16yrold asks:

How do technological innovations like computer and TV affect a teenager? What should be done to prevent these bad impacts?

I am making a school project, the topic is "tech-savvy adolescents". i need to consult a child psychologist for this, please tell me the bad impacts gadgets like television, ipods, computers, video games have on lives of adolesecnts and what should be done to stop them. also, i need to write the name of the psychologist i am consulting in the project, can i write your name? thanks a lot, looking forward to your quick reply. a 16-yr-old girl.
In Topics: Teen issues, Technology and my child
> 60 days ago



Jun 3, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

There is little doubt that technology has become a large part of the lives of kids and teens. Most parents are struggling to set limits and define rules for many forms of technology that did not even exist when they, themselves, were children. For instance, most parents today did not grow up with cell phones or the Internet in the home, so they have little experience with how parents typically manage these new temptations. One of the biggest risks for kids and teens is that their parents may do little to educate and inform their children about the risks, benefits, and rules for the use of various forms of technology. The lack of guidance, coupled with the very real threats can become a troublesome combination. However, if parents are thoughtful and intentional in their parenting, technology can serve as a positive adjunct to the experience of growing up in today's world.  
My overall recommendation is that parents get informed early (a number of sites including Education.com and the Center on Media and Health - URLS below) have great information on this topic. Parents should plan when and how they will introduce their child to various forms of technology (e.g., If you give your child a cell phone, at what age?). And, most importantly, parents should talk to their children early and often about technology. I will discuss some of the different forms of technology below:  
The Internet:  
I feel like the Internet gets a very bad rap. Like pit bulls who can be great pets with the right owner, the Internet can be a wonderful tool for kids and teens if they are "prepped" ahead of time. The key phrase is "can be." With educated and informed kids surfing the web (at the computer in a common space in the home), a child can have a positive and safe experience online. However, as we all know, there are a number of significant threats online.  
First, there are many kids and teens who use the Internet to post pictures and messages that can be mean and hurtful toward their peers. This form of cyberbullying is difficult for schools to manage (often doesn't occur on school grounds) and can be done anonymously, at a distance, which increases the venom of some of the harassment (the bully doesn't see the victims reactions, easier to see them as a profile rather than a person with thoughts and feelings).  
Second, kids and teens are prone to post images and comments on their own or a friend's social networking page that without editing, can paint the individual in a bad light. Content posted to social networking sites, even when deleted, can live on in perpetuity and create problems later when a teen wants to apply to college for for a job. See here for an example: http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_MySpace_College/  
Third, there are adults out there who use the Internet to take advantage of unknowing kids and teens. We have all heard terrible stories in the news of children abducted and hurt by strangers they met online; we know the danger, but many kids and teens continue to communicate with people they do not know online, providing personal information about themselves, and sometimes, they even agree to meet in person, putting themselves at great risk.  
Cell Phones:  
Many kids ask for, and receive, the latest and greatest cell phone without any parental monitoring whatsoever. Parents should be very aware of the functionality of phones that they provide for their children (consider that a web enabled phone could access porn sites, for instance). Also, depending upon the age of the child, parents may consider purchasing a child-friendly phone such as the flyPhone (make calls, built-in camera, play games only).  
Generally, it is recommended that parents give their children cell phones as a safety measure as soon as they start to participate in activities on their own, usually around middle school. Explain that the cell phone is for safety, not long calls with their friends. Parents may consider requiring that their child "earn" their phone time, paying for their cell phone plan with chores or allowance. At the minimum, kids and teens should be kept to a minimum with call time and texts. This is a perfect opportunity to teach them about moderation.  
Video Games:  

Here is a great area of the site with recent, up-to-date information on the topic: http://www.education.com/topic/children-video-games/  
For more information on specific kinds of technology, take a look at the links below.  
Yes, you may use my name for your project as long as you indicate that you received this information in an online forum on Education.com. Good luck on your project!  
Laura Compian, Ph.D.
Counseling Psychologist
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