3.1 Prenatal development: Conception, stages and influences on prenatal development



The sperm and ovum that unite to form new individual are uniquely suited for the task of reproduction. The ovum is a tiny sphere, measuring 1/175 inch in diameter that is barely visible to the naked eyes as a dot size of the period at the end of this sentence. But in its microscopic world, it is a giant- the largest cell in the human body. The ovum’s size makes it a perfect target for the much smaller sperm, which measure only 1/500 inch.




The male produce sperm in vast number-an average pf 300 million a day.in the final process of maturation ,each sperm develops a tail that permits it to swim long distances, upstream in the female reproductive tract, through  the cervix(opening of the uterus), and into the fallopian tube , where fertilisation usually takes place. The journey is difficult, and many sperm die. Only 300 to 500 reach the ovum ,if one happens to be present. Sperm live for up to 6 days and can lie in wait for the ovum, which survives for only 1 day after being realised into the fallopian tube. However most conceptions result from intercourse during a 3-day period –on the day of ovulation or during the 2 days preceding it.




1.     Period Of  The Zygote


The period of the zygote lasts about two weeks, from fertilisation until the

Tiny mass of cell drifts down and out of the fallopian tube and attaches

Its self to the wall of uterus. The zygote’s first cell duplication is long and

Drawn out; it is not complete until about 30 hours after conception. Gradually.  New cell added at a faster rate. By the fourth day, 60 to 70 cells exist that form a hallow ,fluid-filled ball called a blastocyst. The cell on the inside of the blastocyst, called the embryonic disk, will become the new organism; the thin outer ring of cells, termed the trophoblast, will become the structures that provide protective covering and nourishment.

Implantation: Between the seventh and ninth days, implantation occurs. Blastocyst invades into uterine wall and becomes implanted in it (implantation)

The Placenta and Umbilical Cord: The placenta permits food and oxygen to reach the developing organism and waste product to be carried away. Membrane forms that allows these substance to be exchanged but  prevents the mother’s and the embryo’s blood form mixing directly. The placenta is connected to the developing organism by the umbilical cord, which first appears as a primitive body stalk and, during the course of pregnancy, grows to a length of 1 to 3 feet.

By the end of the period of the zygote, the developing organisms has found food and shelter in the uterus.


2.     Period of the Embryo

The period of the embryo lasts from implantation through the eighth week of pregnancy. During these brief six weeks, the most rapid prenatal changes take place, as the groundwork is laid for all body structures and internal organs. Because all parts of the body are forming.


Image result for ectoderm mesoderm endoderm

Last Half of the First Month: In the first week of this period, the embryonic disk forms three layers of cells: (1) the ectoderm, which will become the nervous system and skin; (2) the mesoderm, from which will develop the muscles, skeleton, circulatory system, and other internal organs; and (3) the endoderm, which will become the digestive system, lungs, urinary tract, and glands. These three layers give rise to all parts of the body.

The Second Month: In the second month, growth continues rapidly. The eyes, ears, nose, jaw, and neck form. Tiny buds become arms, legs, fingers and toes. Internal organs are more distinct: The intestines grow, the heart develops separate chambers, and the liver.

At 7 weeks, production of neurons(nerve cells that store and transmit information) begins deep inside the neural tube at the astounding pace of more than 250,000 per minute (Nelson, 2011)

At the end of this period, the embryo – about 1 inch long and 1/7 ounce in weight- can already sense its world. It responds to touch, particularly in the mouth area and the soles of the feet.


3.     Period of the Fetus

The period of the fetus, from the ninth week to the end of pregnancy, is the longest prenatal period. During the growth and finishing phase the organism increases rapidly in size especially from the ninth to twentieth week.

The Third Month: In the third month the organs muscles and nervous system start to become organized and connected when the brain signals the fetus kicks bends its arm forms fist curls its toes, turn its head , open its mouth, and even suck its thumb , stretched and yawn.

