I’m certainly not the only one who wonders if children nowadays come with an innate skill for technology. Watching 3-year-olds easily navigate through games and apps in cell phones is amusing for most parents.
But the question that arises in parent’s minds is whether so much technology is good or bad for children. No doubt it will benefit them in the future since we are heading towards an ever more technological world, so it can be good for them to have an early exposure. However, there are also points of risk that we want to discuss further in this post.
For instance, some experts worry about studies that link longer screen time to issues like obesity, increased aggression and difficulty to concentrate. On the flip side, other experts encourage the use of technology because of its capability of engaging kids in fun learning and to develop problem solving.
One of the easiest points for kids to access technology is their parent’s phones. Whether they are going to a medical appointment or just going to visit grandma, kids are always going to ask to use your phone. Many times I’ve seen kids getting angst, maybe in a restaurant, an indoor park, or in some public place, and the phone comes as a lifesaver for the parent.
It’s not surprising that 60 percent of the top-selling apps in iTunes are targeted to young children according to a 2011 study.
The bright side of technology
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of the use of technology is its potential to accelerate learning. If a child is curious, she has access to cascades of information all at her fingertips. If they want to know about a certain animal, they can even watch live streaming of the animal in its habitat with webcams.
And if they want to practice math, reading or writing skills, they can visit one of the many websites available for that purpose that make learning a fun and rewarding experience.
Some downsides of technology for children
Technology comes with its own risks, so as a parent you should be aware of the potential dangers and manage them accordingly. At the end of the day, everything boils down to finding a balance.
- Excessive screen time. Paediatric experts agree that it is detrimental to a child’s wellbeing. Too much time spent in front of a screen may lead to obesity, behavioural problems and irregular sleep. It also leaves less time to play and explore the world around.
- Video game violence. Both watching and virtually participating in violent video games affects the child’s developing mind and psyche. There are two main problems here; first, the constant exposure to this kind of content contributes to desensitising the kids to violence, which means they may become more “immune” to the horror of violence. And second, they can imitate the violence they see.
The answer to the dilemma is to find the balance because either of the extremes has proven not beneficial for children development. If you restrict all interactions with technology or allow only a minimal amount, your child might be missing out on unique opportunities for connecting with friends and family, learning and having fun.
On the other side, if you are too permissive you are allowing them to be highly exposed to the risks of technology like the ones mentioned above.
You know your child better than anyone, so if you see she is curious and wants to learn new things let her spend time surfing the web to fill her hungry mind. But if you see they tend to become obsessive with things like video games, then it’s a good idea to limit the screen time to avoid them becoming isolated or over exposed to graphic violence.