Children in Web: Protection and Prevention

Introduction

Technology is the improvement made on computers, education, medicine, transportation and other technologies as well as the useful knowledge that enables humans to achieve their purpose more effectively; it is actually the growing capability of humans to achieve their purposes, the great technological transformation must be understood to a void getting lost in the sheer complexity of the phenomenon (Cornish, 2004). Technology has become part of the landscape of living, it should not therefore come as a surprise that it is included in education, grade school systems and institutions of higher learning where they are either planning to or are heavily investing in technology in their classrooms and the use in classrooms shares top billing with the standards and assessment movement as ways to improve education; the Federal officials have been looking for ways to encourage greater and more effective use of technology in the nation’s schools (DePaul, & Stoner, 2003 ).

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Childhood is a critical phase of life and therefore must be protected to be fully experienced, it should not be hurried, and each child deserves deep respect as an individual that needs help in developing but today they are under tremendous stress and suffer increasingly from illnesses such as allergies and asthma, hyperactive disorders, depression, and autism; the availability of computers and the internet in daily living situations , and the interest in the extent to which these technologies are being used in schools and classrooms has grown tremendously (Blanchard, McLain, & Bartshe, 2004).

Literature review

Trends

The public agrees that for children to participate socially, economically and politically in this new and different world they must acquire a certain level of comfort and competence in using computers ( U.S. National Center For Education Statistics (NCES)., 2003). National polls indicate widespread support for providing children with access to computers to enable them to learn adequate computer skills and improve their education, surveys indicate most parents and children view computers and the internet as a positive source in their lives, parents believe internet helps children with their homework and allow them to discover fascinating useful things and without access they are disadvantaged compared to those with access; therefore equality of digital opportunity is fast becoming synonymous with equality of educational opportunity (U.S. Census Bureau, 2003).

A growing number of parents are providing their children with access to computers at home. Among households with children ages 2 to 17 home computer ownership jumped from 48% in 1996 to 70% in 2000, while connections to the internet captured from 15% to 52% over the same 5 year period (U.S. National Center For Education Statistics (NCES)., 2003). This rapid diffusion of technology is quite phenomenal for instance; the spread of internet is nine times faster than that of the radio, four times faster than the personal computer and three times faster than television. Besides, in the US, Congress has made it a national priority to provide all the nation’s children with access to computers at school. Declaring that the use of technology can help States meet high standards of learning and such use is essential to develop and maintain a technologically literate citizenry and an internationally competitive work force, evidence suggests the use of computers improves learning among children and their performances under ‘certain’ circumstances (Jones, Staats, Bowling, Bickel, Cunningham, & Cadle, 2005).

Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorders (ADHD); American Psychiatric Association, (1994) are at higher than average risk for a variety of behavioral difficult but can improve their reading problems, exhibit high academic performance by using computerized aided instruction program, Head sprout, CAI- Computer Assisted Instructions, there is an increase in oral reading fluency and decreases in off-task behavior and independent work (Kim, Vaughn, Klingner, Woodruff, Reutebuch, & Kouzekanani, 2006).

Issues

Computers are the most sophisticated thinking tools ever designed and as such young children may not differentiate between their own human thinking and the powerful operation of the machines and imposing such a task on them may not be fair for they were developed with adult bodies, as well as adult mental capacities, in mind and even for them their intensive use is related to job stress and serious injuries (Hew & Brush, 2007). Emphasizing computers for children, whose growing bodies are generally more vulnerable to stress, presents several challenges to healthy development.

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The rush to computerize elementary kindergarten emphasizes only one of education at odds with much of what many human capacities can handle in particular children. Naturally human biology and psychology develops quite late in human development and children’s intellectual, emotional strengths are not capable of handling the task and therefore aims to jump start it prematurely (Coleman, et al. 2005). Human development is marked by long periods of gradual progress and occasional spurts are essential in promoting the use of computers in children’s growth, such an emphasis see variations to the common patterns of growth designed for training children to think in way of interacting to form the child’s unique human that appear more mechanistic than childlike (Coleman-Martin, Heller, Cihak, & Irvine, 2005).

Computers are reshaping children’s lives at home and at school, in profound and unexpected ways, however, common sense suggests that we consider the potential harm, as well as the promised benefits of this change (Clarfield, & Stoner, 2005).Young children must learn to use computers to nurture and integrate a wide range of skills and knowledge that guarantee their future success in school and capacities into the synergistic whole that makes work, but educational technology has however produced almost no adapting and maturing system throughout their lives and there is no evidence of a clear link between using computers in the early grades and improved grades performance ( Dynarski, Agodini, Heaviside, Novak, Carey, Campuzano, et al. 2007). Limited data availability combined with the rich body literature on child development learning and children’s use of other media; suggests certain general observations made for research (Sorrell, Bell, & McCallum, 2007). Any computerized instruction should consider cost and benefits for instance one potential obstacle of CAI is the expense of the hardware required to operate the program, however, the Head sprout program itself is relatively inexpensive and easy to use (DePaul, & Stoner, 2003).

The parents and policy makers may however be more limited in accomplishing than to ensure that children not only require the necessary skills to use computers effectively as a tool in their daily lives but also benefit to enrich their learning both inside and outside classrooms (Macaruso, Hook, & McCabe, 2006). We can as well ensure that children have opportunities to use computer technology more actively to create, to design, to invest, and to collaborate with children in other classrooms and communities to help reducing disparities between rich and poor by working to narrow the gap in computer access between children who live in low-income neighborhoods compared with those in high-income neighborhoods.