The tiny lungs begin to expand and contract in an early rehearsalof breathing movement by the twelfth week, the external genitals are well-formed ,and the sex of the fetus can be detected with ultrasound. Other finishing touch appear as fingernail, toenail, tooth, buds and eyelids. The heart beat can now be heard through a stethoscope.

Prenatal development is sometime divided into trimesters or three equal time period. At the end of third month, the first trimester is complete.

The Second Trimester: By the middle of the second trimester , between 17 and 20 week, the new being has grown large that the ,mother can feel its movement. A white cheese like substance called vernix covers the skin protecting it from chapping during the long month spent in the amniotic fluid.

White downy hair called lanugo also covers the entire body helping the vernix stick to the skin. At the end of second trimester, many organs are well developed. Also, most of the brain’s billion of neurons are in place. Few will be produce after this time .consequently brain weight increases.

Brain growth means new behavioral capacities. The 20 week-old fetus can be stimulated as well as irritated by sound. Slow eye movement appear with rapid eye movement following at 22 week. Still, a fetus born at this time cannot survive. Its lungs are too immature, and the brain cannot yet control breathing movements or body temperature.

The Third Trimester: During the final trimester, a fetus born early has a chance of survive. The point, at which the baby can first survive, called the age of viability, occurs sometime between 22-26 week. A baby born between the seventh and eighth month, however usually needs oxygen assistance to breathe.

Although the brain’s respiratory centre is now mature tiny air sacs in the lunges are not yet ready to inflate and exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen.

Around 28 weeks fetus blink there eyes in reaction to nearby sounds. 

Related image

By the end of the pregnancy, the fetus takes on the beginnings of a personality. Higher fetal activity in the last week of pregnancy predicts a more active in fact in the first month of life.

Fetal activity level an indicator of healthy neurological development which fosters adaptability in childhood.






Length & Weight

Major events





The one-celled zygote multiplies and forms a blastocyst.





The blastocyst burrows into the uterine lining structure that feed and protect the developing organism begin to form-amnion, chorion, yolk, sac, placenta, and umbilical cord




¼ inch (6mm)

A primitive brain and spinal cord appear. Heart , muscles, ribs, backbone, and digestive tract begin to develop




1 inch (2.5cm);

½  ounce


Many external body structures (face, arms, legs, toes, finger) and internal organs form. Production of neurons begins. The sense of touch emerges, and the embryo can move.




3 inches (7.6cm);

Less than 1 ounce


Rapid increase in size begins. Nervous system, organs, and muscles become organized and connected and new behavioral capacities (kicking, thumb sucking, mouth opening, and rehearsal of breathing) appear. The fetus’s sex is evident.




12 inches (30cm);

1.8 pounds


The fetus continues to enlarge rapidly. In the middle of the period, the mother can feel fetal movements. Vernix and lanugo keep the fetus’s skin from chapping in the amniotic fluid. Most of the brain’s neurons are in place by 24 weeks. Eyes are sensitive to light, and the fetus reacts to sound.




20 inches (50cm);

7.5 pounds


The fetus has a good chance of survival if born during this time. Size increases, Lungs mature. Rapid brain development causes sensory and behavioral capacities to expand. Antibodies are transmitted from mother to fetus to protect against disease. Most fetuses rotate into an upside-down position in preparation for birth.



Since the prenatal environment is the mother's body, virtually everything that impinges on her well-being, from her diet to her moods, may alter her unborn child's environment and affect its growth. Not all environmental hazards are equally risky for all fetuses. Some factors that are teratogenic (birth defect-producing) in some cases have little or no effect in others. The timing of exposure to a teratogen, its intensity, and its interaction with other factors may be important.

