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Instant Gratification: How Technology Affects Children’s Behavior

Nov 13, 2018

by editorial team


How does growing up with technology affect children’s behavior?

With 24/7 access to information, entertainment and social connection, both children and adults have become dependent on the instant gratification technology provides.


What Is Instant Gratification?

Instant gratification refers to a quick and immediate attainability of pleasure and satisfaction.

The ability to obtain anything we want, anytime we want it, is a defining characteristic of the times we live in.

From fast food to fast fashion, this is an era of instant gratification.


The Link Between Instant Gratification and Modern Technology

The desire to experience pleasure without delay is particularly common in members of Generation Y and Generation Z.

With just one click of a button, we can connect to anything we could possibly want: our friends, our family, an endless selection of movies on Netflix, and even a whole library of books.

Posting a photo on Instagram results in a flood of instant likes from your following. Sending a text to a friend usually elicits an immediate response.

Growing up with technology means that some of us have never known a different way of living, one without instant gratification.

The result? Adults and children alike can sometimes have trouble being patient. We are conditioned to get what we want when we want it, which can affect our ability to cope with situations where patience is essential.

So how does technology affect children's behavior?


How Does Technology Affect Children’s Behavior?

While you, as an adult, can consciously moderate your interactions with technology and practice delayed gratification, growing children are more susceptible to technology’s harmful effects. In a study, "World Unplugged," conducted by the International Center for Media & The Public Agenda, a clear majority of participating children admitted their failure to go without technology for even 24 hours.

Here are some behavioral signs technology could be affecting your children negatively:

  • Lack of patience. If your child becomes restless after a few minutes of waiting in line or waiting for dinner to finish cooking, there might be a problem.

  • Inability to problem-solve. With so much information available to them instantly, many children never learn to strategize and problem-solve effectively.

  • Low resilience. When your child is used to getting what they want, when they want it, they may have trouble dealing with challenging situations (and may choose to abandon them completely).

  • Low emotional intelligence. When a child lacks the innate understanding that some things do, indeed, take time, they may become more prone to emotional outbursts and temper tantrums, and have trouble interacting with others in a respectful manner.

  • Taking things for granted. Always having easy access to everything they desire means certain things may lose value in your child’s eyes.

  • Engaging in risky behaviors. Children, especially teenagers, may make dangerous choices to cope with the increased anxiety coming from any disappointments or challenges they encounter.


Final Thoughts

Living in the modern world does not have to negatively affect your child’s behavior.

Learn more about living with technology in a healthy and balanced way: Check out our Ultimate 21 Day Digital Detox program. It is an excellent way to learn simple tweaks to protect your family from the radiation emitted by technology while establishing healthier boundaries with technology in the process!



Deconstruct to reconstruct.

In 2020, we're deconstructing our home, habits, and things to reconstruct a practical nontoxic and healing lifestyle. We're bringing consciousness to unconscious choices.



This article is for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that it features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. Views expressed in this article by an expert are the views of the expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Nontoxic Living or Ruan Living.

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