Computers and Children

Abstract This project is to elaborate the relationship between children and computers in our society. It will include the development of computers, what computers impact children now, pros and cons to children and their future.

Introduction Personal computers have been used since 1978, “…no one then could possibly have imagined that Bill Gates, an 18-year old college dropout who never slept and who always needed a haircut, would one day become the richest man on Earth” (Forrest). Ever since computers got involved into our society, our daily life started to change. The changes not only affect adults’ lives, but also affect our children dramatically. Most schools are equipped with computers and children can access computers at schools. “About two-thirds of our nation’s children have access at home” (Papert). The paper will include the basic introduction of computer, impacts on children and how to protect children from bad information.

Computers: Computers have been involved in most aspects of daily living, such as school, bank, shops, and work. “They provide access to wide range information without going to library. And they complete with newspapers, radio, and television in providing entertainment and news of the day” (Papert). In today’s world, computers have profound effect on our economy that changes the services, the skills of workers, and the productive abilities of a manufacture. Computer technology has been broadly used in education in this country, “Nearly every school is equipped with computers” (Papert). Computers have closely contacted children, “We’ll build you a teaching machine for less which will guarantee your kids will pass tests!” (Kay). Even though the relationship between computers and children is close now, the key point is what children want. “Children may just want to plant beans and watch them come up” (Kay).

Good Computers are good for children’s development. They provide useful information to children if they are used properly. Researches show that home computer use is slightly better academic performance. Children can get better and more information when they surfing through web to find the answers of their assignment; therefore, they will know better about the topics. As a result, these children gain more than those children who do not use computer usually, “Nevertheless, Subrahmanyam and colleagues cite one well-controlled study of a computer-based after-school program demonstrating that children who participated in the program achieved small but significant gains in reading, mathematics, computer knowledge, and grammar, were better able to follow directions, and scored higher on school achievement tests, compared with non-participants” (Anderson and Butcher, p.8). The facts show that properly use computer to learn and voluntary participation in a mix of fun and learning activities is the road for children to gain more acknowledge. Since most work requires workers know how to use computer systems, a person has to know about computers. Compared to adults, children are much easier to catch up new stuff. Some adults do not know much about operating computers; therefore, they are not able to get some jobs. The properly use of computers is good for children’s development in the future.

Bad Health is one of the biggest issues when children use computers.

Excessive, unmonitored use of computers, especially when combined with use of other screen technologies, such as television, can place children at risk for harmful effects on their physical, social, and psychological development. Children need physical activity, social interaction, and the love and guidance of caring adults to be healthy, happy, and productive. Too much time in front of a screen can deprive children of time for organized sports and other social activities that are beneficial to child development.15 In addition, children may be exposed to violent, sexual, or commercial content beyond their years, with long-term negative effects.16 To ensure healthy and appropriate use of computers both at school and at home, children’s computer time must be limited and their exposure to different types of content must be supervised (Papert).

Obesity is the common problem when children spend too much time in front of computers’ monitors. Obesity is defined in terms of body mass index (BMI), which in turn is defined as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared (kg/m2). Children access to computers about five hours a day makes distract them from the normal daily life. “Children who spend an excessive amount of time in front of computers and other screens are likely to be displacing activities required for healthy development and increasing their risk of obesity” (Papert). Most people eat when they access to computer. Therefore, the more children using computer, the more they eat. In the past thirty years, the numbers of obese children in the US are increasing, “During 1971–74 about 5 percent of children aged two to nineteen years were obese. By 1976–80 the share obese was slightly higher, but between 1980 and 1988–94 the share obese nearly doubled. By 1999–2002 nearly 15 percent of U.S. children were considered obese” (Anderson and Butcher, p.3).

Pornography Children can get pornographic materials through internet easily. If children try to buy pornographic magazines or movies in stores, cashier would see the children and refuse most of the time. “On the web, a child can access pornography without an adult observer” (Baase 199). The worst thing is the material is already in the World Wide Web and everyone can access to. People discuss sexual activity, of conventional and unconventional sorts in graphic detail in cyberspace. These materials are not appropriate for children. The excessive access may cause children addict to pornographies and lead to sexual problems when they contact with others.

Social Health Besides of obesity and pornographic issues, social health is another problem caused by over access to computers. “By the age of about seven years, a child’s interactions with family, peers, school, community networks, and media all play an important role in the development of interpersonal skills and social competence” (Anderson and Butcher, p.6). Instead of having human friends, children tend to make “electronic friendships” through computers. This is a hindered in developing interpersonal skills to children. “Such concerns are heightened by reports that among children ages 8 to 16, some 20% have computers—and 11% have Internet access—in their bedrooms,28 which suggests that a sizable number of children may use computers in social isolation” (Anderson and Butcher, p.6), and “For example, one in-depth analysis of the effects of Internet use among a group of 93 families found that, during their first year with access, teens who spent more time online experienced greater declines in social involvement and increases in their feelings of loneliness and depression” (Anderson and Butcher, p.6). Therefore, teachers and parents should be the guardians to children and help them to develop the interpersonal skills with others both at schools and homes.

Protecting Children from Obesity People try to solve and reduce the injuries caused by excessive use of computers, such as Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed new ergonomics requirements to reduce injuries among workers caused by excessive computer use. “Some researchers have issued warnings about the risk of repetitive strain injuries from use of computers at work-stations not well designed fro children” (Anderson and Butcher, p.6)

Protecting Children from Pornography People try to protect children from the pornographic materials on internet. The first attempts to protect children from sexually explicit material on the Net came in the form of federal censorship lows¡¨ (Baas 200). Some major laws were rejected by the Supreme Court; however, some of them are undetermined. American Online helps parents to set up certain systems to lock children out of those websites. When subscribers notify the company of illegal activity, AOL reports it to the FBI and complies with subpoenas. It expelled subscribers who e-mailed child pornography to others¡¨ (Basse 200). Software filtering products allow parents to choose categories to filter and add their own list of banned sites. Conclusion In today’s world, knowing how to use computers is a basic element to succeed. Therefore, people have to learn how to use it life long. However, how to build and guide children’s psychological, and inter-personal communication skills are parents and teachers’ responsibilities. Even though there are lots of software filtering products and methods to block the inappropriate sites, children will still have chances to access to the websites. Therefore, parents have the responsibility to supervise their children and to teach them how to deal with inappropriate material and threats. In addition, parents have to teach them how to manage their time.

Reference: Forrest, M., “How the Personal Computer Was Born.” June 20, 2006

Packard, D., and Packard, F., “The Future of Children, June 22, 2006

Kay, Alan C., “A Personal Computer for Children of all Ages.” June 21, 2006

Anderson, Patricia M., and Butcher, Kristin F., “Childhood Obesity: Trends and Potential Causes.” June 21, 2006

Baase, S., “A Gift of Fire: Social, Legal and Ethical Issues for Computers and the Internet”

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