1.     Canalization is seen in prenatal development.

2.     Drugs and other harmful environmental influences can also canalize development, usually in negative ways.

3.     Risk factors can interfere with canalized processes that lead to the development of specific organs.

Maternal diet and nutrition

1.     Nutrition and maternal weight

2.     Malnutrition

3.     Physical activity and strenuous work

4.     Drug intake

•Medical drugs



•Marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine

5.     HIV/AIDS

6.     Maternal illnesses

7.     Stress

8.     Age

9.     Outside environmental hazards

Paternal diet and nutrition

1.     Abnormal or poor quality sperm:



•Tobacco smoke

•Large amounts of alcohol




•High ozone levels

2.     Male occupations

3.     Oil: Prader Willi(same gene contributed by mother on same chromosome = Angel man syndrome)

4.     Smoking contributes to secondhand smoke, linked with low birth weight, infant respiratory infections, SIDS, cancer, reduction in head circumference

5.     Age: Advanced age of the father also may be a factor in about 5 % of cases of Down syndrome.


3.2          Birth and Neonatal development: Screening the newborn- APGAR Score, Reflexes and responses, neuro- perceptual development


Birth Process

Stage 1: effacement and dilation of cervix
- Effacement: shortening/thinning of cervix
Stage 2: emergence of the baby
- Usually begins with "crowning" of head in a typical birth
Stage 3: delivery of the placenta
- Can happen actively (taken out physically or chemically) or passively (naturally comes out)

The neonatal period

The neonatal period (birth to 1 month) is a time of extensive and ongoing system transition from uterine environment to external world; this includes the initial period after birth which is referred to as the perinatal period.

Neonates and sleep

·        Sleeping more in this time than they will throughout lifespan

·        Neonate spends the majority (approximately 2/3 of time) sleeping (16 hours) -> this declines throughout rest of life to about 20%

Neonates and crying

·        Neonates spend about 2 hours per day crying -> increases after birth until 6 weeks

·        Mostly non-communicative until they're older, but can also be due to hunger, discomfort, pain, or overstimulation

·        Peaks in late afternoon and evening

Physical development

Sensory and motor skills development:

Newborns have all five senses. Your newborn quickly learns to recognize your face, the sound of your voice, and how you smell. Your newborn's sense of touch is especially developed, particularly around the mouth. Your baby also has a strong sense of smell. After a few days, your newborn hears fairly well and responds most noticeably to high-pitched and loud sounds. Your baby recognizes and prefers sweet tastes to those that are sour, bitter, or salty. Vision is developing quickly but is believed to be the weakest of the senses. Motor skills develop as your baby's muscles and nerves work together. Movements are mostly controlled by reflexes, such as the rooting reflex, which is when a newborn's head turns and his or her mouth "reaches" toward a touch. Hands are tightly fisted when the baby is alert.

Screening of the newborn

Newborn screening is the process of testing newborn babies for treatable geneticendocrinologicmetabolic and hematologic diseases.


In 1952, Virginia Apgar, M.D. devised a new method to quickly and summarily assess the health of the newborn immediately after birth. She selected five objective signs pertaining to the condition of the infant at birth that could be evaluated and taught to the delivery room personnel without any difficulty. These signs were heart rate, respiratory effort, reflex irritability, muscle tone, and color. Sixty seconds after the complete birth of the baby, a rating of zero, one or two are given to each depending upon whether it was absent or present. The resulting APGAR score ranges from zero to ten.

The five criteria of the APGAR score are:

The APGAR test is generally performed at one and five minutes after birth. It may be repeated later if the score was low to begin with and remains low. Any score lower than 8 indicate the child needs assistance. Scores below 5 indicate that the infant needs immediate assistance in adjusting to his or her new environment. However, a child who has a low score at 1 minute and a normal score at 5 minutes should not have any long-term problems. A score of 8 or 9 is normal and indicates the newborn is in good condition.


Reflexes and responses

Neuro- perceptual development

Infant perception, process by which a human infant (age 0 to 12 months) gains awareness of and responds to external stimuli. At birth, infants possess functional sensory systems; vision is somewhat organized, and audition (hearing), olfaction (smell), and touch are fairly mature. However, infants lack perceptual knowledge, which must be gained through experience with the world around them. As infants’ senses mature, they begin to coordinate information obtained through multiple sensory modalities. The process of coordination, known as intermodal perception, begins early and improves across infancy.

