Is Technology Bad For Kids?

Is Technology Bad For Kids?

Remember the old days when "TV time" in the living room was a kid's primary access to tech? (oh hey, millennial parents! đź‘‹). Well these days of course, things are different.

Children are introduced to technology at incredibly early ages. Who hasn't seen preschool-age kids playing games on their parents' phones in a waiting room, or given their kids a tablet to watch movies on for a little peace and quiet while riding in the car.

It's not only common these days. Sometimes tech is required. School-aged children are often issued personal devices such as laptops or Chromebooks as early as kindergarten. And it's almost impossible to find a group of high school students who aren't attached to their cell phones.

So how does all this tech exposure affect children? The opinions are split—many people feel that introducing technology to children early gives them an advantage in our digital world. Others express concern about the negative effects of early screen time exposure on child development. So, why is technology bad for kids? Why is it good for them? Let's take a look at both sides of the debate.

How Technology Shapes Children's Lives

Whether you're for it or against it, technology use in our children's lives isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Whether it's playing video games at home or spending time online at school for a research project, young people are exposed to technology every day.

Allowing children to become familiar with technology can certainly help prepare them for what they can expect in the real world. As adults, we're required to engage with technology on a daily basis, too. We take video conference calls with our co-workers, listen to podcasts while we exercise, text with our loved ones, and share photos and life updates on social media.

Technology is integrated into our children's lives every day, too. Let's break down some of the most common reasons.

Communication Tools

Communication is one of the primary reasons kids engage with today. In a world where connection is constant and instant, many parents feel that it's essential to be able to communicate with their kids throughout the day.

For many families, that means giving kids a smartphone. According to recent research, teenagers spend upwards of 5 hours on their phones daily, chatting with their friends on apps like WhatsApp and Messenger, playing games, and scrolling social media.

For younger kids, or parents who are concerned about their child's screen time, many are choosing to delay smartphone usage as much as possible. Some parents have even signed contracts together to "Wait Until 8th" grade. That doesn't necessarily mean they forego all communication though. Many parents rely on devices like a kid-safe smartwatch with calling and texting features as a way to stay in touch without the negative effects of excessive screen time or dangerous content.

Technology in the Classroom

Digital tools have become an everyday occurrence in modern education, enhancing learning experiences and expanding the learning experience in the classroom. Here are some examples of digital tools that are widely used in schools today:

  • Interactive Whiteboards: Interactive whiteboards, such as SMART Boards, allow teachers to deliver interactive lessons that can include touching and drawing directly on the screen. Younger students may even use these whiteboards to help develop fundamental skills like writing.
  • Educational Apps and Platforms: Apps like Kahoot!, Quizlet, and Google Classroom enable interactive learning and provide students with instant feedback on their work. Teachers can track progress, engage students in learning games, and facilitate group projects more efficiently.
  • Tablets and iPads: Many schools today use tablets as educational tools, providing access to ebooks, educational apps, and internet access in a 1:1 format.
  • Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR): VR headsets and AR apps can create engaging learning experiences that are particularly effective for subjects that benefit from visual learning, such as biology, history, and astronomy.
  • Educational Videos and Streaming Platforms: Platforms like YouTube, Khan Academy, and TED-Ed provide instructional videos that teachers can use to supplement lectures and give students visual and insights into the topic they're studying.
  • Coding and Robotics Tools: Tools like Scratch, Arduino, and LEGO Mindstorms allow students to try out coding and robotics, teaching them fundamental STEM skills.

Social Media

Kids use social media to connect with friends, share their experiences, and express themselves with photos, videos, and text. Social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok allow kids to showcase their interests, achievements, and talents, whether it's in sports, music, art, or simply their day-to-day activities.

Social media can also be a valuable tool for learning and information exchange. Many teens follow educational accounts, news outlets, and influencers who provide insights into current events, science, culture, and more, which can broaden their understanding of the world around them.

That said, parents won't need much of a nudge to also fee concerned about the impact of social media on their kids. From cyberbullying to concerning content exposure, social media offers a world of connection and exploration with a potential deep dark side.

Entertainment Gaming and Hobbies

Video streaming and gaming have exploded in recent years. These days, it feels like there are endless streaming platforms and content options to choose from. Some of these have kid-oriented settings and parental controls, but parents differ on how safe these truly are.

When it comes to video games, kids are playing more than ever and with people all across the world, creating a level of global interaction and cultural exchange we never would have thought possible. Players can collaborate, compete, and communicate with others regardless of where they are in the world. But many parents feel concerned about video game addiction and how safe online interactions truly are.

How is Technology Good For Kids?

