing new ways to understand those who use technology (Arriaga, Esteves, Carneiro, & Monteiro, 2006). However, when it comes to children as the users of technology it has been very difficult to understand them and this is mainly due to the following reasons;
• A majority of children have difficulty verbalizing their thoughts
• The existing power structures
• Assumptions between children and adults
Therefore, a child’s input or the input of those who feel that particular elements of technology are not healthy for children has historically been minimized.
Children should be put at the center of every review and report in terms of both the process and the way evidence is researched on the potential effects of technology on children. The research debate on the effects of technology especially in relation to the violent content contained in movies, as well as, video games remains highly divided at the moment. However, technology and how children use it is rapidly moving making it very difficult for any form of research to keep up with it. It is crucial to acknowledged the work the Child Exploration and Online Protection Center (CEOP) has done as far as controlling the nature of illegal content children come into contact with in the internet which is a product of technology, however, the grey areas, for example, the 18 rated video games Gentile, Anderson, Yukawa, Ihori, Saleem, Ming, & Rowell Huesmann, 2009 that legalized should to a broad remit also have clearly defined boundaries that keep children from accessing them.
The voices of the young people, children, as well as, their parents should be used as evidence of some of the harms caused by technology. Those conducting studies in this particular areas should adopt a mixed research strategy that will help them better understand the risks that technology poses on children. To come up with a better approach of probability of risk, researchers need to focus on what children bring to technology, thus, be able to effectively utilize their understanding of children’s development.
The strengths and vulnerabilities of children need to be put into consideration and this is because they are factors that can discriminate against an element of technology that is harmful to children. It is also important to note that literature indicates that having ample knowledge in brain, as well as, child development will also significantly aid in understanding how children learn, thus, help researchers identify, as well as, manage the potential risks to children when using technology.
What do children bring to technology?
It is important to note that whatever children bring to technology is important when it comes to determining the potential impacts technology has on them. To be able to effectively use this particular model, researchers need to have a clear understanding of what drives the differences that each and every child has and this is usually influenced by the following 3 factors;
• The physiological factors, for example, emotions and attitudes
• The biological factors, for example, temperament
• The social-cultural context, for example, ideology and attitudes
This particular model is referred to as the bio psychosocial model and it helps researchers recognize the different levels of influence in a child’s development.
It is also important to note that a child’s, as well as, the brain’s development is also important when it comes to understanding what a child brings to technology. Note that a child’s brain develops in line with what the child experiences, for example, what a child experiences, online, offline, and in movies is of great importance. All the above-named factors combined significantly change a child’s experience in life, thus, the amount of technology used in an individual’s childhood has a significant impact on how the functioning, as well as, the structure of the brain develops. It is believed that brain development is entirely based on Hebbian process and in this process cells come together and strengthen the connections between themselves (Bartholow & Anderson, 2002). Therefore, with excess use of technology, a particular set of skills could show significant decrease, for example, running, jumping, throwing in general the physical skills. This is mainly because most of the time the child will be engaged on the screen. However, other skills that are less beneficial to an individual’s future, for example, concentration would show significant increase.
The Internet and how to Regulate it
The most valuable feature of the internet is that fact that it allows those who use it not only to interact with one another but to also to upload their own content. This presents a lot of risks to children as they may come into contact with inappropriate content from other contacts or they themselves may be tempted to upload inappropriate content. To address this particular risk, all the sites that host content should have user policies through which they can moderate themselves by warning and suspending the accounts of those who upload inappropriate content, as well as, taking that content down.
Better industrial incentives and harsher laws should be created to help moderate the inappropriate content being uploaded on various websites. It is important to acknowledged the importance of law that was passed by the Internet Service Provider’s Association (ISPA) (Blakemore & Choudhury, 2006), which states that those who host content and do not moderate it appropriately take the legal risk that they will be held liable if any inappropriate content slips through their moderation.
Managing Access offline (video games)
It can be acknowledged that there exist a number of mechanisms that are currently being used to regulate and manage the access of offline technologies and in particular movies and video games. These include the following;
• Parental control (Eastin, Greenberg, & Hofschire, 2006; Valcke, Bonte, De Wever & Rots, 2010)
• Appropriate regulatory systems that facilitate the effective advertising of movies and video games
• Statutory classification systems
• Non-statutory information labelling systems
It is important to make sure that the above named mechanisms are appropriate and adequately in proportion with the risk videos and offline video games have on children. None of the above named interventions will completely eliminate the risk; however, if done appropriately together they can significantly reduce the risk.
Technology can be defined to as the collection of methods, skills, and processes to be used in the provision of services, creation of products, and solving scientific enquiries. Technology has influenced the lives of both adults and children, however, it can clearly be stated that a clear boundary between technologies that are meant for adults and those that are meant for children has not been clearly drawn. This long-report offers recommendations that when effectively utilized will help regulate children and how they interact with technology.
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Anderson, C. A., & Dill, K. E. (2000). Video games and aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behavior in the laboratory and in life. Journal of personality and social psychology, 78(4), 772.
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