·        Hearing: Perceptual development of your infant’s sense of hearing is developed early on as your baby is able to distinguish voices while they are in the womb. This is why they recognize their mother’s voice, who frequently talks to them before they are born. While an infant’s sense of hearing is amazing developed at an early age, it continues to improve as they progress and grow. Unlike an adult, who can hear quiet sounds, an infant is unable to distinguish low noises and may sleep right through them without any disruption. They are very alert to loud noises and can become startled easily.

·        Vision: Senses such as vision are not fully developed at birth as an infant has very little to see while in the womb. As your infant matures, they begin to see color more easily and are able to focus on objects that are near them. You will notice that your baby is particularly taken with faces and the features that make them up as their perceptual development continues to progress.

·        Taste: Taste is profoundly developed in an infant that will gravitate towards sweet things early on. They especially nurse well after you have had something sweet to eat. You will also see your infant develop a taste for salty. They can easily recognize the differences in these tastes and will also have an adverse reaction to things that are sour.

·        Smell: Smell is another sense that your infant develops early on as this is how they recognize their mother and can be calmed by her when she is near. Your infant can recognize perfumes and will respond well to pleasant smells. Foul smells, like an adult, can turn an infant off and may be the reason they are crying or uncomfortable.

·        Touch: Keeping your infant comfortable also requires the sense of touch. Babies enjoy being touched and nurtured. This is a way to soothe and calm them and is one of the reasons techniques such as baby massage work so well with infants. They love to feel that closeness, knowing that they are protected and safe.

As your infant grows, you will see their perceptual development increase as they become more aware of their surroundings. 








3.3          Milestones and Variations in Development


Infants and Toddlers





Newborn: rough, random, uncoordinated, reflexive movement


Sensori-motor: physically explores environment to learn about it; repeats movements to master them, which also stimulates brain cell development


4-5 mo: coos, curious and interested in environment


6 mo: babbles and imitates sounds


9 mo: discriminates between parents and others; trial and error problem solving


12 mo: beginning of symbolic thinking; points to pictures in books in response to verbal cue; object permanence; some may use single words; receptive language more advanced than expressive language


15 mo: learns through imitating complex behaviors; knows objects are used for specific purposes


2 yrs: 2 word phrases; uses more complex toys and understands sequence of putting toys, puzzles together


Attachment: baby settles when parent comforts; toddler seeks comfort from parent, safe-base exploration


5 mo: responsive to social stimuli; facial expressions of emotion


9 mo: socially interactive; plays games (i.e., patty- cake) with caretakers


11 mo: stranger anxiety; separation anxiety; solitary play


2 yr: imitation, parallel and symbolic, play

3 mo: head at 90 degree angle, uses arms to prop; visually track through midline

5 mo: purposeful grasp; roll over; head lag disappears; reaches for objects; transfer objects from hand to hand; plays with feet; exercises body by stretching, moving; touch genitals, rock on stomach for pleasure

7 mo: sits in “tripod”; push head and torso up off the floor; support weight on legs; “raking” with hands

9 mo: gets to and from sitting; crawls, pulls to standing; stooping and recovering; finger- thumb opposition; eye- hand coordination, but no hand preference

12 mo: walking

15 mo: more complex motor skills

2 yrs: learns to climb up stairs first, then down



























Possible effects of maltreatment


Birth-1 yr: learns fundamental trust in self, caretakers, environment


1-3 yr: mastery of body and rudimentary mastery of environment (can get other’s to take care of him)


12-18 mo: “terrible twos” may begin; willful, stubborn, tantrums


18-36 mo: feel pride when they are “good” and embarrassment when they are “bad”


18-36 mo: Can recognize distress in others – beginning of empathy


18-36 mo: are emotionally attached to toys or objects for security


Chronic malnutrition: growth retardation, brain damage, possibly mental retardation


Head injury and shaking: skull fracture, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, paralysis, coma, death, blindness, deafness


Internal organ injuries

Chronic illness from medical neglect Delays in gross and fine motor skills, poor

muscle tone


Language and speech delays; may not use language to communicate


Insecure or disorganized attachment: overly clingy, lack of discrimination of significant people, can’t use parent as source of comfort


