Parents often worry about how technology is affecting their children. Kids are using new technologies at higher rates than any generation before. The increased reliance on technology has been a concern of parents, worrying that technology may have negative impacts on their adjustment or social skills.
So, is technology ruining your children? The short answer is no, probably not. As long as children are still engaging in physical activity and are not spending all day watching TV and on their phones, technology does not put them at greater risk for things like depression or reduced social competence. In fact, this might be the wrong question to ask. Instead, parents should focus on how technology is being used and whether the interactions taking place are positive or negative.
Overall, research does not suggest that technology use predicts worsened adjustment or negative outcomes for children. Children and adolescents who are engaging in healthy social interactions generally have better adjustment, whether those interactions take place in-person or through digital communication.
However, there are a number of things parents should consider. Excessive passive social media use (spending long periods of time just viewing friends’ posts without interacting with anybody) can lead kids to feel jealous and have lower self-esteem. Otherwise, technology provides new venues for problems we have seen in children for many generations. However technology did not create these problems but rather, it provides new channels for these behaviors to take place.
Bullying, risky sexual behavior, and peer pressure have always occurred amongst adolescents. It is best for parents to view these technologies as an extension for what children and adolescents were already doing.