Every parent wants what is the best for their child. As such it is highly likely that you will encourage your child to have a good awareness of digital technology. Children are exposed to it at school, home and everywhere in between. It is part of life and essential that your child can use the technology and even write it. You are likely to hear the older generation commenting on how the children of today are so different; many of the older generation grew up in a time when computers simply weren’t part of everyday life.

It is certain that the arrival of the internet has changed the way in which children spend their free time; even the games machines can now connect to each other and provide a whole different gaming experience. However, is it possible that the internet can affect your child’s behavior in an adverse way?

Physical

Excessive exposure to the internet can leave your child without enough time to undertake physical activities. This can encourage obesity in children. More concerning is the fact that habits developed in childhood are often carried through life. A child who does not exercise and eats badly is likely to continue this pattern as an adult. This combination will leave them at higher risk of developing diseases such as diabetes and coronary issues. There are also concerns that the flashing images often computer screens can trigger epilepsy in children.

Social Skills

Children generally develop social skills whilst they are at school and in the playground; mingling with their friends. This is an important time as it helps them to grow in confidence; both in what they are capable of and in self-confidence. However, if your child is deprived of this time then their sense of self worth will be shaped by the comments they receive online. These can be confidence boosting but can also be exceptionally nasty and demeaning. The damage to your child’s self worth can become an issue as they move into adulthood and has even been linked with mental health issues; particularly depression.

Boundaries

In the past, a computer game was just that, a game. Now, the games have become so realistic that it can be hard to separate the reality from the virtual world. Once you add in the ability to connect with other players and the fact that there are no limitations on what is published; you will quickly discover a child who is struggling to know the correct boundaries in the physical world. The internet makes everything possible and nothing quite real; it is possible your child could do something without realizing that the effects are permanent.

The greatest issue from this may be that your child becomes desensitized to violence. What is acceptable online does not always reflect the values people need to adopt in the real world. It is possible and even probable that your child will believe violence or even killing is acceptable if they are exposed to it from a young age. Whilst this has always been the case, the number of children exposed to excessive violence is increasing dramatically through the use of the internet.

Development

Research suggests that children who spend lengthy periods of time on the internet are likely to become better at multitasking. This is because they will often be doing this online! However, this ability comes at a price. The ability to focus on one task, especially for a lengthy period of time, diminishes as your child spends more time on the internet. In fact, it has been noted that more children than ever before are simply plagiarizing their homework rather than take the time to complete it properly.

Teamwork

Surprisingly use of the internet can actually promote team work in your child. Online games and even chat forums allow your child to communicate with others. Not only do they need to cooperate to complete set goals they are free to express their ideas and share information; creating a better or viable solution to any issue.

Knowledge

Research shows that children who are exposed to regular but not extensive internet time have better knowledge levels than those who have not. The sheer amount of information available on the web means that your child can learn something new every day.

The internet is not likely to be disappearing soon and has an important part to play in daily life. To ensure it is a helpful tool and not a distraction to your child, it is the best to ensure it is used in moderation. As with anything in life, balance is the key.