Passive, withdrawn, apathetic, unresponsive to others


“Frozen watchfulness”, fearful, anxious, depressed


Feel they are “bad”


Immature play – cannot be involved in reciprocal, interactive play




























Physically active


Ego-centric, illogical, magical thinking



§  Cooperative, imaginative, may involve fantasy and imaginary friends, takes turns in games


§  Develops gross and fine motor skills; social skills; experiment with social roles; reduces fears


Wants to please adults


Development of conscience: incorporates parental prohibitions; feels guilty when disobedient; simplistic idea of “good and bad” behavior


Curious about his and other’s bodies, may masturbate


No sense of privacy


Primitive, stereotypic understanding of gender roles

Rule of Three: 3 yrs, 3 ft, 33 lbs.


Weight gain: 4-5 lbs per year


Explosion of vocabulary; learning syntax, grammar; understood by 75% of people by age 3

Growth: 3-4 inches per year

Poor understanding of time, value, sequence of events

Physically active, can’t sit still for long

Vivid imaginations; some difficulty separating fantasy from reality

Clumsy throwing balls

Accurate memory, but more suggestible than older children

Refines complex skills: hopping, jumping, climbing, running, ride “big wheels” and tricycles


Primitive drawing, can’t represent themselves in drawing till age 4


Don’t realize others have different perspective

Improving fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination: cut with scissors, draw shapes

Leave out important facts


May misinterpret visual cues of emotions


Receptive language better than expressive till age 4

3– 3 ½ yr: most toilet trained





Possible effects of maltreatment


Psycho-social task is identity formation


Young adolescents (12-14): self- conscious about physical appearance and early or late development; body image rarely objective, negatively affected by physical and sexual abuse; emotionally labile; may over-react to  parental questions or criticisms; engage in activities for intense emotional experience; risky behavior; blatant rejections of parental standards; rely on peer group for support


Middle adolescents (15-17): examination of others’ values, beliefs; forms identity by organizing perceptions of ones attitudes, behaviors, values into coherent “whole”; identity includes positive self image comprised of cognitive and affective components


Additional struggles with identity formation include minority or bi- racial status, being an adopted child, gay/lesbian identity


All of the problems listed in school age section


Identity confusion: inability to trust in self to be a healthy adult; expect to fail; may appear immobilized and without direction


Poor self esteem: pervasive feelings of guilt, self-criticism, overly rigid expectations for self, inadequacy


May overcompensate for negative self- esteem by being narcissistic, unrealistically self-complimentary; grandiose expectations for self


May engage in self-defeating, testing, and aggressive, antisocial, or impulsive behavior; may withdraw


Lack capacity to manage intense emotions; may be excessively labile, with frequent and violent mood swings


May be unable to form or maintain satisfactory relationships with peers


Emotional disturbances: depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, attachment problems, conduct disorders





3.4          Importance of play in childhood

Children play for different reasons. Sometimes they are exploring or learning new things. At other times they are consolidating existing learning or practising a skill. Play can also be a way of building or strengthening a relationship. Children often play simply for fun and enjoyment. They bring their own interpretations of situations, events, experiences, and expectations to their play.

Types of Play-

1.     Creative- Creative play involves children exploring and using their bodies and materials to make and do things and to share their feelings, ideas and thoughts. They enjoy being creative by dancing, painting, playing with junk and recycled materials, working with play-dough and clay, and using their imaginations.

2.     Games with rules- Another type of play involves games with rules. Even babies and toddlers can partake in these, as peek-a-boo and turn-taking games have rules. In the beginning children often play by their own rather flexible rules! In time they also partake in more conventional games with ‘external’ rules. Language is an important part of games with rules as children explain, question and negotiate the rules. Rules are often an important part of pretend play where children negotiate rules about what can and can’t be done.