Educational Resources

With the digital resources available in schools today, children can access detailed information, interactive tutorials, and educational videos on nearly any subject you can think of. Digital technology helps encourage self-directed learning where kids can follow their curiosity and learn at their own pace. Online platforms like Khan Academy, Coursera, or educational apps designed specifically for children, provide structured, high-quality content in engaging and interactive formats.

Many schools also provide subscriptions to learning software that can be used at home, like SplashLearn, where teachers can assign at-home projects that supplement the work being done at school. This allows students to have extra practice time at home in a fun and engaging way.

Personalized Learning

One of the biggest advantages of technology in education is the ability to personalize the learning process for each student. Adaptive learning technology can assess a student's current understanding and learning style and then tailor the educational content accordingly.

This means lessons can be adjusted to challenge the student appropriately and focus more on areas where they need improvement, making learning more effective. Software like DreamBox Learning or platforms like Google Classroom provide personalized educational experiences, accommodating individual learning speeds and preferences.

Creativity and Expression

Digital tools can enhance creativity and offer new ways for children to exchange ideas and express themselves. Whether it's through digital art, music composition, writing, or creating videos, technology provides the tools that make it easier and often more accessible for kids to create.

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that provides independent ratings and reviews of technology for kids, shared a list of the best creative apps for kids, including favorites like Crayola Create & Play, Drawing Pad, and, which all provide young people with creative entertainment beyond scrolling social media or playing video games.

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills

Many ed-tech programs are designed to help develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills in kids. Educational video games, for example, often require players to solve puzzles or develop strategies to advance to the next level.

Robotics kits for kids, like LEGO Mindstorms, teach problem-solving through building and programming robots to complete tasks. These activities are fun for kids but also require logical thinking and creativity, which are essential skills in both academic and everyday contexts.

Preparing Digital Citizens

As technology use becomes intertwined with all aspects of life, children need to learn how to navigate it responsibly. Educational technology can help teach responsible technology use, including understanding digital etiquette, recognizing credible sources, and protecting personal information. Schools often incorporate digital citizenship into their curriculum to ensure students are prepared for the digital aspects of their future careers and personal lives.

Family Connection

Technology allows children to connect with family members who may not live nearby, allowing them to form bonds with relatives they might otherwise see only rarely. Tools like video calls, instant messaging, and social media platforms allow for regular communication and shared experiences, regardless of the distance. This is especially great for building relationships with grandparents, cousins, and others who live far away.

Why is Technology Bad For Kids?

Impact on Cognitive Development

Excessive screen time, especially in children ages 0-4, can interfere with cognitive development. Studies suggest that excessive screen time exposure at an early age can affect brain structures related to focus, decision-making, and impulse control. Young children, in particular, can experience delayed development in areas such as language skills, memory, and attention spans.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limited screen time for children by age group, emphasizing interactive, unstructured playtime as crucial for healthy cognitive growth.

  • The AAP recommends parents limit screen time for children under 24 months of age to video chatting or watching educational programming with a caregiver.
  • Children ages 2-5 should not spend more than 1 hour per weekday on technology use.
  • For children ages 6 and over, screen time should be balanced with healthy habits and physical activity.

Impact on Mental Health

There are also growing concerns about the impact of excessive technology use on children’s mental health. Overuse of social media, for example, has been linked to increased rates of anxiety, depression, and feelings of isolation among high school students. Constant exposure to the carefully crafted lives that other kids share on social media can lead to negative effects on self-esteem and body image, especially among teenagers who are in the critical stage of developing their identities.

New research also suggests that technology may be hindering kids' social skills and having negative effects on their social emotional development. The constant use of digital devices can reduce face-to-face interactions, which help children learn empathy, emotional regulation, and interpreting non-verbal cues.

Privacy and Safety Concerns

One of the most concerning negative effects of technology is the lack of privacy and safety concerns that come with unspervised screen time. Children are particularly vulnerable to privacy and safety risks online. Kids today might share personal information without understanding the potential consequences, including identity theft, tracking, or exposure to inappropriate content.

Online predators often exploit children’s naivety. Ensuring children understand the importance of maintaining privacy online and parents using parental controls and monitoring tools can help mitigate these risks.

Distraction and Shortened Attention Span

Technology can be highly distracting due to its interactive and instant nature. Notifications from apps and games can make it difficult for children to focus on homework, reading, or even play. The constant switching between tasks and rapid pacing of digital content may reduce a child's ability to focus on a single task or think deeply about complex problems.

If you find that your child struggles to sit through a storybook or stay focused during homework, consider limiting their screen time and spending time on other activities such as playing games cooking a meal together.


Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place over digital devices and can occur through text, apps, or online via social media, forums, or gaming where people can view, participate in, or share content.

Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else, causing embarrassment or humiliation, and even significant negative effects on a child's mental health. Some cyberbullying crosses the line into unlawful or criminal behavior. The anonymous nature of many online interactions can encourage individuals to act aggressively or cruelly without immediate repercussions.

Reduced Creativity and Physical Activities

Too much technology or screen time can stop children from engaging in creative play and physical activity, which are critical for children's health. Creative play stimulates imagination and critical thinking and helps children develop problem-solving skills. Physical activities are essential for physical health and development. When children spend too much time in front of screens, they miss out on these important activities, which can affect their physical health, creativity, and overall development.

Too much screen usage can lead to more mindless eating, less social interaction, reduced sleep quality, and a sedentary lifestyle.

Tips for Educators and Parents: Find Moderation and Balance With Screen Time

In navigating the digital landscape with our kids, the goal isn't to eliminate technology completely but to use its potential wisely. After all, technology itself isn't inherently good or bad; it's how we choose to use it that makes the difference. Finding that moderation and balance is key, and it's something that both educators and parents can work towards together.

Set Clear Boundaries

Establish rules around when and how technology can be used both at home and at school. This might include specific times when devices can be used, time limits, and clear expectations about what activities on these devices are acceptable.

For example, parents may set boundaries such as no devices during family meals, no screens one hour before bedtime, and limits on the type of content that can be consumed. Teachers may implement rules such as requiring students to complete certain in-class activities before allowing technology use, or limiting children's screen time to educational apps only.

(Pro tip: a great boundary we love is location - limiting phone usage to certain areas. For example, no phones at the dinner table or bedrooms.)

Use Age-Appropriate Devices

Choosing devices that are suitable for a child’s age group helps ensure they are using technology that matches their developmental needs. Younger children might benefit from tablets with educational apps or smartwatches with parental controls and tracking capabilities. Old kids may benefit from parental control software, Wi-Fi router controls, or phones that offer more modular app capabilities for step-by-step independence.

What's clear today is that starting slowly is critical. However a parent may weigh the benefits and risks of tech, using the right tools for the right age matters.

Set Parental Controls

Parental controls help manage what content children can access on their devices. This includes blocking inappropriate websites, setting time limits on usage, and monitoring the types of apps that can be downloaded. Most operating systems and platforms offer parental controls that can help in enforcing these guidelines.

Use Technology Together

Engaging in technology activities together not only allows for bonding time but also lets parents and teachers model responsible technology use. Playing educational games, watching documentaries, or even coding together can be both fun and educational, providing opportunities to discuss content and share critical thinking about what you're both experiencing.

Monitor Your Child's Content

Keep an eye on the content your child consumes while using their devices. This includes knowing which websites they visit, what apps they use, and what games they play. Monitoring your child's screen time not only keeps them safe but also helps you understand their interests and guide them toward content that is enriching and developmentally appropriate.

Create Technology-Free Zones

Parents should designate specific areas and times where no electronic devices are allowed, which can help both children and adults disconnect and engage in other activities. Common technology-free zones include bedrooms, dining rooms, and during family gatherings. These boundaries encourage more face-to-face interaction and physical activity.

Lead By Example

Children learn habits from the adults around them. By modeling balanced use of technology—such as not using devices during meals, prioritizing real-world interactions, and demonstrating disciplined use of media—parents and educators can set a powerful example for children to follow.

Encourage Open Communication

Talk openly with your children about technology use so you can create an environment where children feel safe to share their online experiences. Discuss the potential risks and benefits of online activities, talk about privacy, and be open about cyberbullying. When children know they can talk openly with their parents or teachers, they are more likely to reach out when they encounter problems.

Embrace the Benefits of Technology Without the Downsides

By setting clear guidelines, encouraging diverse interests beyond screens, and creating an environment of open communication, parents and educators can help children benefit from technology use while mitigating its potential downsides. Ultimately, the goal is to integrate technology in a way that enriches children's lives, enhancing their learning, creativity, and connectivity without compromising their social and emotional development. 

By carefully managing and monitoring technology use, we can ensure that it serves as a valuable tool for growth and learning, rather than a barrier to genuine personal connections and well-being.

Looking for the best way to keep your kids safely connected?

If starting smart with technology is on your mind, COSMO can help! Our JrTrack Kids Smart Watch is an award winning solution trusted by thousands of parents nationwide to give kids a step-by-step start with tech.

JrTrack is a real phone built for kids ages 6-12 and includes all the connection and safety essentials children need in their first device, without any other stuff like social media or open internet browsing.

  • Unlimited nationwide talk, text, and data with COSMO Mobile
  • Parental controls and contact approvals
  • GPS tracking and SafeZone alerts
  • SafeCore system with emergency calling & SOS alerts
  • Activity tracker and step goal features

Learn more here and give JrTrack a try risk free here!