Subject to Change: Tech and toddlers


Srishreya (Shreya) Arunsaravanakumar

Technological growth has impacted the next generation of toddlers to an unprecedented extent.

Srishreya (Shreya) Arunsaravanakumar, Opinions Editor

Dear Reader, 

As a current teenager, I have seen firsthand how technology has affected modern life. It’s not uncommon to go to a restaurant and see toddlers watching Cocomelon on a tablet instead of interacting with their surroundings. This generation of children is what we call Generation Alpha – children born from 2012 onwards. They are growing up in an age where technology is a staple in everyone’s lives.

This might seem ironic coming from a member of Generation Z, a group known to live the majority of our lives on the internet. What is the difference between Generation Alpha and Generation Z, you ask? Our parents didn’t buy us iPhones as toddlers. Now, don’t get me wrong – technology has its benefits. I, of all people, know technology’s benefits largely because I’m also growing up with excessive exposure to technology. Information is at the tips of my fingers. In fact, it’s impossible to do homework without a device; I can access my grades and find tutorials on topics I don’t understand. With it, we can access educational tools that are engaging and fun, connect with loved ones across the world and learn how to code or program at an early age. But with great power comes great responsibility. It’s essential to acknowledge the pitfalls that come with these technological advancements.

One of the most significant effects that technology has on Generation Alpha is the phenomenon of ‘digital babysitting.’ Parents give their kids devices to keep them occupied while they work, run errands or go about their day. While this is convenient for the parent, it takes away from the time that children could be spending exploring the world around them. This deprivation of real-world interactions, especially at a critical time when a child is supposed to expand their fundamental skills like speaking, moving and learning social etiquette, is detrimental to their development into healthy individuals. 

Ultimately, the key is moderation – balancing the use of tech with real-world interactions, exercise and outdoor play as much as possible.

So how can we move forward with this generation to ensure they use technology for good? It starts by consciously making good choices. Parents need to monitor their children’s screen time and recognize signs of digital addiction. Instead of handing over a tablet, encourage kids to read, play and create. When they do use technology, make sure it is used for education or creative exercises. Ultimately, the key is moderation – balancing the use of tech with real-world interactions, exercise and outdoor play as much as possible.

It’s up to parents to ensure these impacts are positive rather than negative. To do that, we must be mindful of how we integrate tech into our lives and our children’s lives moving forward. While it’s easy to get caught up in the novelty of new apps and gadgets, we must remember that children’s development is best served with a balance between technology and real-life experiences. A child’s role model is their parents. How can young children be expected to avoid technology when both parents are so consumed with their own devices? 

To my fellow teenagers, if you have younger siblings, you can model good behaviors, such as putting our phones down during meals. You can teach younger children alternatives to reduce their use of devices: playing outdoor games, teaching them new sports or even creating a simple normal conversation. So they can attain their necessary social skills during their childhood development. 

Additionally, we need to advocate for changes in the tech industry. After all, it’s not entirely our fault for checking our phones, it’s the constant push notifications, repetitive advertising, and clickbait marketing that keeps us hooked to our phones daily. According to Gitnux, “Americans check their phones 96 times a day – that is once every 10 minutes, according to new research by Asurion. 18-24-year-olds check their phones twice as much as the national average.” Companies need to be held accountable for the addictive nature of their products and should be encouraged to design technology with the user’s well-being in mind.

It is all about moderation and how we create a healthier relationship with technology for ourselves and those to come. What are you going to do next?


Shreya Arun