3.     Language-Language play involves children playing with sounds and words. It includes unrehearsed and spontaneous manipulation of these, often with rhythmic and repetitive elements. Children like playing with language – enjoying patterns, sounds and nonsense words. They also love jokes and funny stories.

4.     Physical-Physical play involves children developing, practising and refining bodily movements and control. It includes whole body and limb movements, co-ordination and balance. These activities involve physical movements for their own sake and enjoyment. Children gain control over their gross motor skills first before refining their fine motor skills. Exploratory play involves children using physical skills and their senses to find out what things feel like and what can be done with them. Children explore their own bodies and then they explore the things in their environment.

5.     Manipulative play- This involves practising and refining motor skills. This type of play enhances physical dexterity and hand-eye co-ordination. Over time children need to experience a range of different levels of manipulation if they are to refine their motor skills. This type of play includes manipulating objects and materials.

6.     Constructive play- It involves building something using natural and manufactured materials. As children develop, this type of play can become more complex and intricate.

7.     Pretend- Pretend, dramatic, make-believe, role, and fantasy play involves children using their imaginations. It includes pretending with objects, actions and situations. As children grow, their imaginations and their play become increasingly complex. Children use their developing language to move from thinking in the concrete to thinking in the abstract. They make up stories and scenarios. Children act out real events and they also take part in fantasy play about things that are not real, such as fairies or super heroes. Children try out roles, occupations and experiences in their pretend play.

8.     Early literary and numeracy- are clearly evident in this type of play, for example children make lists and menus and pay for cinema tickets. They also get the chance to play with different forms of ICT such as mobile phones, keyboards, cameras, and calculators.

9.     Small world play- involves children using small-scale representations of real things like animals, people, cars, and train sets as play props.

10.                       Socio-dramatic play- involves children playing with other children and/or adults. It provides opportunities for children to make friends, to negotiate with others, and to develop their communication skills. This play helps extend language. The ability to write stories also has its roots in socio-dramatic play.

Importance of Play-

As babies, toddlers and young children learn and develop their play with others becomes increasingly intricate and complex.

Play is the most important way that young children learn. Through play, children learn about the social, physical, emotional, and cognitive worlds around them. As they play with adults, they learn new vocabulary, understand culturally determined rules and roles such as how to treat one another, and build important emotional connections. When they play with their peers, they learn that others have prospective, rights, and feelings that may conflict with their own. Playing with others is how children learn reciprocity and mutual respect, essential traits humans need to coexist in a peaceful world

Play is the way that children learn resilience and perseverance. When obstacles come their way, young children find playful ways to overcome small barriers with persistence, gumption, and skill. When they fall, they get back up. If their creations don’t work out the first time, they try and try again. These lessons stick with them for life.

Play is the way that children stretch themselves. They challenge themselves to jump higher, build taller, and concentrate longer. They try out new words and make them their own. Children don’t need rewards for playing. Play is satisfying in its own right. Play is the way children learn what it is like to be an adult as they try on adult roles. They feed the baby and put him to bed, or build the next rocket ship to the moon. Anything is possible in play.

Play is the way that children learn to deal with tension and stress. They pretend to be monsters and superheroes in the battle of good versus evil—and of course good always wins. Play is often viewed as what we do after we work. A reward. In most cases, first you work and then you play. Many people work so that they can afford to play (vacations, golf club memberships, electronic games). However, play is the work of young children. It comes naturally to all children, all over the world. Children are born to play. Play is a right.

It expands children’s creativity. It provides practice of adult roles. Play is motivating. Free play allows children time to investigate, think, socialize, question, and problem solve, without judgment from adults. Play involves risk. What will happen if I step here? What will she do if I tell her no? How do these things fit together? Why isn’t this working the way I want it to?

Play allows children to express themselves as artists, mathematicians, scientists, athletes, readers, writers, caretakers, leaders, and so much more. It builds confidence so that children will feel comfort- able as they encounter challenges throughout their lives. Play can be rule-oriented. Sometimes the play itself dictates the rules. Sometimes it is the children who make the rules. Other times the teacher facilitates the play, using games and playful activities in the learning process. Play is prior knowledge expressed actively.

