The world of technology is changing rapidly and the best thing a parent can do is to be informed about technology and how it impacts their kids.

If you’re a millennial parent, even a young millennial, your kids are growing up in a completely different world than we did. We didn’t have smartphones, tablets, or Alexa when we were young. 

Technology has become an important aspect of how kids interact with the world around them. They have knowledge at their fingertips and can communicate with people all over the world. But smartphones aren't all good, and parents should be aware of the ways that they can effect your kid's brain.

Your Smartphone is a Distraction

Have you ever scrolled through Instagram or played a phone game while watching TV? If you haven’t, I bet your kid has. Media multitasking and hyper-connectivity make it harder for people to focus on one thing, whether it’s a conversation with friends or a math equation.

Your smartphone is a distraction, even when you’re not using it. This is because the presence of a phone makes the owner wonder, “what’s going on in the digital world.” Just having your phone next to you makes you less focused on your tasks at hand.

The best way to avoid smartphone distraction is to take your phone out of the equation. To help your kids from being distracted by smartphones, consider asking them to leave their phone in another room when they’re doing things like homework.

What is the Google Effect?

Finding information has become easier than ever. We can search for any information we need at any time. Which is great when your kid asks questions like “how hot is the sun?” because we can actually tell them!

Google serves as our own personal memory filing cabinet. Because information is so easy to find, we are more likely to remember the source than the actual information. This is referred to as the Google Effect.

Gaming Apps Propel Compulsion Loops

Gaming apps can be a lot fun, but when your kids want to play mobile games all the time, they become less fun for parents. Have you ever wondered why won’t your kids put down the games?

Apps like Candy Crush are designed to keep people playing. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps to control the reward and pleasure centers of the brain. When players achieve small goals, like winning a level, your brain gives you a burst of dopamine. Players also receive dopamine when they get new content, like new levels or power-ups. Together, these form a compulsion loop.

People are naturally novelty seeking, which is why apps frequently provide new content and why they are often difficult to disconnect from.

Blue Light Affects Sleep

Blue light from screens can affect your sleep cycle and quality of sleep. This is because blue light delays the release of melatonin, a hormone that is linked to the sleep cycle and circadian rhythm. Melatonin is released in response to darkness and using devices that emit blue light at night time can make it harder to fall asleep.

To reduce the impact of blue light on your sleep, it’s recommended that you don’t use devices an hour or two before bed. But most smartphones let you adjust the blue light by increasing the color warmth of the screen. For example, iPhones have a “Night Shift” mode that automatically changes the color of your screen at a set time every night.

Overall, the world of technology is changing rapidly and the best thing a parent can do is to be informed about technology and how it impacts their kids. If anyone can mitigate the impact of smartphones on your kids, it’s you!

About Kate Carr

Kate Carr is a recent grad from the University of Vermont with a degree in Psychology. She's interested in social marketing and is the Editorial Content Associate for Zift.