Expert warns technology use risks loss of childhood

HEALTHY APPROACH: Families are advised to have some technology-free times.
HEALTHY APPROACH: Families are advised to have some technology-free times. Contributed

THE increasing use of technology in Australian homes is putting young children at risk of harmful "modelling behaviours" that can prevent them from achieving key developmental milestones and have a negative impact upon family life, experts say.

According to recent research, the daily internet use of 18 to 54-year-olds has increased from 57% to 71% in four years.

"More and more adults are plugged into a screen," said educational psychologist Jocelyn Brewer.

"While technology offers many wonderful opportunities, the danger is that childhood is at risk of being lost as 'techno creep' advances into family life."

Ms Brewer says parents, grandparents and older siblings are key influencers on younger children, setting pathways in place for role-modelling important behaviours.

"When there are three generations seated for dinner on smartphones, consideration needs to be given as to how this may affect a young child," she said, "just like passive smoking, passive technology influences young children."

Ms Brewer points out the risk is that children will follow the behaviour themselves, through increasing their own use of screen time, and feel disconnected from family life.

Ms Brewer points to current recommendations, which advise that five to 18-year-olds accumulate no more than two hours of screen time per day and children under the age of two do not spend any time viewing TV or other electronic media.

Ms Brewer is an ambassador for the Pilot Pen Creative Writing Scholarship, a national program that encourages children to step away from the keyboard and write a story by hand.

The scholarship is open to children in Years 5 and 6. Entries are to be received by August 22. For more information, visit

Topics:  childhood expert

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