How electronic media adversely affects children, as opposed to printable media.
Any parent or teacher will agree that reading books and newspapers is the foremost way of improving a child’s vocabulary, sentence structure, and language skills. But in this digital age where information lies supposedly at the tip of our fingertips, with even kindergartens exposed to the vast cyberspace that is the internet, is every child reading books now? The answer is no, and the effects of this are very much evident.
To begin with, electronic media have taken over the lives of children. The concept of introducing children to books at a young age so that they may become insightful and grow into a well-rounded person has become a rarity. Instead, we find preschoolers glued to the television screen, high school students wasting hours on social networking websites like Facebook, and college students buried inside their mobiles and laptops. The new generation’s interest in newspapers and books - in the classics of Literature – is waning. Nobody reads books at all anymore, and this is a frightening omen. The evidence is present in the way these children speak and write – the majority of the statuses on Facebook are written in improper English; grammar and vocabulary forsaken for “web-speak”.
Another effect of constant exposure to the internet is the way it’s affecting children’s intelligence and attention spans. When kids spend their entire days on websites like Facebook and Twitter, which features updates after every few seconds, their brains’ capacity to withhold and process information over long-term becomes negligible. Anything that seems lengthy to them, or requires their attention for more than a few seconds, will be discarded. This is the same reason why even e-books aren’t popular among children: they simply do not like reading anything that long, and the long term effects of this will be devastating. Reading used to be an activity all by itself; a past time that involved curling up in your blanket on a cold day, with a book and a hot mug of tea to pass the time. Now, the most children come near reading a book would be if they have a summary open besides their Facebook, Hotmail, and Twitter accounts. Are we really comfortable with raising a generation without focus or purpose in their lives? Is that how we want to be remembered in history?
Finally, it should be remembered that the internet is a vast space, with a million websites. Not all of those websites are suitable for everyone – the majority of them are unsuitable for children. With e-books and the internet, it’s impossible to monitor, who the child talks to, or what he sees and reads. Not to mention, there is a large amount of information online that is incorrect. Parents have no way of controlling what their child is doing online, and this overexposure will really have a large impact in the type of person the child will grow up to become.
Which is not to say that electronic media is pure evil. It has its advantages too; numerous ones. It saves paper for one, and for another, the amount of information available on any topic imaginable is truly awe-inspiring. There is no doubt that it will inevitably change a lot about how we and our children live our lives. Change is always inevitable, and it would be foolish to reject it. However, one must also take care that while embracing the new trends and ways of the world, we remember to teach our children the old traditions and not be alienated from our culture and values. The best way to do this would be to introduce books into their lives again – books about literature, about the adventures of heroes, about magic and wonder, so that our children have the same wonder-filled childhood that we experienced too.
(by Mrs. Qudsia Aslam)