The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

New childhood pastimes affect generation’s expectations


In a world of constantly advancing technology, it is hard for some people to keep up with what the “in” thing is. Which phone is cool? Which car is hot? What gadgets should you have to be considered “hip”?

Getting a new gadget and then having to answer a million of my elders’ questions used to really annoy me. Now, I’m beginning to realize I am one of the people who is clueless about new technology.

I remember when the preferred medium for learning was books. Now, there are things like Leapsters that, although they teach children to read, look and feel more like video games. 

Part of me wonders what the world is coming to, while other another part of me thinks, “Dang, I wish I had one of those when I was younger.”

There are definitely pros and cons to this method of education. On the plus side, children are more prone to enjoy learning if it doesn’t feel like learning. However, it is clear children are becoming more socially inept due to technology.

A recent study showed parents are becoming increasingly concerned with the time spent by their children on computers, cell phones and video games is lessening their face-to-face interaction with live humans. They would rather text a friend than talk in person. 

This is keeping children from learning good verbal communication skills and the importance of interpreting body language. The study showed the amount of time families spend together face-to-face has decreased by 25 percent.

I used to always hear adults tell me things had changed so much since their childhoods, but it never really hit me how much change they meant. Now, I’m starting to see it changing my own life.

As a child, when I wanted to talk to a friend, I had to either wait for school the next day or talk my mom into taking me to see the friend. 

Now, kids who don’t even reach my waist have cell phones and never put them down. To punish children, parents used to send them to their rooms, spank them, ground them or a mixture of all the above. 

Now, a trip to their rooms is fun because of the personal televisions and computers, spankings are considered abuse and grounding usually isn’t carried out for the full sentence.

Speaking of that, the study mentioned earlier found more than half of the 2,000 families polled use restriction of the Internet as a form of punishment. This probably works better than the old forms of punishment because younger generations are becoming increasingly dependent on their technology. It seems as though technology is their source of oxygen, and without it they will suffocate and die.

Karen Sternheimer, a sociologist who works with children on issues such as this, claims to worry more about the children who have never been on any of the popular social networking sites. She believes they are the ones who “will be behind in the marketplace.”

I can see both sides of the story. I do believe technology is important, as Sternheimer said, because it is so widely used it would be nearly impossible to be successful at any job without at least basic knowledge. However, I don’t think it should be used for everything.

Technology is not just a way to be more productive these days. It is also a babysitter and, in some more serious cases, a parent. In my days as a child, car rides were made less boring by everyone joining together in sing-alongs. Nowadays, a movie is popped into the portable DVD player and the kids are quiet for the whole ride. 

A lady in my church back home recently told my Sunday school class how she has decided to set aside two hours every day during which nobody can use any phones, computers or televisions. At first, her kids wanted to know what else there was to do with their time. 

It didn’t take long for them to discover the fun that can be had playing outside or helping their mom cook dinner. I definitely believe knowledge of different technologies is increasingly more important for an individual to possess. 

I also believe the importance of face-to-face interaction should be acknowledged and promoted starting at a young age. Just like everything in the world, there must be a happy medium that satisfies both sides of the picture.

Jay Ballard is a freshman majoring in chemistry. He can be contacted at
[email protected]

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Reflector

Your donation will support the student journalists of Mississippi State University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Reflector

Comments (0)

All The Reflector Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
New childhood pastimes affect generation’s expectations