Risks

The use of computers in childhood can place children at increased risk for repetitive stress injuries, visual strain, obesity, and other unhealthy consequences of a sedentary lifestyle. Increasing the time that children spend on computers, given the hours they a already sit in front of televisions and video games, may contribute to developmental delays in children’s ability to coordinate sensory impressions and movement and to make sense of the results, and could in turn lead to language delays and other learning problems. Potential but unproved health risks of toxic emissions may also exist from new computer equipment and exposure to electromagnetic radiation, especially from the old video display monitors that are still in use in many schools ( Pacuilla & Ruedel, 2004).

Long hours at a keyboard and constantly repeating hand movements, may overtax children ’s hands, wrists, arms, and neck, in turn, may stress their developing muscles, bones, tendons, and nerves (Rouse, Kruger, & Markman, 2004). Health and safety experts in government and industry have been recommending that adults who work at video display terminals take precautions to prevent such injuries: adjustable office furniture; changes in posture and careful attention to the angles of one’s legs, arms, and neck while working; warm-up stretches; and frequent breaks from using a keyboard and mouse or staring at a screen (The American Occupational Therapy Association, 2004).

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Conclusions and recommendations

These health risks to children demand immediate action since neither high-tech companies, nor the federal government, nor school officials has yet publicly acknowledged the hazards let alone taken action to remedy them (Journal of Special Education Technology, 2007). Our task, then, lies in educating our children in ways that develop the traits of character and habits of mind of shouldering the moral responsibilities of a high-tech future demand and we fail in that task if we deny the imperatives of childhood since their minds are especially tuned to learning through experiencing the world with their bodies, their hands, and their hearts (Korat, & Shamir, 2007).

Computer technologies have proven useful in many adult realms of activity, but they are advanced intellectual tools that do not engage bodies, hands, or hearts in the experiential ways so essential for children’s development. Instead, they can overwhelm young children with abstract information about grown up realities and therefore elementary school age children and younger are in general neither intellectually nor emotionally mature enough to benefit from using these tools (Macaruso, & McCabe, 2006).

Recommendations

More public and private research dollars should be allocated to assessing the effects of extended computer use and exposure to various types of computer content on children’s physical, intellectual, social, and psychological development (Judge, Puckett, & Bell, 2006) Research takes time; however, we cannot wait until studies are complete to begin taking action to protect our nation’s children from potential risks. To help parents and other adults protect children from inappropriate commercial, sexual and violent content, further action will be required if we hope to not only protect children, but to empower them to use computer technology effectively and appropriately as tools, throughout their lives (Hew & Brush, 2007).

Clearly, our foremost concern must be to protect children from harm and even in the absence of definitive research, steps must be taken to protect children from potential risks through controls and closer monitoring considering that while protecting our children from harm, however, we must also strive to inspire; children should be encouraged to use computers in ways that instill a thirst for knowledge and a zeal for positive social engagement (Littleton, Wood, & Chera, 2006).

References

Blanchard, J., McLain, J., & Bartshe, P. (2004). The web and reading instruction. Computers in the Schools, 21(3/4), 5 – 14.

Clarfield, J., & Stoner, G. (2005). The effects of computerized reading instruction on the academic performance of students identified with ADHD. School Psychology Review.

Cornish, E. (2004). Futuring: The exploration of the future. Bethesda, MD.

Coleman-Martin, M. B., Heller, K. W., Cihak, D. F., & Irvine, K. L. (2005). Using computer-assisted instruction and the nonverbal reading approach to teach word identification. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 20(2), 80- 90.

DePaul, G. J. & Stoner, G. (2003). ADHD in the schools Assessment and intervention strategies.

Dynarski, M., Agodini, R., Heaviside, S., Novak, T., Carey, N., Campuzano, L., et al. (2007). Effectiveness of reading and mathematics software products: Finding from the first student cohort (NCEE 2007-4005).Government Printing

Office Washington, DC: U.S. Web.

Galvan, J. L. (2006). Writing literature reviews: A guide for students of the social and behavioral sciences (3rd Ed.). Glendale, CA: Pyrczak Publishing

Korat, O., & Shamir, A. (2007). Electronic books versus adult readers: Effects on children’s emergent literacy as a function of social class. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 23, 248-259.

Kim, A., Vaughn, S., Klingner, J. K., Woodruff, A. L., Reutebuch, C. K., & Kouzekanani, K. (2006). Improving the reading comprehension of middle school students with disabilities through computer-assisted collaborative strategic eading. Remedial and Special Education, 27(4), 235 – 249.

Littleton, K., Wood, C., & Chera, P. (2006). Interactions with talking books: Phonological awareness effects boys’ use of talking books. Computer Assisted Learning Journal, 22, 382 – 390

Macaruso, P., Hook, P. E., & McCabe, R. (2006). The efficacy of computer-based supplementary phonics programs for advancing reading skills in at-risk elementary students. Research in Reading Journal, 29(2), 162 – 172.

McCallum, R. S. (2007). Reading rate and comprehension as a function of computerized versus traditional presentation mode: A preliminary study. Special Education Technology Journal, 22(1), 1 – 12.

Pacuilla, H. and Ruedel, K. (2004). American Institutes for Research, the National Center for Technology Innovation. Washington, DC, and Mistrett State University of New York at Buffalo.

Pacuilla, H. and, Ruedel, K (2004). Review of Technology-Based Approaches for Reading Instruction: Tools for Researchers and Vendors.

Rouse, C. E., Kruger, A. B., & Markman, L. (2004). Putting Computerized instruction to the test: A randomized evaluation of a “Scientifically-based” reading program” , National Bureau of Economic Research, Web.

U.S. Census Bureau (2003). Computer and Internet Use in the United States: U.S. Government Printing Office 2003 (P23 – 208), Washington, DC.2007,

U.S. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). (2003). Internet access in public schools and classrooms: 1994-2002, Government Printing Office. Washington, DC: U.S.

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