Guest Blog: Are We Losing Our Children To Pixels?

By Dr Chand Zahid Khan

I have been teaching young children for many years, and worryingly enough, I have noticed a sharp decline in children’s interest in reading books as well as their ability to write legible.  And to be bluntly honest, it’s without a doubt due to a rise in use of technological gadgets.

pixels2Children as young as 2 years old easily manage to operate an iPad which clearly shows their developmental ability. Parents find it easier to allow their children on an app for reading than to sit down with them and read a book.  This is leading to an adverse effect in children’s ability to exercise the basic skills of literacy and numeracy.

Then there is a rise is use of IPad, laptops and tablets in schools as well.  This has caused children to write very little and also loose the physical touch with a book.  That feeling which comes from turning a page to read the next part of the story, has been completely lost. It’s all about clicking and moving on, that bypasses the brain’s process of curiosity and inquiring.  Children are losing the art of patience and waiting game.  Slowly, they will evolve into small people who have stopped asking questions and learnt to carry on without thinking.  Reading an actual book and writing with a pen on a paper, is not just about reading and writing but it’s about developing a thought process for the children that allows them to question and answer with knowledge and skill.

pixels 3Children that read with their parents or spend less time on gadgets, turn out to be the happier children, who learn from life experiences. Who learn to be inquisitive and are not afraid to have a go at working out a mental puzzle.  Who will happily listen to a joke and laugh out loud. Compare this to the children that spend most of their time on gadgets, who show a slight aggression in their behaviour when faced with a difficult situation. They will also show a delay in understanding a joke, and will struggle to laugh fully. These are purely my observations during my times of teaching in last 5 years.  I firmly believe that we are losing our next generation to the pixels. If we are not careful, we will be dealing with adults that have a high risk of developing mental illness.  These adults will lack basic skills of life such as managing their everyday tasks without getting stressed about it.

It’s high time; we put our children on a priority list and mend our ways quickly. The use of technology is good but it has to be with limits. We must actively get our children involved in book clubs and literary competitions.  Try to read with them at least once week and get them involved in normal activities like taking them out on food shopping or taking them to the local library and If the library is not available then form reading groups amongst your and friends children.

Our children should not be lost to the pixels and only if we take these early warning signs as serious as we can before it’s too late to turn back the clocks.  We should not be complacent in being involved with our local clubs and activities that involve less use of technological gadgets. We should actively seek writing or poetry competitions that may interest our children. We must stand united to save our children from being lost to the pixels.

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Do you love reading? Do you have a passion for writing? Would you like to see your work published on the official Manchester Children’s Book Festival blogIf you can’t make it to Manchester for our MCBF events, don’t worry – you can write book reviews of your favourite children’s books or even send us an opinion piece (for example, what do you think about libraries, or your favourite authors?). Send your blog to mcbf@mmu.ac.uk. The best pieces will be published on the MCBF blog throughout the year.

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