Letter to the Editor: Using Technology as a “Virtual Caregiver” Could Inhibit Childhood Development


Photo courtesy of Steve Chippy on Flickr.

Gabby Escobar, Guest writer

I wonder how future generations of children will grow up, considering the impact of technology on our ability to socialize and engage. The technology society uses in 2020 is very different from the past. I, and many experts, are concerned it could be harmful to development if children become too addicted to electronic devices and social media.

I have seen children in my own family glued to screens and mentally absent from the reality, and they seem to struggle with interpersonal connections.

Technology is often used as a helpful tool to keep kids occupied, so parents can take care of the house or work, but it may inhibit a child’s learning. A report by HealthDay News said that “preschoolers now often spend hours each day watching TV or playing video games — with little or no oversight or interaction from a parent.”

It seems that technology may be replacing vital caretakers, and children are more engaged with the screens than with other organic and natural interactions, such as the outdoors and family.

An article by The Baltimore Sun cited a study by JAMA Pediatrics which “studied brain scans of young children and found that kids aged three to five years old had underdeveloped white matter in their brains if they watched screens for more than an hour a day.” Because of this, limiting screen time is recommended.

I understand that parents would like easier options for a “babysitter,” but technology and media can also be addictive. In fact, many games are created to be “addictive,” according to CNBC. “For some game makers, ‘addictive’ is the highest compliment to their products, since an ‘addictive’ game will keep gamers engaged.”

This is the beginning of a new era of technology. What will become of future generations if technology continues to replace caretakers? I believe parents should not us it to babysit their kids, and instead focus on quality family time while fostering the development of common sense and survival skills.

Gabby Escobar is a student at Diablo Valley College participating in Journalism 110.