by Dr. Rich Murphy
Our world has changed incredibly in the last 30 years. More than anything, this change has been an electronically driven one. Between the personal computer (in all its various forms) and the Internet, one can vicariously live their life, without ever leaving their chair.
I remember the first personal computers and video games. Back then, a few far-seeing people were saying that they would change society. Little did we know how true that was. I’m quite sure that even those who were declaring how great an invention the PC was, couldn’t see where it would take us.
Children used to play with toys; they used to communicate face to face; they used to run and jump and get dirty outside. Now they develop thumb muscles and quick fingers playing video games and texting to each other. What affect is this going to have on their future? Are our children going to become giant heads, with withered away bodies, as some science fiction writers have supposed?
According to a recent study by the Kaiser Foundation, our children (from 8 to 18) spend an average of 7.5 hours a day with their electronic devices; that’s 52.5 hours a week, or 2,730 hours a year. By the time they reach 18 years of age, they would have spent 1,137.5 hours connected to some electronic gadget or another; that’s the equivalent of just over three years of their lives!
Specifically, the breakdown of those 7.5 hours a day is:
Our children are so accustomed to living with all this electronics at their fingertips that they cannot even imagine living a life where those things don’t exist. To them, taking away their cell phone or MP3 player is cruel and unusual punishment; we may as well banish them to Antarctica.
What will be the long-term effects of all this time spent with electronic devises? Will it be beneficial to society, or harmful? Truthfully, only time will tell. While we can see a few short-term affects, none of us the key to H. G. Wells’ time machine; we can’t see the future.
One thing is certain; all this use of electronics is affecting our children’s health. Obesity amongst children has skyrocketed. Their overall physical condition has degraded. This will result in greater health problems, at a younger age; and may even bring about a shortening of the average life expectancy.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against electronics, nor the use of electronics; I’m a geek at heart. However, like everything else in life, I see a need for balance. All these electronic gadgets are great tools which improve our quality of life. They give us the ability to do things that we could only dream about 20 or 30 years ago. Through the Internet we quite literally have the world at our fingertips.
Wise parents seek ways to bring balance into their children’s lives; so that they can grow up as well-rounded, productive members of society. When the electronics that our children use take over their lives, that balance is lost. Like many other things, it is up to us, as parents, to bring the balance back.
Copyright © 2010 by Richard A. Murphy, Maranatha Life. All rights reserved.