Thursday, February 24, 2011

Technology Addiction: Affect on Students

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Currently, childhood obesity is a growing epidemic across North American cities.  The issue with this epidemic is that it is preventable and reversible (Smith, 1999).  As of 2004, 26% of Canadian children aged 2 to 17 were overweight or obese (Cullen, 2006). One of the main caused of this problem the rise in new technology.  This technology includes smart phones, social networking websites, video and computer games, television and movies (Anderson & Butcher, 2006).  Research has proven that Canadian children spend 7.5 hours a day in front of a “screen” (O’Hanlon, 2007).    As a physical educator, it becomes part of our responsibility to re instill a passion for physical activity in students.   In a study conducted on 6 to 18 year olds, the highest number of obese children was in the 15 to 18 year old category.  The effects of excessive television viewing and time spent on the internet are directly related to the health of these teenagers.  It is affecting their sleeping habits causing them to be getting on average less than 7 hours of sleep per night (Abdulbari et al, 2011).   
Some experts believe that technology can be a positive influence in a young child’s development.  For example educational DVDs, television shows and video games and help children learn in different ways; however it is clear that this use of technology should not be used in excess and should actually be very limited (Van Evra, 2004).  The same thing can be believed of the use of technology in the classroom.  When educators make use of technology for teaching purposes in high schools, this can enhance the learning experience.  The problems arise when there is an overuse of these technological advances showing young adults that this type of behavior is acceptable (Parks, 2003).
I feel that children and young adults in this day in age are becoming increasingly more obsessed with technology and showing more signs of addiction to it as well.  As a future physical education teacher at the senior level, this concerns me because an addiction to technology can have many influences that could affect performance in my class.  An addiction to technology will inevitably lead to increased screen time such as television, video games and computers.  The main problem which will arise is most clearly physical inactivity.  I feel as though children who are spending excess amounts of time playing video games or sitting on social networking sites are more likely to be overweight because they are not getting their recommended amount of physical activity per day or per week.  This is a definite concern for me as a physical education teacher for obvious reasons. Being overweight as a child will most likely lead to obesity as an adult which can cause serious health problems in the future.  In becoming a physical education teacher, I have taken on a strong feeling towards helping children and young adults to be fit and active.  It is my hope that I can help students to see the importance of physical activity and being healthy for life.  An addiction to video games and other kinds of technology is only impairing the goal of all physical education teachers. 
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I believe that another influence that an addiction to technology can have on a student is impaired social skills.  I feel that this is caused by the impersonal atmosphere that social networking sites and cell phones create allowing students to be in contact with each other without having actually see each other.  People are free to say things and do things online or through text message that they might otherwise not feel comfortable saying or doing in person.  With the help of these other means of communication, I feel as though young adults will not get the chance to learn how to express themselves without hiding behind an avatar.  This affects me as a future educator and coach because it will more than likely affect a team dynamic.  Social skills such as communication and interpersonal skills are important to the structure and function of a team.  I believe that these skills are being severely compromised because of the addiction to technology.
Another reason why I feel that overuse of technology in students lives will affect performance in the classroom is that the internet and video are wonderful distractions.  In a world where most students in high school are procrastinators, distractions make it even easier for these students to put off writing essays and studying for tests.  I have personal experience with this watching my high school age brother day in and day out sitting on his favourite social networking site when he should be studying for his final exams.  Being entertained by the internet has even stopped him from going to look for a job.  I believe that the obsessive nature that these students show towards the internet and video games has the potentially to affect their studying habits as well as their grades. 
Technological advances are helping teachers in so many different ways, but in other ways these advances are hindering the student’s health and ability to learn.  Students are excessively overusing the internet, television, and video games which are a proven cause of physical inactivity, impaired social skills and procrastination.  As a future physical education teacher these impacts of technology addictions are going to prove to be a frustrating obstacle to overcome throughout my career.

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               Bener, Abdulbari,Al-Mahdi, Huda S.,Ali, Awab I.,Al-Nufal, Mohammed, Vachhani, Pankit J., Tewfik, Ihab (2011). Obesity and low vision as a result of excessive Internet use and television viewing  Source: International Journal of Food Sciences & Nutrition Feb2011, Vol. 62 Issue 1, p60 3p.