Children demonstrate their learning through play. Their teachers must watch and listen carefully to unlock the play’s meaning. Through play, children tell the stories of their lives. Play creates happiness and balance in life. Without play, how can you discover who you are? Who you want to be? How things work? Play allows children to develop into motivated explorers ready to take on the world.

3.5 Contextualizing childhood in contemporary environment factors: globalization, media influences, technology.

We are now in the era of globalisation. India has started to experience this Phenomena when the Indian market was opened to the world through the implementation of 1991 Industrial Policy, After this incident, every corner of our country started to utter the important slogan- “GLOBALIZATION, LIBERALISATION, PRIVATISATION”. Through mass media it reached almost every single house of urban and suburban household and spread out the message of cultural globalisation. There is no doubt that globalization mainly effected the youth of our country as they were directly connected to the nodal centre of the globalization process through their economic, academic and cultural activities but the scenario has been changed in recent time. As urbanism has become a way of life, a child has also become an active inherent of this process through their food habits, dressing sense, recreational pattern, consumer behavior. Family, Institutions, Peer groups, mass media and also the present production system have played a vital role in this matter. 

Effects of Technology on Child Development

Reduces Attention Spans

Perhaps the concern raised most often when it comes to children and technology is the impact on attention span. When children are exposed to technology at high rates, their brain may adopt an internet approach to thinking – quickly scanning and processing multiple sources of information. Developing brains are particularly vulnerable to this, and where previous generations may have spent much more time reading, imagining or participating in activities that require focus attention, brains in children exposed to high volumes of technology may adapt to frequent visual stimulation, rapid change and little need for imagination.

Reduces Self-Soothing and Self-Regulation

Anyone who has raised a toddler would acknowledge the beauty of distraction in calming a toddler in a tantrum. But parents today have a tempting distraction always available: technology.

Increases Aggression

Researchers found a correlation between simulated violence, often found in popular video games, and heightened aggression. Exposure to violence was found to make children and teens more likely to argue with peers or teachers, and less empathetic and impacted by actual violence.

Stagnates Physical Activity

Time spent with technology means time spent sitting. Even with portable devices, the activity itself requires users to be mostly still. Given the vast amount of time children are reportedly spending with technology now, this also means that active indoor or outdoor playtime has now largely been replaced by this sedentary activity. In extreme cases, children or teenagers may even forgo other vital activities, likely eating or sleeping, when engaged with a video game or other media.

School Performance

Limited attention spans can also impact how children perform in the classroom. Technology habituates brains to constantly switching between tasks, which can lead to reduced attention spans. Other research suggests the presence of a computer, even if intended for educational purposes, may simply serve as a distraction.

Limits Interpersonal Interactions

Leaning on a mobile device to distract children can reduce their interpersonal interactions. Whether the need at hand is reconciling with a friend or sibling, entertaining themselves on a long trip, or settling down at night, if children are constantly armed with technology, they’re never to navigate an interaction with a friend, parent or sibling that may be critical to solving the problem long-term.

Affects Emotional Development

Even in the hands of only parents and caregivers, technology may have an impact on childhood development. Observation is the primary way children learn, as they listen to learn language, observe conversations, read facial expressions and watch how others navigate emotional situations. Rampant screen time seeps away intentionally, connected time with children that is critical to emotional development..

For young children, the impact may be felt as screen time replaces time previously devoted to play, peer interaction and exploration, which are thought to foster empathy, problem-solving skills, curiosity, intelligence, and listening skills.

Aids Learning

Internet users flex their decision-making and problem-solving brain functions more frequently, and are more likely to handle rapid cyber searches well. And, technology may present the next wave of vocational training for students who may not thrive in traditional academic subjects. Technology can also support education in more traditional ways, with engaging games to boost vocabularies or through electronic books.

As with nearly everything in life, technology is not a problem when used in moderation. We need to pursue a technology balance for our children, to capitalize on the benefits and alleviate the negative effects of technology in childhood development.